Two great ideas brought together five students of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) to work on an impactful initiative that won the Resolution Social Venture Challenge (SVC) at the Baobab Summit 2021.
Hanifa Fuseini, a final year Geography and Rural Development student; Lydia Ahoah, a final year Management student; Barikisu Nasiru Zawi, a final year Geological Engineering student; Sulley Fuseini, a second-year Human Resource Management student; and Mary Dwomoh, a second-year Sociology student, secured a grant to improve and expand their initiative dubbed RECATYREF.
RECATYREF is an abbreviation for ‘Recycling Car Tyre For Furniture’. Through this initiative, these five KNUST students produce a range of stylish furniture from discarded car tyres with much focus on school desks to enhance teaching and learning in the rural parts of Ghana.
Explaining how the team came up with this initiative, the co-founder, Hanifa Fuseini said: “I and Lydia were actually discussing plastic waste and how it can be recycled, then it dawned on us that there are other forms of plastic waste that are not actually receiving much attention. And one of them is discarded car tyres. We realized it is a critical one because it has dire consequences on the environment.”
“At the time, Barikisu and my other teammates were tackling another problem which is related to lack of desk in schools. As students from less endowed schools, it was something we could all relate to. So we decided to see how we could use car tyres to produce the desk. We tried as a team for the first time, and it happened.”
“It wasn’t difficult at all considering that we are Mastercard scholars and members of Enactus-KNUST. As a community, we believe in making positive change and it is much easier when we collaborate. We know ourselves and the unique qualities each of us possess so we decided to come together and find a solution to the poor management of discarded car tyres,” she added.
The Resolution Social Venture Challenge (SVC) is a multi-step competition designed to inspire undergraduate students to propose impactful, socially-responsible projects (ventures) addressing pressing social issues around the world. The ventures presented by the teams could be ‘for profit’ or ‘not for profit’, but it is especially required to be one that is geared towards making a change in the community.
“We believe our venture is a laudable one and as fresh as we are in the system, not only do we need financial support but also, mentorship and guidance. SVC provides these and more, so we decided to give it a shot and we qualified,” Hanifa said on why they decided to participate in the competition.
The RECATYREF team, as well as other teams that competed, went through various stages beginning with the application through to the finals. In all, each team has to make four presentations – three at the semi-finals and one at the finals.
Detailing the processes they go through to find discarded tyres and turn them into furniture, Hanifa said: “We locate our hotspots which are mostly vulcanizing shops and collect the car tyres. We then disinfect them and transform them into furniture.”
“It’s a long process I must say, but we do employ the use of materials that make them durable. For instance, we use bolt and knot in place of nails. In as much as we focus on school desks, we also manufacture furniture for homes, offices and recreational centres,” she added.
For the distribution of the desks they produce, Hanifa indicated that they are currently focusing on schools in the rural areas of Ghana that lack them. So far, they have provided desks for the New Life M/A JHS at Abofour in the Offinso Municipality in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.
However, at the moment, the team is focusing on expanding the venture to start manufacturing more desks for deprived schools in the country.
“We seek to make the average Ghanaian student’s life more comfortable in our schools, in the sense that they would have proper desks to sit on in schools to enhance their concentration on academic activities just as their friends in the well-established schools across the country. By so doing, we provide a more sustainable way of managing discarded car tyres. As a business venture, however, our goal is to dominate the furniture industry across the world with the car tyre inventory,” Hanifa said about the team’s goal.
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