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Youth turns liquor bottles into a fortune

With the high unemployment levels in Kenya today, the few lucky persons who secure employment cling to the job with all their might especially if it is white collar that is adored by many who graduate from colleges.
The phobia of losing their highly competitive employments clogs their minds to the extent of blurring them from exploiting their entrepreneurial talents.
As a Primary School Teacher, Mike Mwiti found himself in a dilemma of making a choice between remaining stuck in the low paying job as a teacher and jumping into the uncharted territory of business. After toying with the two for some time, the 35 year old father of one child decided to pursue his passion.
As early as his primary school days, Mwiti felt obliged to seek a solution to liquor, wine and beer bottles that were poorly dispossed and posed a threat to the environment.
He would blush any time he came across a heap of discarded bottles stirring his mind to struggle for a permanent solution to the menace.
By a click of the entrepreneurship in him, he visualized a solution that would help him kill two birds with one stone.
“After teaching for only three months earning peanuts at Chogoria Academy, I felt it was the high time I put my imaginations into practice. I ignored the teaching skills that I had acquired at Egoji Teachers Training College and moved from one employer to another to raise some capital with which I started a pub business. Here the menace of liquor, beer and wine bottles hit me again as a thunderbolt,” said the entrepreneur.
According to Mwiti, this was the advent of second generation alcohol when bottles were not reusable and were discarded all over town.
After operating the pub for five years, Mwiti started upcycling of liquor bottles into glasses that soon became a hot cake in Chuka town and its environs.
His dream of killing two birds with one stone had finally come true. He was making money while at the same time appealing to mother-nature to spare humanity.
Explaining how he turns the bottles into a set of drinking glasses the entrepreneur says, “I collect various bottles of wine, beer and spirits, clean them with soap and water to remove the paper labels and logos and using a simple machine, score them at the convenient height of a standard glass. This is after wearing gloves and eye protectors for safety purposes,” he says with enthusiasm.
After that, he determines bath to separate the sections which he scored. According to him the sudden change in temperature will cause the bottles to separate perfectly wherever they are scored. He then separates the bottles using the protectives gloves and submerges them vertically open side down into the hot water then files the rough edges using the sandpaper to smoothen them. After about five minutes, he has nice beautiful glasses for drinking water and alcoholic substances.
Speaking to KNA at Mesako building in Chuka town where he is positioned while doing his craft, Mwiti said that his work is cheap and fast because he uses items that are easily found in most households.
He said that he mainly collects the bottles from bars, clubs and dumpsites. Others come from friends, households and restaurants. He discloses that collecting of these bottles is not a difficult task because he has hired some few people to do the job over the weekends.
“The first glasses that I made were a success to me because most bar tenders and clubs were surprised about my good work. I sold all the 50 glasses that I made that day,” says the soft spoken entrepreneur.
Mwiti together with his team make an average of 50-70 glasses per day and a glass goes for about Sh100 and a set of three at Sh200. However, the price of each glass depends on the quality and type of the bottle used.
But Mwiti was not to settle at this yet. In the process of making the glasses, he realized that the upper side of the bottle with the bottleneck could be turned into candle stands. He also makes flower vessels and bulb holders from these bottles.
This work of art has enabled him to create job opportunities to many youth though building a team has not been easy since it is hard to find people who are as keen as he is even after training them.
So far, he has hired five youth to work with him. The project is a breakthrough since it is cheap, fast, and with a ready market among many who find value out of the artwork.
It has been two years since he started this business and he says it pays handsomely enabling him to sustain himself and his family adding that he has no regrets after diverting his career to something he says is more colourful and creative.
He says that this job is a selling business since it is a rare skill within the community adding that he supplies most of his products to Garage Roads within Chuka town and big restaurants which were also mesmerized by his products.
However, as fate would have it, Mwiti faces some challenges such as slow and tedious personnel, tiresome cutting of bottles due to lack of a good bottle cutter, transport cost of these bottles from different bars and dumping sites, fragility of the bottles which could break easily and lots of injuries from the broken glasses.
He pleads with the County Government to help him fund his business especially by enabling him acquire a good cutting machine for the bottles.
He said that if he manages to acquire such a machine, then the sky would be the limit to his artwork and creation of employment opportunities for the idle youth.
It would also be a solution to illicit alcohol consumption besides contributing to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda.
His advice to the youth out there is that there is always work to be done and they should not sit back there waiting for white collar jobs but rather earn their living by creating their own jobs and employing others who may not be equally talented.
By Vallary Achieng/David Mutwiri

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