If you are in the waste management business, it should come from the heart and love for the environmentBukenya Ibrahim Lukanika
Sir Vincent Churchill called Uganda “The Pearl Of Africa” and we couldn’t agree more. When we think of Uganda, we think of its rich cultural and natural heritage. Rwenzori mountains, Mount Elgon and Lake Victoria are just a few of many natural marvels in Uganda.
And what’s the biggest enemy of nature?
You guessed it!
It’s waste and pollution.
Uganda is growing at 6.8% per annum growth rate. With growth comes Industry and with Industries comes waste. Uganda is no different and is now seeing rapid increase in Industrial waste. Fortunately to better manage this waste Armstrong Global Solutions is working round the clock. When I found out how a company driven by their love for nature is fighting all odds, I had to dig deeper.
Armstrong Global Solutions was founded in 2020 by Bukenya Ibrahim Lukanika. Driven by his love for nature and skills in the waste management industry, Bukenya set out on this journey. But this was not the only driving factor, he also wanted to show people how they can actually make money from waste. As he himself puts it – “Most people here think of waste as something that is useless, I wanted to change that. I wanted to show how waste can actually be a profitable business. Not only can we conserve our environment, but we can also build our economy doing so “.
But like any journey, the first steps are most difficult. Starting a waste management business is not easy. It requires big investment, public support, high operating costs and a long procedure of government paperwork. Armstrong Global Solution was no exception and they faced all these issues.
“Getting initial investment was hard. It was difficult to convince people and raise capital to start the business. But we were focused, determined and believed that things would eventually work out. We had a lot of support from friends and families and that kept our morals high” – Bukenya mentions.
Eventually it was worth the effort. In a short period of time, the company has seen immense growth. Today the company operates in three cities – Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso, and is responsible for disposal of 50 tonnes of waste each month. They manage waste from diverse sectors and provide various services –
- Hazardous waste collected from industries.
- Domestic waste collection
- Medical & pharmaceutical waste collected from health facilities
- Expired products
- Sewage water from households
- Obsolete documents from organizations
- Sanitary pads from female washrooms.
- Recycling and energy generation
If that’s not enough there’s more. In their endeavor utilize waste and not just dispose of it, they are also making charcoal from waste. When I asked Bukenya to elaborate on it, his enthusiasm was visible. “We did a small trial run this year and it was a big success. Not only were we able to manufacture charcoal from waste, we were also profitable in doing so. I’m particularly excited about this as it can save a lot of trees that are cut to obtain charcoal.”
In recent times we all have faced challenges due to covid pandemic. Bukenya is no different. Nature of covid virus required a new approach to managing hospital waste. “Biggest challenge we faced was proper disinfection. Everything has to be carefully managed and disinfected as slightest contact to the virus could prove critical. We also had to get special PPE kits and masks for our staff to ensure safety. This rapidly increased our operating cost. However thanks to our skilled staff and workforce we were able to handle things. All disposals were successful and no staff member contracted the virus,” Bukenya recalled.
Armstrong Global Solutions has also been an active participant in social awareness campaigns. They have supported and opened many clubs at school and college level. My Tree Initiative Program at Pic Hill Primary School and Green Club at Kawempe Muslim Secondary School are their initiatives to educate youth about waste management. Bukenya believes that for a better tomorrow we must educate children today.
When asked what advice Bukenya has for young entrepreneurs looking to start business in this field, he says – “First and foremost It has to come from the heart. You need to have love for nature and the environment. After that you’ll need good knowledge about the industry and recent trends. If you keep faith and persevere, waste management is a steady venture with good revenue that more people should get into.”
In days to come Bukenya seems highly optimistic. He mentions how with a lot of oil industries coming up in Uganda, the market for waste management will see a sharp rise. Also they are planning to expand their company in more cities and procure more equipment.
Over my interaction I realised how a business can go beyond just a tool to make money. It can empower a change for the better. In a world where capitalism is questioned for its greed, this conversation was a heartwarming experience. I saw how we can not just make money to fuel the economy, we can also save our planet doing so. In their road ahead I wish Armstrong Global Solution all luck in the world on their journey ahead.