Meet Harrison Musonda – an entrepreneur turning waste to success

The story of Harrison Musonda is a relative rags-to-riches story with a difference: it is the rags and other household waste that are now bringing Musonda prosperity, and helping the community at the same time.
Musonda earns a living by selling litter and recyclable waste as part of the highly successful Manja Pamodzi project, a community-based initiative that has seen parts of Lusaka where the project has been launched cleared of refuse, and recycled material for cash.
Dealing in other people’s household waste has always earned the 29-year-old Musonda enough to survive, but since becoming an aggregator for the Zambian Breweries-supported Manja Pamodzi initiative, he has enjoyed a noticeable improvement in his standard of living.
His role involves buying litter in bulk from collectors so that he can then process the discarded material into bundles to be sold on to Manja Pamodzi. Thereafter; companies specialising in processing of recyclable materials buy the solid waste and turn into useable material such as tissues and egg trays.
It is difficult to believe that Musonda at one time had to survive on picking waste from the dump site; now these days are long gone.
“Before engaging with the Manja Pamodzi project, I met up with some business people who would buy plastic litter in bulk. They would give us K50 a time. Later, I realised that there is value in this waste-picking business. I started selling a kilo for 30 ngwee. I would make between K300 and K500 weekly and I started saving,” he says.
As fate may have it, in March 2014 he met with some consultants who were conducting feasibility studies on recyclable material. This was a turning point in his life as it meant he could finally move on from his Chunga dumping ground litter-picking business. In 2015, the team came back for the Manja Pamodzi project with Zambian Breweries. That was the moment when it dawned on him that becoming an aggregator was a way out of the poverty trap which he was in danger of falling into.
“I realised that I could engage others and now have about 60 collectors. I have even engaged professionals and university graduates.”
The renowned Manja Pamodzi initiative is supported by Zambian Breweries and its sister companies National Breweries and Heinrich’s Syndicate. The aim of the environmental clean-up and recycling project is to minimise litter that can block drainage system and give rise to disease such as cholera and typhoid, especially during the rainy season.
Apart from giving people a sense of worth, a spirit of hope, and a future to look forward to, the project is generating enterprise development opportunities and thus alleviating poverty. Through the initiative the communities are also being given the chance to create their own businesses.
The collectors are identified through environmental education campaigns with the emphasis on recycling. The collectors gather polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, cardboard and other recyclable materials from target areas in their communities.
Musonda says he is happy to be part of the Manja Pamodzi initiative because as far as he is concerned, it is not just about the money he raises but the contribution he and his colleagues are making towards keeping the country clean. “I have engaged about 60 people under the Manja Pamodzi project. I have been to Chawama, Ngombe and other places in Lusaka collecting recyclable litter,” he recalls.
“I have grown up in a hard situation. I was a bin scavenger. I was getting food to survive by God’s Grace. Then I started visiting the Chunga dumping site, but I was also determined to work hard and make it in life. When I look at litter, I see business: I see money.”
He does not blame his parents for his harsh and humble beginnings: “It wasn’t my parents’ fault that I was a scavenger. Being a scavenger was a tough situation but I was doing it for survival. I am happy that through my business I have built them a house. God blessed me with a car and now I can take my children to a good school,” the father-of-two says.
Musonda hopes he can inspire schoolchildren to keep their environment clean: “I also provide leadership in schools and started working with Lusaka City Council (LCC). He has some words of advice for the youth of today, and that is to value your life, be dedicated to what you are doing, set goals and achieve them.

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22 COMMENTS

  1. I think over 59 percent of success stories in Zambia are rags to riches. Myself I walked to school 7 km every day with no food to eat at school most days but now I have made it as one of the most successful strategist in Zambia. I don’t think I deserve an article for it so why should this man get one for doing what society expect from him

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    • There is no mention of his riches in the article. How much is he worth? Does building a house for parents and buying a car warrant an article in this rag called Lusaka Times??

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    • @NEZ. I actually used to follow you keenly but this comment is not typical of you. What did you actually strategise on which was succesful. We all know UPND did not win the election ( whether stolen or not). So please share with us you successful “strategy” achievements. Otherwise you are just boasting, no wonder UPND lost. ( Stolen election or otherwise)

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    • @Nez and @Suntwe wa Suntwe, Keep hating, Nigga is doing some right for himself, give him credit. It does not have to be about you. Maybe the article was written not to talk about Musonda’s rich’s but to encourage other young lads that hard work pays off and not to depend on the inept government to do anything for anybody. Have you thought of that? Selfcentered moron.

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  2. NEZ jealous will kill you one day whats wrong with you. The article is such a brilliant piece which can help some one who has lost hope. If you want to share your rags to riches story go ahead if you think you can help some one and by the way what do you even strategise? All we have seen is your demi god failing five times. Unless you hear that some one sold his soul to gain wealth thats when you will start singing all your praises. Please get down from that high horse you are riding. Sha

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    • If you need to read an article to gain hope to survive then it means you have never tasted hunger or poverty. Because a person genuinely suffering would not give up easily but have energy to read an article on Lusaka times. Also if you are truly suffering how would you gage luxury to have Internet to access Lusaka times to read this so called miracle article kikiki you are useless and naive. I Speak the truth without emotions. The world over knows hh won these elections stolen by that rat lungu. So to call me a failed strategist when am earning amounts only you can dream of is pathetic to say the least. Vote nez as best blogger

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    • low life , poorly dressed educated poligamist from dundumwezi busy blogging just to be seen.kikikikiki

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  3. The point of the article is to encourage others that may be doing nothing or may think certain ideas are not worth pursuing that something may come out of that ‘nothing’. Pursue the idea and see where it leads you. Personally, we should have more of such stories to encourage the poor. What about those that collect empty bottles, how are they are doing?

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  4. This story should encourage other Zambians who have been led to believe the only way to become rich is to be connected to PF GRZ.

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  5. I believe many zambians now own a car and are buildings houses everywhere.. should this be a yardstick for what counts as successful entrpreneur? please give us the stats in terms of turn over and job creation then we will judge if he is a success story worthy of headline article. Meanwhile vote nez as best blogger

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    • NEZ official UPND Media it is none of our business that you have failed to deduce the positive side of the story above. I really doubt your claim to be an educated fellow or is that the reason you are calling yourself “new educated Zambia” such that your recently acquired certificate in cowdung theory has excited you.

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  6. Two jealousy idioots up here. This story is not about rags to riches BUT thinking outside the box. We need to learn to appreciate other Zambian’s efforts.

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  7. @NEZ Just because it is “Musonda” you can not see sense in what he is saying. Even me I walked to school a distance of 12 km and did not have food regularly but not a scavenger. Look were I am. The story is encouraging to say the least. “Umuntu uwamano kuti ayalula ifyafye fyaba fyuma mune”

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    • Ok so why can’t you accept that we can all have different views on issues. Look.personally this article does not motivate me. I don’t need to read an article which attributes building a house and buying a car as being successful, to motivate me. Personally I have achieved a lot more and know millions of Zambians who came from nothing and now are well respected internationally. All am saying is that to me this is not success.remember that success is relative. Small things impress small minds

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  8. Anything positive will be turned into NEGATIVE! It is the official position of a senseless party known as Hazaluza Hagain and his cadres! Like @ NEZ #1.

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