Female entrepreneurs sowing the seeds of sustainable empowerment

In a single-use consumer world that is still learning to upcycle, a team of female-led entrepreneurs from Malmesbury are ahead of the curve.
Growing Paper is a proudly South African business that produces 100% recycled and biodegradable paper products that grow into beautiful living herbs, vegetables or flowers when planted.
The company was started by Roxanne Schumann on her family farm at the foot of the Paardeberg with the help of school friend Nileta Knoetzen in 2010.
Their initial aim was to create a sustainable product contributing to upcycling culture and adding a little beauty to the world.
A decade later and the “Seed Paper People” have a sustainable business model that is inspiring in its originality and laudable in its ambition as a source of permanent employment to 35 individuals from the local community.
So where do they get their paper from?
“The people of Malmesbury are considerate and environmentally conscious. Every month we recycle 1 ton of used paper in order to create our post-consumer wastepaper,” says Roxanne.
Everything from used exam pads to the printed reams of office contracts gets collected in cardboard recycling bins that are stationed at the 35 schools and businesses across Malmesbury that serve as Growing Paper’s paper source.
But what does the future hold for Growing Paper?
“Having everything handmade in-house means we can’t be as competitive as a business in China or India,” Roxanne admits.
Selling to a local market that is price-sensitive and the fact that globally people remain largely uneducated around the ideas of single-use products are further challenges Roxanne faces with her team.
A financial investment would have one major goal for them.
“Job creation. Increasing market awareness will lead to greater sales which in turn, will create more jobs for the people in the surrounding areas. That may sound dull, but empowering people in our community means a lot to us,” says Roxanne.
It is for this reason that Growing Paper has earned a nomination in the Small Business Spotlight support initiative by SME servicers provider Lulalend and CapeTownMagazine.
“We take great pride in knowing that we employ a lot of people to make something that will make people all over the world happy when they receive it, and then again when it sprouts or flowers,” she concludes.

Issued by HWB Communications

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