Would-be entrepreneur Adesh Naidoo is excited about taking the plunge into the business world after winning the 2012 Small Enterprise Development Agency (Seda) Small Business Stars business plan competition.
Naidoo’s innovation is an “eco-bin” specifically for cigarette butts that can be fixed on to light polls in city streets. But, it does not end there. The bins also have space for advertising, creating an additional revenue stream, which enhances his business plan.
“Doors are opening for me now after winning the award. It is going to kick-start my business, Clean Street.
“I’m really excited, because the exposure from the win is set to turn my invention of a green-friendly litter bin into a commercial product and business venture,” he said in an interview with Network.
Naidoo was the overall winner of the Seda competition, beating 180 finalists from more than 5 500 entries from across South Africa.
He walked off with R600 000 worth of business support from Seda, as well as a R50 000 cash prize, a laptop and software.
“It was quite amazing to have won this competition… Beyond the prize money and business support from Seda to turn my business plan and invention into a commercially feasible business, it has given me confidence. If they believe in my business idea then it can be done.
“The exposure for the win has seen expressions of interest in my product from the City of Tshwane and Msunduzi Municipality. I even got interest from Mozambique.
“This week I’ll be making a presentation to Msunduzi in Pietermaritzburg. I am crossing fingers because once I’ve secured a contract more financiers will fund the start-up of my business,” said Naidoo.
“I have business support from Seda following my win of the Small Business Stars competition. But, more doors are opening up now.
“This week I will also be meeting representatives from the Department of Trade and Industry who are considering allocating me grant funding of about R800 000 for the capex for my business.
“Since my Clean Street eco-bin will be manufactured locally, I stand a chance of qualifying for the funding as part of one of the department’s local manufacturing promotion grants.
“Things are starting to happen now for me after trying to get this business idea off the ground for almost two years. I have also been contacted by the chief executive of Proudly SA, who wants to discuss how I can market my product.”
Naidoo said once funding was secured, he would purchase an injection moulding machine to manufacture the bins.
The bins would be made from recycled plastic and are designed to hold cigarette butts without being damaged.
“If all goes according to plan, it will go into production in two months’ time. I’ve already sourced an injection moulding machine. Once I have my first contract secured, funding will be approved and I can buy the machine.
“I am looking at other opportunities such as recycling cigarette butts and other litter-curbing innovations,” he said.
Naidoo said he had been in talks with the eThekwini Municipality for 18 months about his eco-bin idea before he entered the competition.
“I have had some intense discussions with eThekwini, but nothing has come of it. Despite being Durban-based, ironically I am getting more interest from outside my home town. I am hoping things change. I know my product would work better in places like Europe, but cigarette butts are a big litter problem and has an impact on the environment,” he said.
The competition win has seen 32-year-old Naidoo become more determined than ever before to get his business up and running.
A former professional in cost management accounting and IT, he has used his experience to develop an award-winning business plan.
“Now comes the tough part of getting the business operational. But, it is good to have more and more people believing in my idea.
“The business will involve not just manufacturing eco-bins, but also establishing itself in the outdoor advertising market. I have already got a major advertising company keen to come on board.
“My company will be able to generate additional revenues for cities that use these eco-bins. We will operate them, including cleaning them out and handling the advertising side. This means the business would create jobs both in manufacturing and distribution.”
An idea that Naidoo came up with while working in London, stands on the cusp of becoming a lucrative business opportunity.