How Youth Are Making Money From Recycled Products

  • Faimi United Furniture founder Michael Muhundi speaking to the press
    Faimi United Furniture founder Michael Muhundi speaking to the press.
    Daily Nation
  • As the country comes to terms with the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic wrecks, a group of young people in Nakuru County have found a way to thrive and scale their business.

    Speaking to Nation on Wednesday, April 14, Michael Muhundi, the leader of the group, revealed that he founded the shop, Faimi United Furniture, in 2019.

    He also revealed that his business is unique because it recycles pallets into unique furniture, an idea that came after a stint selling onions in an open-air market. 

    Seats created by Faimi United Furniture in Nakuru County
    Seats created by Faimi United Furniture in Nakuru County.

    "We make pallet furniture. We recycle pallets and make an assortment of furniture. We started the business in mid-2019 but I was doing the job from home then we opened the shop in January 2020.

    "We have three assistants," Muhundi adds. "I used to work at the market but the job never paid well and I did not like it. I wanted something I could create with my hands."

    Pallets are wooden crates used to transport goods in a stable fashion while being lifted by a forklift or other lifting machinery. They are often found in imported containers.

    Muhundi explained that he started the business with a handful of pallets he used during his service as a trader.

    After the first run, a friend, who had gone to visit him, was impressed with the furniture that Muhundi had created and linked him to a pallets supplier.

    "After that, the orders were continuous. I started with a bed, a seat and a TV stand. I had made the seat and bed for personal use.

    "I then bought a machine and after some months, I opened this shop," he explained.

    He noted that products made from pallets were cheaper than those from fresh wood and would last longer because they are treated.

    For instance, a TV stand from Faimi Furniture retails at Ksh 8,000 while standard market price in Nakuru is Ksh 12,000.

    He revealed that he gets most of his clients from Facebook referrals and satisfied customers and is now able to comfortably pay his staff every end month.

    Muhundi joins a group of youth who have decided to find unique ways to make a living from recycled products.

    Nzambi Matee of Gjenge Makers holds two of her products
    Nzambi Matee of Gjenge Makers holds two of her products.

    In August 2020, Nzambi Matee, 28, was among seven global winners in the Young Champions of the Earth 2020 organised by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

    Matee, through GJenge Makers, manufactures affordable and sustainable building materials such as paving tiles from recycled plastic waste.

    She was awarded Ksh1 million to support her fledgling business that aims at reducing plastic waste deposited on the continent.

    E-Waste recycling

    Another Kenyan youth, Shabaya Beche, 28, founded a school dedicated to training youth on ways to turn electronic waste into useful products.

    Beche, who first ran a school dubbed Squadra One, was inspired to create the school after learning that e-waste was harmful to the body and contained cadmium which can cause cancer after contaminating soil and water.

    One of the students who went through the school successfully turned a rechargeable LED lamp into a street light.

    “It is in the testing phase where I am refining it before it’s ready to enter the market,” stated Timothy Marube regarding the lamp which turns on its own when somebody passes in the vicinity.

    Later on, he started charging Ksh 1,000 to attendees and in 2018, he partnered with Kenya’s environmental ministry for the first e-waste week.