Staff Profile: 5 Questions with Faith Nthenya, Area Manager, Githogoro Recycling
The Staff Profile series will introduce some of Takataka Solutions’ employees, and give you a behind the scenes peek into what it’s like to keep Nairobi safi! First up, Faith Nthenya, the area manager for Githogoro Recycling Point.
Faith Nthenya poses in front of the day’s delivered waste that her team is about to sort
“Ni takataka lakini tunasuluhisha,” Faith Nthenya, area manager of the Githogoro recycling facility, tells me as she walks me round the busy facility, “waste is a problem but we’re solving it”. Located close to Ruaka, the facility manages the waste coming from surrounding areas including Runda and the Village Market. As area manager Faith ensures that at Githogoro is running smoothly and provides a link between the ground and the office. I met up with her to find out more about her work.
TTS: Tell me about your background, and your work at Githogoro
Faith: I started working with Taka Taka Solutions 2 years back as a part-time sorter at the company’s Kawangware facility after having worked in Naivasha on a flower farm for 11 years. I then began to work fulltime and was promoted to start up the Githogoro recycling facility to cater to clients on this side of Nairobi. It was just me, a driver and a few clients then, but we have grown to serve 2,000 clients now.
As area manager my job is basically anything that needs to be done at the recycling point. That might mean training new employees on how to properly sort the waste, weigh it, and how to use our equipment such as bin liners; addressing issues that arise amongst our employees; ensuring that all the waste trucks are running; that bin liners have been delivered and waste has been picked; addressing new clients’ concerns, organising for the sale of recyclable waste and many other things. In short, I oversee all aspects of our operations here.
Waste once delivered is sorted into over 40 different fractions and placed in chambers like these
TTS: What do you enjoy most about your work with Taka Taka Solutions?
Faith: The best part about this job for me is its potential for advancing the country. I like that I am playing a part in people knowing about waste management and learning to recycle as this will improve Kenya. This way we can keep our environment green and avoid unnecessary dumping which causes us so much trouble when it rains heavily for example.
I also enjoy working with so many different people, from the people who sort the waste to the clients and the buyers of our recyclables. These interactions have broadened my worldview and knowledge. I now know a lot more about waste and the many recycling possibilities of different items.
“Ni takataka lakini tunasuluhisha” – “it’s a problem but we’re solving it”
TTS: What are some challenges you face and how do you deal with them?
Faith: Managing so many staff members is a challenge. For one, everyone who works here is from a different background. One has to take time to understand those and anticipate what personal or group difficulties may arise from them. For example, at the beginning we had problems with staff retention. Once in fact, all my employees up and left all at once. At the time we were only targeting youth as new hires. In my opinion younger people didn’t have as great a sense of responsibility towards their work, and perhaps didn’t like it because of having to deal with waste and so on. They often left quickly for other prospects. Upon analysis, I recommended that we begin to mix our hires age-wise. This way the younger people learn from those who are older. Older people are also more mature and work in a more responsible manner so the younger people have role models in them. We no longer have worker retention issues.
Another challenge is that sometimes buyers’ schedules don’t always match up with one’s own. For example if a buyer wants to come pick up recyclables at 6.30 pm, I have to wait for them which might mean that I have to sacrifice other important duties like getting home on time. We have started implementing shifts to address this challenge.
Faith clarifies what plastics constitute a particular fraction to some of the sorters at Githogoro
TTS: What are some things you are proud of having achieved so far?
Faith: I am proud of how far I have come in my work. Only last year I was being trained on how to sort waste into the different fractions and now I am the one responsible for training others. I always tell my workers, ‘I used to be where you are’, to encourage them to work diligently.
Professionally, I am proud of delivering good services to our clients. In the beginning we were the ones looking for clients but now clients look for us. We serve about 2000 clients and we wouldn’t have them if we weren’t doing a good job.
TTS: What are your goals for the future?
Faith: My personal goal is to increase my savings in the TTS savings scheme in order to buy some land of my own.
In terms of work, I would like to see the facility here expand so that we can comfortably serve more clients. I would also like to improve the range of worker benefits that the company provides and offer more in terms of insurance, family friendliness, bonuses, and so on in order to motivate our staff. After all, if the workers weren’t there, I would not be there either.