Project Everest

Work Update

The ERS Service now also collects your ideas to reuse and recycle them…

Georgia Holt
Georgia Holt | Feb 1, 2018 | in Knowledge Base

Sweeping the nation with recycling collection -  the post that follows is a succinct report on January 2018 ERS Beta team’s achievements, however if you want to look into what improvements and work is yet necessary, and contribute your ideas please skip to the final two paragraphs <3

The January Everest Recycling Solutions Beta team has just completed their month in Timor-Leste and what a month it was. We kicked off the month by completing our business model canvas and setting exorbitant goals for ourselves. The focus of our team was on increasing sales and customer satisfaction and tapping into education and the government sector. Multiple other workshops were incorporated into the month to facilitate broadly tackling the waste management problem in Timor. These workshops included an impact assessment, empathy workshop, a creative thinking and innovation workshop, value proposition and business expansion workshops as well as many opportunities for pitch practice.


One of the focuses this month was re-establishing connections with our past customers and determining why they cancelled our service. We found the overarching reasons for cancelling were that the service was too expensive, that they didn’t see the value in recycling or thought we paid them for their recyclables, that we didn’t have an established recycled product lifecycle for all of our recycling streams (particularly plastic), and that we didn’t take a large enough variety of recyclables (electronics, organics, paper etc). By gaining this feedback from customers we can determine what actions need to be taken in order to regain those customers and prevent current customers from cancelling our service.


In order to be financially sustainable, ERS needs to have ten loyal customers on-board and at the start of the month we only had three. Therefore the second focus was on recruiting new businesses and effectively marketing ERS to the local and expat community. These new businesses saw ERS expand our target market into a variety of different sectors including shipping companies, supermarkets, petrol stations, government administration buildings and embassies, defence, schools and the residential community. In terms of new customers we finished the month with a total of six, with our new customers including shipping, one school, one hotel and one residential collection. To expand into the residential market we’ve priced cost structures depending on different areas and ranging from $0.25 to $4 per family. We held a meeting with the community leader of a poorer local residential area of Dili and he saw the value in our recycling service and was willing to start paid recycling collection. His only concern was that the Timorese government wouldn’t know we were collecting recycling and would take away the recycling and our bins.


Our marketing has also been effective this month with almost ten word of mouth EOI’s, three of which have become our customers moving into February. Another three of the EOI’s expressed interest in residential collections in local and expat communities and we’ve had a delighted customer refer our service and advertise us on the Dili expat page. This may seem insignificant but the shift from personal selling to people now approaching ERS means we can utilise less resources in acquiring new customers. The interest in residential recycling collection potentially opens the door to being able to fulfil the Government’s need of a Dili-wide waste management system. Finally, the focus on the local Timorese community through staff education, volunteers workshops and a local school workshop (a total of more than 150 locals) has somewhat counteracted the perception that we’re our recycling service only targets the international community. The groundwork we’ve laid through the workshops has also extended our value proposition to include local education which has been a significant selling point for new customers.


The third focus of the project was partnering with government and non-government stakeholders to facilitate the rapid expansion of our business throughout the districts of Timor. The reasons we need to partner with other organisations is not only to be more efficient in the implementation and expansion of our business, but because we face several challenges in terms of land, capital and local insight and authority which can only be provided by other stakeholders. We focused on ten stakeholders including the Timor Foundation, the Red Cross, Asian Development Bank, DFAT and the MDF, amongst others. The outcome of these meetings is that we’re eligible for significant funding from the MDF, and the Timor Foundation may give us access to their funding as well as plastic recycling contacts overseas and directors of the thirteen districts of Timor. Timor Foundation’s vision is similar to Project Everest’s in their incorporation of locals into sustainable businesses that provide access to clean water and solve the waste management issues in Timor. The Red Cross has offered 8000 of their volunteers across Timor to help spread environmental awareness at our discretion in local primary and high schools by teaching our environmental education workshops. This reduces the resources we use in education whilst increasing local environmental knowledge, teaching Timorese youth presentation skills and positively marketing Project Everest at the same time.   


The fourth and final focus this month was on spreading environmental awareness in the local community through education workshops to staff, schools and volunteers. We presented the new and improved interactive staff education workshop to Plaza Hotel in the second week and to Hotel Timor in the fourth. The effect of this workshop has been a doubling and then tripling of the amount of recyclables we collect from Plaza Hotel, and we are hoping to see similar results from Hotel Timor. We’ve also been in touch with five local and international schools and conducted environmental education workshops in two of them. This has piqued their interest in our recycling collection service but we are yet to lock them in as customers due to our not recycling paper at this time. In addition to this we’ve also held environmental workshops at the University of Timor-Leste and with Red Cross volunteers. These workshops have not only spread awareness amongst locals of the impacts and benefits of waste management. They’ve also given us insight into what local’s knowledge of recycling and waste management and what they would or would not value in terms of our service. This allows us to address those issues in order to move into the residential sector for waste collection.


In summary, it has been an absolutely amazing month with our main sustains being setting up new customers for February teams to chase down, expanding our target market, marketing ERS more effectively, and educating locals on the benefits of waste management, as well as holding meetings with potential investors and partners in order to expand our business throughout Timor. The main improves (and please feel free to suggest ways to improve these) is our focus on capturing customer delight, interacting with Government officials and gaining their support, effectively documenting our meetings/workshops/conversations so that others can take up where we left off, creating and then following SOP’s for interacting with existing/past/potential future customers in order to collect standard customer information for our records, and communicating our value proposition to local customers. The fixes would include setting less ambitious goals and working towards them methodically, capturing video footage of our work and testimonies from delighted customers in order to promote our business, and making sure our personnel are well looked after in terms of sleep, nutrition and taking time to recharge.


Yet there is still much to be done in one month in order for ERS to be sustainable long-term whilst we’re not in country. So in terms of what’s next we need to obtain funding for processing equipment or a partnership which gives us access to their machines, land on which to operate, several trustworthy and hard-working employees to coordinate and run the business, a fully sustainable cradle to grave solution for the collected plastic and glass, and a minimum of four more loyal customers paying for the ERS Service. This may seem like an impossible task but we’ve spent an entire month laying the foundations for ERS to be sustainable by the end of February and we believe it can happen.

edited on 1st February 2018, 03:02 by Georgia Holt

Andrew Vild Jul 2, 2018

Status label added: Work Update

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