Africa ClimAccelerator Start-Up Spotlight: ASA Nwura

Local authorities in Ghana are grappling with the labor-intensive process of sorting mounting quantities of waste caused by rapid urbanisation. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that the capital city of Accra alone produces approximately 2,200 tonnes of solid waste daily. To help combat this major challenge, Ghanaian start-up ASA Nwura is digitising waste collection to create social, environmental and economic benefits.

“We are a circular-economy driven cleantech company that is leveraging on localised strategies and adaptive digital technologies to promote waste recovery,” said Benjamin Agyin Turkson, the CEO of ASA Nwura.

Turkson was one of 15 entrepreneurs selected from an application pool of nearly 700 start-ups who participated in the Africa ClimAccelerator – first pan-African accelerator focused on scaling the most promising climate-focused innovations.

Headquartered in the city of Takoradi, Ghana, the start-up has rapidly expanded since its inception in 2021 with 11 full-time employees. ASA Nwura aims to educate recyclers and waste off-takers on the effective practices for sourcing recycled plastics while creating social and economic opportunities for local residents. The start-up also recovers waste that can easily decay and become harmful biohazards that leak and contaminate the soil and water.

“We are using a more localised, community-based approach that is rooted in transparency, accountability and ethics. We use an adaptive USSD platform that is easily accessible to even those without a smartphone or Internet access. Our strategic partnerships with recyclers and manufacturers enable us to have the ability to control price fluctuations of recoverable materials and then offer fair prices to those who collect waste,” said Turkson.

The start-up provides cloud-based waste management solutions for municipalities, households, property managers, institutions, and recreational centers to sustainably manage their waste in safe, environmentally friendly manner. ASA Nwura generates revenue from the direct sales of these recovered recyclables and upcycled materials.

When an individual wants to dispose of trash, they can send a text message using USSD number *836*22#. ASA Nwura is then notified and deploys field staff to collect the waste materials. The start-up has scaled its operations to ensure that its waste collection process is digitised to make it fast and seamless.

The all-in-one USSD platform seeks to connect key players along the value chain from waste producers and haulers to recyclers and manufacturers, in order to ensure the ethical and sustainable recovery of waste.

ASA Nwura offers two different tech products: Trash Safe, which is designed to ethically recover plastics, paper, glass and aluminum scraps; and Agro Trash, which is used for recovering agricultural waste and converting it into organic compost. 

The start-up aims to have 25,000 customers by scaling up in all 14 major communities in the Sekondi-Takoradi Metropolis along with four large municipalities in the Western Region. It also hopes to add franchises in other parts of the country within the next three years.

The Africa ClimAccelerator was designed to enhance the development and deployment of innovative technology to accelerate climate-positive business solutions for a net-zero Africa. From January to June 2022, programme was delivered by partner organisations GrowthAfrica and the Carbon Trust, supported by the Climate-KIC International Foundation and funded by the German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH (‘GIZ’) exclusively on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (‘BMZ’).

An original version of this article was published here on 21 April.