Business woman makes pencils out of recycled newspapers
Wada Kealotswe’s idea of venturing into the business of making pencils from recycled newspapers was born when she participated in the 2019 World Bank Youth Summit.
The Summit, which was held under the theme ‘Smart and Resilient cities’, provided a platform for youth around the world to contribute to the global discussion and to actively learn how to develop a concept into a smart city solution.
The 35-year-old Tutume born Kealotswe pitched the recycled pencil project, which ended up at the semi-finals in a competition that attracted 900 participants across the world.
“I wanted a project that would focus more on environmental friendliness blending it with education hence the newspaper pencils we produce. Furthermore, I am on that quest to help the country diversify the economy and have a robust manufacturing industry that would reduce the import bill. This business is the first of its kind in Southern Africa. Other businesses are of wooden pencils,’’ explained Kealotswe.
Eco Zera started operating on the 1 June, immediately after the first lockdown was lifted. So far it has produced over 10, 000 units of HB graphite pencils.
Kealotswe financed the project with P120, 000 that was used to import some raw materials and machinery from overseas. The company has currently created employment for seven people, six in Gaborone and one based in Kasane.
“The business is doing quite well. For the past three months, we have seen so many people in Botswana and South Africa intrigued by the eco pencil production and the response has been so good. We have had orders sent around the country. This is the 1st of its kind in Botswana and it has been a journey as my team and I had to learn on our own how to go about in the operation of the business since we started right in the middle of a pandemic. It has been a challenge to move around doing business and marketing our product due to Covid-19 protocols,” admitted Kealotswe.
The entrepreneur, who is a Development Economist, wants to secure a market for the products and expand the business to be able to meet demand, which will also create more employment opportunities.
Part of her expansion plans includes the introduction of other pencil grades like 2B and 6B which are used for drawing, as well as 12 coloured pencils. Currently, Kealotswe is in talks with a South African entrepreneur who wants to distribute her pencils across the border.
Eco Zera Pencils retail at P2 each and P25 for a pack of 12.