From filthy to filthy rich: Exploring opportunities for social enterprise to improve solid waste management in the Accra Metropolitan Area

Cities in developing nations round the world cannot keep up with the vast quantities of solid waste they produce daily. In Accra, Ghana’s capital, despite the fact that about 100% of the waste collection function has been ceded to private waste contractors, about 30% of the waste produced remains uncollected, ending up in gutters, choking drains and blocking waterways. This poses a health risk to the people of Accra Ironically, waste holds economic, environmental and social value, hence its potential benefits are worth exploring and exploiting. Current literature has largely ignored the role of social enterprises in improving waste management in the major cities of developing countries such as Accra. This paper uses the UN-Habitat Integrated Sustainable Waste Management benchmarking methodology, to evaluate waste management in Accra and to identify opportunities for social enterprises to contribute to improved waste management. It was found that there is a lot more that can be done in Accra to improve its current waste collection coverage, controlled disposal as well as recycling rates, which are lagging behind the international median for lower-middle income regions. There is also a vibrant informal sector which social enterprises can organize and integrate into existing waste management structures to contribute to waste segregation, composting and recycling. There are however gaps in the policy framework and legislation for social enterprises which continue to hinder the scope and magnitude of their goal of positive social value creation.
Thesis submitted to the Department of Business Administration, Ashesi University College, in partial fulfillment of Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, April 2016
Ghana, waste management, social entrepreneurship, Accra