Yesterday I met a lady who takes the bark from a certain type of tree, pulps it and makes paper. This paper is then sold as a specialty gift paper to tourists and others. It’s an example of Malagasy entrepreneurship, where the whole family is part of, and all supported by, this business. The manufacturing takes place in their backyard, the retail sales from their front porch.
In a rather laborious process, they first pulp the bark, then lay it out on a big sheet and submerge it in water. It’s then taken out after it has settled evenly and is decorated while still wet with flowers. Once dried, they can create everything from cards to boxes. The cards and more elaborate items sell for around $1 each, which nets a healthy profit from the original cost of the bark, which is a couple dollars per kilo.
Madmoet Abrahams has been living and working on the street for more then 20 years now. He found a great way to make a living. Everyday you’ll find him in the streets of Cape Town, South Africa collecting White paper. 1 KG of White paper will pay him 23 South African Rand (approximately $2.35) at the paper scrap yard.
Per day he makes more or less 50 Rand. He is a hard worker. I met him in the pouring rain, which didn’t stop him from spitting through the bins in search for more paper. He saved money and bought a bicycle for 300 Rand last year. The bicycle, in combination with his creative re-use of a wheeled carriage for babies connected to it, allows Madmoet to make twice as much money per day! His big dream is to have a paid job and a house.
This friendly, clever and hard working man can be reached under the Sunlam bridge in Cape Town or somewhere on the street…
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