Meet the Circular Economy Leaders: M-taka

Circular economy

Meet the Circular Economy Leaders: M-taka

We, at Circular Economy Catalyst, are thrilled to present “Circular Economy Leaders” - a brand-new articles series to feature some of the most exciting circular enterprises and let them share about their unique vision, approach and stories.

Today we are presenting a case of M-taka, a tech-integrated waste management social enterprise that is tackling the issue of plastic waste in Kenya. They are employing methods of education, collection, and increased recycling practices, while offering an innovative approach, which combines social incentives, community engagement, and data analytics to promote behaviour change and sustainable waste management practices. We got an exciting opportunity to gain insights into their work from Benson Abila, Founder and CEO of M-taka.

Embracing the Circular Business Model

M-Taka realises the urgency of the issues posed by the negative impacts of the linear economy, as well as the need to address environmental challenges and create sustainable solutions. 

“By embracing a circular business model, our aim is to contribute to a more sustainable and circular economy, where products and materials are reused, recycled, and repurposed, minimizing waste and environmental impact. This approach aligns with our commitment to environmental conservation, community well-being, and fostering a circular economy that benefits both present and future generations”, says Benson Abila.

The adoption of circular approach by M-Taka has also been driven by commitment to creating green jobs and fostering economic opportunities within their local community. The team is strongly dedicated to positively impacting the livelihoods of individuals through the generation of green dignified jobs and ultimately building a workforce that actively participates in sustainable practices, from waste management to resource recovery.

Overcoming Challenges

Benson Abila names a number of key challenges faced by the enterprise. One of such potential hurdles was in the need to change and adapt ingrained linear consumption patterns within the community.  M-Taka had to work hard on convincing the community and establishing connections with individuals and businesses through education, community engagement, and tangible incentives through the M-taka app to induce behaviour change.

M-Taka also faced challenges to create a robust infrastructure for waste collection, sorting, and processing, as well as to navigate regulatory frameworks. Ultimately the enterprise is able to overcome these challenges through adherence to the environmental standards, collaborating with local government, and establishing strong partnerships.

“Overcoming these challenges demanded a multi-faceted approach, combining technological innovation, community engagement, and strategic partnerships. The M-taka app, with its gamified incentives, played a pivotal role in shifting behaviours, while the Material Recovery Facility addressed the logistical challenges of waste processing. Establishing a circular business model required perseverance, adaptability, and a commitment to sustainable practices that prioritize both environmental and community well-being”, states Benson Abila.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Need Support 

Benson Abila outlines key factors improvements and strategic steps are essential to supporting SMEs:

  • Access to finance could be achieved through collaboration of key stakeholders, including financial institutions and government bodies; 

  • Streamlining regulatory processes can possibly be done by providing tax incentives, simplifying compliance procedures, and recognizing circular practices in procurement processes;

  • Facilitating collaboration among circular SMEs through creating platforms, networks, and matchmaking events can foster knowledge exchange, resource-sharing, and collaborative projects;

  • Investing in research and development can in collaborative effort of research institutions with government bodies and private sector, which should focus on developing innovative technologies, materials, and processes that align with circular principles

CEO of M-Taka also believes that supporting green SMEs yields far-reaching positive impacts, such as environmental sustainability, positive socio-economic impact through creation of green jobs, enhances community well-being, and stimulates local economies, as well as innovation and technological advancement. 

Benson Abila specifically highlighted collaboration with adelphi's Circular Economy Catalyst:

“Our collaboration with adelphi's Circular Economy Catalyst has been invaluable in refining our circular business model. The workshops, particularly those focusing on circular economy principles, operations, and value chain analysis, have provided actionable insights. I appreciate the emphasis on holistic approaches, ensuring circularity across the entire value chain.”

Looking into The Future

Benson Abila also outlines ambitious goals for the next years, as he is looking to expand the impact of M-Taka across regions, with a network of empowered agents, thriving communities, and strengthened partnerships.

“We aim to be a catalyst for environmental change, inspiring others to adopt circular business models. Our commitment to creating green dignified jobs, empowering women in waste management, and fostering community engagement will remain at the core of our journey”, he says.