Kuza has supported a vast network of young micro-enterprises in the waste management sector, from those engaged in collection, to those more established micro-enterprises involved in aggregation, value-addition and recycling. Often these micro-enterprises are youth community based groups who are known to each other, and reside in the same or neighbouring wards.
However they rarely share information and collaborate. Most are generally not aware of business member associations such as the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry who are increasly reaching out to smaller enterprises; nor the Jua Kali Association or the state-sponsored Micro Enteprise Authority who are more accessible and currently represent their type of business: micro and informal. Though family networks and peers are often cited as sources of information and guidance, outside of formal Kuza-supported trainings and coaching, most micro-enterprises rely on the County Inspectorate and enforcement officers to get information on applicable business rates, dumping sites and other regulatory issues. Despite multiple levels of government operating in the same space (e.g. ward administrators, Safer City officers, the inspectorate etc.), there is often no clear entry point to the policy making process, and platform for effective participation on issues concerning them.
Shifiting focus from micro to macro
Micro-enterprises need accessible platforms to support them to be able to participate in the policy-making process, reach scale and enhance efficiency. As part of our sustainability strategy, Kuza made a shift away from improving capacities of individual micro-enterprises and turned instead to enabling actors to shape the policy and institutional landscape that supports their participation and growth. A natural entry point for this, was to gradually increase support to coalitions and networks of micro-enterprises in the sector. Kuza found like-minded partners along the way, including World Vision, who compliment the technical support Kuza offers, with more institutional and advocacy support to the alliances. Many of these networks are ward-based, where the individual enterprises merged with others from neighbouring wards to form a larger network organisation able to represent an entire sub-County. Examples of such networks include the Mombasa West Mazingira Alliance covering Jomvu and Changamwe sub-counties and made up of 19 micro-enterprises engaged in solid waste management and environmental conservation. Another is the Likoni Community Development Initative covering the whole of Mombasa South or Likoni sub-County.
These alliances, representing more micro-enterprises, are better able to call for meetings with County Government officials and have a stronger voice to advocate for clearer regulations that are consistently enforced, policies that recognise their business operations and support a more conducive operating environment. Together with the County Government and other development partners, Kuza has been engaging with micro-enterprise coalitions to help mobilise more micro enterprises, strengthen their capacity to implement waste management initiatives outlined in the Standard Operation Procedures and Mambo Safi policy framework and provide upward linkages to aggregators and SMEs involved in recycling activities in Mombasa and Nairobi.
Creating networks and coalitions also allow members to pool resources. In Mombasa South, 30 young micro-entreprises – members of Likoni Community development Initiative – were linked by the County Government to Modern Soap, a recycling SME across town in Mikindani. They are able to pool sufficient volumes of plastics that they collect from their neighbourhood collection service, sort the recyclables, hire transport and sell at a competitive price. The membership of the alliance contributed to its visibility and identification by the County Government, and subsequent linkage with an SME further along the value chain.
More support is required to motivate this sector in many ways
One of the objects of devolution is to recognise the rights of communities to manage their own affairs and further their development. Though the existence of networks and coalitions is a good step in the direction of inclusive development, the County solid waste management regulatory framework is weak on its provision for community participation mechanisms in matters related to waste.
Citing one example from the Community Forest Associations established under the Kenya Forest Act 2005, according to Ibrahim Hassan, Mombasa County Government should formally institute a Participatory Environement Management mechanism that builds on the existence of the alliances. “There needs to be formal participation mechanisms in this sector, that are enshrined in national policy and respected by both levels of government” says Hassan.
Kuza is continuing to work with the County and other stakeholders to identify and develop networks and alliances to support community engagement, multi-stakeholder ownership and full implementation of Mombasa’s Solid Waste Management framework.
By James Katana and Cindy Lithimbi-Ondego