Using entrepreneurship to fight gender stereotypes in waste sector – By Nonhlanhla Ntuli and Yolanda Wessells

By Nonhlanhla Ntuli and Yolanda Wessells

Entrepreneurship is playing a vital role in tackling gender bias in male dominated sectors.

A report by the UN Development Programme revealed that nearly half of the world’s population say that men make better political leaders while more than 40 percent believe men make better business executives than women. To address gender bias in the waste management sector, a wife and husband team started a business.

Vanessa Wippenaar and her husband Stanely started their Cape Town based recycling business in 2020. Today they are the proud business owners of Beracah Contractors; their business gives Vanessa the freedom to work in a male dominated sector. She is proud to be counted as one of the few women playing a vital role in reducing pollution.

“I’m proud to be an entrepreneur of a waste and recycling business because, for the longest time, it’s been a male-dominated sector. Our business is bringing a positive change by creating jobs and reducing pollution,” said Vanessa proudly.

The Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA) highlighted challenges faced by women in the waste management sector, it noted that transport was notably a barrier of entry for women trying to break into the waste sector industry.

Recycling business is reducing pollution and creating jobs.

Beracah Contractors services up to 30 clients a day and the business has managed to create three permanent jobs. This is an impactful business that is making a positive impact on the environment while addressing unemployment.

This waste management business is important because it helps companies, individuals, and communities to manage their waste and to keep the environment clean. The business also helps the man on the street and businesses to generate income from waste. “We sort and responsibly dispose waste through recycling and repurposing of waste,” said Vanessa.

Providing excellent customer service is important to Vanessa and this is her competitive edge. “I regularly check in on my clients and I tailor my services to address their needs to keep them happy,” she said. The innovative business is also switching things up and will now offer a service where waste is sorted on the premises of the client, giving them a rebate on this.

This environmentally conscious business owner loves seeing her client’s happy face when they see money generated from waste. She added that it’s rewarding for her to help unemployed people generate an income from waste. “We help unskilled workers put bread on the table and a roof over their head,” she said.

In the face of gender inequality, entrepreneurship is giving women the power and freedom to run successful businesses in male dominated sectors.