Driving South Africa’s Green Economy
In a bid to drive South Africa’s green economy, a Pretoria-based start-up, led by the visionary Mahlatse Mamaila, is making significant strides by turning waste cooking oil into a valuable biofuel.
While the country may not be on par with many developed nations in the green economy sector, entrepreneurs like Mamaila are championing a cleaner and more sustainable future.
The Essence of the Green Economy
The green economy entails economic activities related to the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services that enhance human well-being in the long run without jeopardizing the environment or future generations. It’s a holistic approach to sustainable economic growth.
From Waste to Biodiesel: The INO Biodiesel Initiative
Mahlatse Mamaila is the founder of INO Biodiesel, a green energy company located in Pretoria. This innovative company specializes in collecting waste cooking oil and transforming it into biodiesel.
Biodiesel, as a renewable alternative to petroleum diesel, finds applications in various sectors, including power generation, mining equipment, vehicle fleets, and aviation.
Mamaila’s vision extends beyond merely producing biodiesel. She has partnered with women and youth in rural communities across Limpopo, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and Mpumalanga to collect waste cooking oil.
This collaborative effort not only prevents the oil from polluting rivers but also provides communities with access to clean water.
An Inspirational Journey
Mamaila’s journey began during the challenging days of the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. Faced with widespread unemployment and job losses, she aspired to contribute to job creation.
While she had no previous experience in biofuel or oil recycling, her determination led her to start INO Biodiesel. Mamaila’s background in accounting prepared her for the business aspects, while her innovative drive fueled her vision.
With the easing of lockdown restrictions, Mamaila officially registered her business in 2021 and sought support from The Innovation Hub, an agency of the Gauteng Provincial Government.
This hub promotes economic development and entrepreneurship, offering various incubation programs in sectors like the green economy.
Mamaila’s journey at The Innovation Hub involved six months of training, including practical guidance on waste cooking oil collection and biodiesel production.
Additionally, she benefited from mentoring by experienced professionals.
The Positive Impact and Future Challenges
INO Biodiesel has already created permanent jobs for five women and employs an additional five women on a part-time basis.
The demand for their biofuel product has surged, with international inquiries, like the one from a Zambian company seeking a substantial supply, showcasing the business’s potential.
However, the company’s capacity remains a challenge as they currently cannot meet such high demand. Mamaila continues to explore ways to enhance her business’s capacity and efficiency.
Support and Accolades
Mamaila’s remarkable venture has garnered support and accolades from various organizations. Notably, the Tony Elumelu Foundation awarded her grant funding worth R85,000 in 2021.
In 2022, her business claimed the brand award from the Nomzamo Mbatha Lighthouse and Hollywood Foundation, securing R100,000. It also received R45,000 after Mamaila’s presentation to the panel members of the Esther’s Preparation Room (EPR) Global.
Furthermore, the business secured R25,000 in funding from the Women’s Empowerment Network of South Africa and was honored with the 10th Gender Mainstream award at the 2022 Mail and Guardian awards, in partnership with the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
To bolster her business acumen, Mamaila continues to benefit from training offered by the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA).
Conclusion: Driving Sustainable Change
Mahlatse Mamaila and INO Biodiesel exemplify the positive impact of entrepreneurial endeavors in driving South Africa’s green economy.
By converting waste cooking oil into biodiesel, they are not only providing a valuable resource but also contributing to environmental conservation and job creation. As the business continues to grow, Mamaila’s vision holds the promise of a cleaner, more sustainable future for South Africa.