iThemba Phakama

Provides tricycles and safety equipment to an association of waste-pickers
2017 SAG-SEED Award Winner Waste Management Greater Cape Flats Region in Cape Town, South Africa

Through no-cost lease agreements, iThemba Phakama provides informal waste pickers with safety gear and robust, locally manufactured tricycles for transporting waste. The enterprise is financed through advertising on the side of the tricycles. The members of iThemba Phakama make a monthly contribution until they have saved enough to fund their own tricycle.

This model allows new members to enter once existing members have their own tricycles. It also enables waste-pickers to become individual micro-entrepreneurs, who salvage recycling waste and sell it to buy-back centres. 

Eco-Inclusive Impacts

iThemba Phakama capacitates urban and small-scale farmers to graduate into commercial business units using Umgibe’s cost-effective and sustainable growing system.
  • Addressing poverty in surrounding townships through formal recognition of informal waste pickers.
  • Improving the health of members by providing safety gear and tricycles, which reduce the physical exertion of gathering waste.
  • Building communal capacity on waste management through creative educational workshops.
  • Encouraging waste collection instead of burning or littering through awareness-raising workshops and offering door-to-door waste collection.
  • Reducing carbon emissions from burning and landfills by collecting waste for upcycling and recycling.
  • Rehabilitating waterways through improved waste management and awareness-raising. 
  • Reducing the number of shopping trolleys stolen from retailers.
  • Increasing income and income security of waste pickers - structured waste picking can increase daily income by 400%.
  • Creating a local supply of sorted waste products - the first step of an integrated value chain.



This enterprise is supported through its partnerships with various stakeholders, ranging from national and international organisations, investors, research institutes, suppliers, governmental bodies, NGOs, other social and environmental enterprises and more.

iThemba Phakama Co-operative leases the tricycles to its members.

iThemba Labantu is the local community centre that initiated iThemba Phakama and is the home base (hub) of the co-operative’s operations.

Western Cape Government’s Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (DEA&DP) provided initial funding and technical assistance for scoping and project implementation.

DEA&DP, Uhambo Shonaquip and Phahama Pedal Power manufacture, maintain and supply the tricycles at reduced retail price to iThemba Phakama.

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