By: Belinda John
As the nation grapples with environmental challenges and the unemployment crisis, the rise of eco-entrepreneurship is playing a crucial role in shaping the sustainable future we all strive towards. Charlotte Nell is a perfect example of a local entrepreneur who started a business in the waste management sector to ensure her community lives in a clean environment. The waste management sector is a powerful avenue for transformation that’s gaining prominence. Within this sector lies the potential for entrepreneurs to not only address environmental concerns, but also unlock opportunities through a circular economy.
Her journey from waste management specialist to entrepreneur is a testament to the power of passion, purpose, and unwavering commitment to making the world a better place. How did she make this career change? “The best way to effect change is to embody it in one’s profession. So that is exactly what I did.” Nell told Vutivi News. Her path took root during her tenure at a Western Cape local municipality, where she delved into waste minimisation efforts. This role honed her understanding of the challenges local authorities grapple with in managing waste, opening her eyes to the opportunities for private sector intervention.
In 2018, her business Aquila Environmental came into being. This Cape Town-based venture would redefine waste management consulting. “I took my expertise and channelled them into a business that does waste minimisation, resource recovery, and responsible disposal.” The driving force behind Aquila Environmental is societal transformation. “By optimising waste management practices, we can directly improve living conditions and reduce environmental pollution,” Nell said. “Our efforts ripple outward, influencing more people to adopt sustainable practices.”
Nells journey as an entrepreneur has not been devoid of challenges. One formidable hurdle was navigating the landscape of funding for community-based projects. She has plans to run waste management community projects, but the lack of funding is a hinderance. Despite this challenge, Nell is determined to explore innovative solutions. She also envisions a foundation side to her business, channelling funds into targeted waste minimisation projects. These projects are envisaged not as isolated clean-ups, but as holistic endeavours that unite diverse stakeholders in collaborative, community-based waste management initiatives.
“We regularly create short-term employment opportunities. Since inception, we have helped approximately 300 people, who have all benefitted from projects I’ve led over the years,” said Nell. As she pushes forward, her mission is urgent: to bridge the gap between waste and responsible consumption. She urges individuals to envision a world where waste generation ceases, prompting them to make globally conscious choices that can alleviate the current waste crisis. For aspiring entrepreneurs, Nell offers a simple yet profound piece of advice: “Seek out your passion and relentlessly pursue it. In a world where motivation wanes without genuine interest, we all need a reminder that success blooms most vibrantly when fuelled by purpose.”