Grace Wangeci, the founder of Mama Safi Garbage Collectors, is a successful businesswoman who is dedicated to keeping the environment clean. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering, but after facing joblessness for two years, she decided to pursue a different path – environmental care and protection.
In 2012, she began her garbage cleaning service in her neighborhood of Kasarani. Initially, she started with a wheelbarrow and then progressed to a handcart, which she rented for Sh. 100 per day. Over time, her business grew, and she was invited to several plots and homes to collect garbage with her team of three young men, at least four times a week.
Ms. Wangeci’s business has enabled her to create employment for three people whom she pays Sh. 800 per day. A typical day for her and her team starts at 6 am, collecting garbage thrown out in the streets before proceeding to plots and homes. They categorize the waste into recyclable and non-recyclable, with the recyclable waste being weighed, and Ms. Wangeci being paid according to scales.
Despite the success of her business, Ms. Wangeci faces stigma from society due to her line of work. She recounts her lowest moment in the job, which was when her young daughter found out that she was a garbage collector. Her daughter’s classmate saw her collecting garbage at their place and rushed to tell her daughter that her mother was a garbage collector. Her daughter cried the whole day, wishing that her mother had a job where she could carry a handbag like other mothers. Ms. Wangeci eventually explained the situation to her daughter, and she came to understand.