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  • Writer's pictureShe Business Time

"Betty Osei Bonsu: Empowering Africa's Youth for a Greener Future"

Updated: May 6

In the quest for a sustainable future, Betty Osei Bonsu has emerged as a driving force, spearheading the Green Africa Youth Movement with passion and purpose. As a leader in the field of circular economy, Betty is dedicated to harnessing the energy and potential of Africa's youth to create positive environmental change.

Join us as we explore Betty Osei Bonsu's inspiring journey, her transformative work with the Green Africa Youth Movement, and her vision for a greener, more sustainable Africa.

1.Can you share with our readers your journey into the circular economy space and what inspired your interest in this area?

My journey into the circular economy space began early in my life, inspired by the vivid disparities in waste management I observed in my childhood days. Growing up, I witnessed firsthand the challenges and opportunities within waste management, particularly how the marginalized were the forefront heroes of recycling and waste management. This experience, coupled with my academic and professional pursuits, including the production of fuel briquettes from palm kernel shell waste during my undergraduate days, paved my way into environmental advocacy and sustainable development. My work with the Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO) in Ghana and Uganda and my storytelling platform, B. Inspired with Stories from Africa, further solidified my commitment to promoting circular economies, focusing on community capacity building, green jobs creation, environmental protection and inspirational community stories.

2.As a woman leader in the circular economy field, what unique perspectives or approaches do you bring to the table?

As a woman leader in the circular economy field, I bring unique perspectives rooted in resilience, inclusivity, and a deep understanding of community dynamics. My experiences of overcoming gender biases and championing projects like the Zero Waste Cities have taught me the importance of persistence, creativity, and leveraging local resources. I believe in empowering marginalized groups, especially women and youth, to engage in green jobs and activities, fostering a circular economy that not only generates economic opportunities but tells the story of sustainability in environmental conservation.

3.What are some of the key challenges you've faced as a woman leader in this industry, and how have you overcome them?

The challenges I've faced as a woman leader in this industry include; Gender Bias and Youth Incapability Mindset: Overcoming gender bias and scepticism about young people's ability to effect change has been challenging. In one instance, when proposing a Zero Waste project, my age and gender were questioned, but persistence and passion have helped me break stereotypes and prove our worth including furthering my master's with the United Nations University. Limited Access to Finance: Financial constraints were tackled by maximizing existing resources, forming partnerships, and utilizing volunteer efforts, allowing us to achieve significant outcomes with limited funds. Lack of Coordination Among Youth: Noticing young activists working in isolation, we established the Youth Climate Council to enhance collaboration and amplify collective action, urging the inclusion of youth in decision-making at all levels. Underutilization of Communication Tools: I prioritized using social media, storytelling, and digital platforms to broaden our reach, share experiences, and increase the visibility and impact of our initiatives. Limited Youth Engagement: To engage more young people in environmental advocacy, I initiated the GAYO Eco Club Campus Chapters, offering programs and mentorship that underline the importance of their voices and potential as change-makers.

4.Could you highlight some of your notable contributions or initiatives within the circular economy space that have made a positive impact?

My notable contributions to the circular economy include the development and implementation of Zero Waste City Models across Africa. Starting in Ghana, these models have been expanded to multiple cities in Africa including Kampala, Uganda, significantly reducing methane pollution and enhancing urban resilience by diverting waste from oceans, ecosystems, and landfills. Through strategic advocacy, we've integrated climate education into community projects and schools, established eco-club chapters in universities, and driven community sensitization for behavioural change. Working with the GAYO, We've built infrastructure like Material Recovery Facilities and buyback centers to support waste segregation and recycling. Our capacity-building efforts focus on training women and youth for green jobs, using municipal waste for upcycling and fostering community-based enterprises that promote a circular economy. We've empowered over 3,000 waste pickers and supported small and medium enterprises, enhancing waste collection and recycling processes. Policy influence efforts have led to the integration of no-burning laws and the adoption of a comprehensive waste management guide in municipal policies. Our initiatives have not only provided seed funding for youth-led sustainability projects but have also led to improved community waste management practices, preventing flooding and promoting environmental sustainability. These efforts collectively contribute to the growth of circular economies in Africa, creating economic opportunities while reducing environmental impact.

5.How do you see the role of women entrepreneurs evolving in shaping the future of the circular economy?

I see women entrepreneurs playing a crucial role in nurturing and shaping the future of the circular economy by driving innovation, creating sustainable business models, and championing environmental stewardship. Their unique perspectives, caring abilities and leadership can accelerate the transition towards a more sustainable and equitable economy, where waste is minimized, and resources are efficiently utilized.

6.In your opinion, what are some of the most promising opportunities for women-led businesses within the circular economy framework?

The most promising opportunities for women-led businesses within the circular economy framework lie in eliminating waste and pollution and the regenerate nature. These areas offer immense potential for innovation, job creation, and environmental impact, providing a platform for women entrepreneurs to showcase their leadership and contribute significantly to the circular economy.

7.How can businesses, governments, and society at large better support and encourage women's participation and leadership in advancing the circular economy agenda?

Businesses, governments, and society can support women's participation and leadership in the circular economy by promoting gender equality in decision-making processes, providing access to finance and resources, platforms to share their positive impacts and fostering an inclusive environment that values and leverages the unique contributions of women.

8.What advice would you give to aspiring women leaders who are interested in pursuing a career or business venture in the circular economy sector?

To aspiring women leaders interested in the circular economy sector, I say: let your passion guide you and own your story. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, seek mentorship, and leverage your unique perspectives to drive change. Remember, your voice is powerful, and your actions can inspire others and contribute to a more sustainable future.

9.Can you share any personal experiences or anecdotes that have shaped your understanding of the importance of sustainability and circularity in business?

In 2021, I walked into the Municipal Directors office in the Greater Acca Municipal office and asked for them to partner with us on our Zero Wate project. They said you are 23 years old and a female what can you do? Breaking down these stereotypes is an ongoing process, and my success in projects like the Zero Waste initiative is a testament to the power of persistence and passion.

10.Looking ahead, what do you envision as the future of the circular economy movement, and how do you see women playing a pivotal role in driving its growth and innovation?

Looking ahead, I envision a future where the circular economy movement is defined by successful narratives, innovation, inclusivity, and resilience. Women will play a pivotal role in driving this transformation, leveraging their leadership, creativity, and commitment to sustainability. Together, we can build a more sustainable world that values and protects our environment for future generations.

Published By She Business Time


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