Making money from waste wood
Business ideas can be found from almost everywhere, and Israel Montlenyane Loeto found his from pieces of waste wood.
What started off as a hobby for the 39-year old bricklayer developed into a business venture after he realized that his passion for making gadgets out of pieces of wood was putting food on his table.
Loeto’s passion for handy work developed when he was a young boy growing up in Gaborone’s low income area of Old Naledi.
Everyone in the family turned to him when they needed anything fixed.
When he completed his secondary school education he enrolled for a bricklaying course at Botswana Council of Churches and eventually finished at Madirelo Training centre.
“I then worked for a number of companies before I decided to do my own projects.
I managed to save some money even though the market was difficult to penetrate.
I later joined a friend who was doing carpentry but I later quit and started my own business after I realized that I was capable of doing the job on my own,” he says.
Without any prospects of funding for his business, Loeto says he decided to use his savings to kick-start the business and in 2010 he set-up shop in his backyard.
“It wasn’t that hard actually. What I needed was some space and the material.
So I decided to utilize the space behind the yard near the railway line and my younger brother helped by connecting the electricity.
I use the pieces of wood that people throw away but I get most of it from logistics companies such as the nearby PPC cement.
I buy it at relatively low prices and make valuable gadgets out of it. Sometimes they sell me pallets which I recycle and resell to them,” he says.
Loeto says he started off by making dog kennels which he sold like hot cakes to dog breeders and individuals who placed orders for dogs of different sizes.
His major breakthrough came when a pre-school in Mmopane requested him to construct wooden chalets and he managed to raise a substantial amount from the project and started to receive more orders.
“A lot of people appreciated my work and I added the construction of chalets and tuck-shops to my line of work,” he says with pride.
In addition to his main line of business, Loeto also makes and refurbishes furnisher.
“I do anything that has to do with wood and my number 76351781 is always available 24/7 for my services,” he says.
The hope now, Loeto says, is that he will be able to find a commercial plot where he will set up his workshop and employ more people and improve the production level.
He currently employs two people who understudy him.
“They also get empowered with the knowledge for handy work and some day they will start their own projects,” he says in a parting shot.