With the population of motor vehicles ever increasing, there has been a surge in the number of used tyres being discarded in ways that are unfriendly to the environment.
About 30km from Botswana’s capital city of Gaborone, a 28-year-old man is turning this trash into cash.
Letlamoreng Mmesi has found a niche in his home village – Otse by recycling old tyres to create magic in people’s homes.
What started as a lockdown passion has turned into a potential big business venture. Before venturing into turning old tyres into beautiful décor, Mmesi was running a butcher.
Mmesi says he was renting a butcher from his parents and got frustrated during the first national lockdown when he had to go and buy cows as far as Jwaneng and required a movement permit.
“Getting a permit became a challenge because some government officers would complain that I was coming back frequently and they accused me of taking advantage to move freely using my business. Collecting carcass from the abattoir to my butcher also became a struggle due to limited access to transport services as most people were on lockdown.” He added.
That was the end of his butcher business as he felt running it was getting overwhelming during this new normal and that’s how he started tapping into his creative side.
He says he used the little that he saved from running the butcher to buy his materials for his tyre décor business which has in turn helped him navigate through life and complete some of his pending projects.
He now lives off his creative talent by creating flower pots, ottomans, tables and rents his refurbished tyre décor to events and filming crews.
He goes on to share that he got his inspiration from a South African who was using metal and corrugated iron sheets to make furniture.
“After seeing a post on Facebook I started thinking I could do the same using tyre, wire and wood. I started that very same day using my old car tyres and I managed to impress some people in the village and on Facebook,” he noted.
His first customer was a teacher from the village who then referred him to more people and that’s how his business started booming from these referrals and a lot of social media publicity.
He now gets hired to do décor in people’s homes. He also displays his furniture along the A1 road in Otse. He says displaying by the road side gives him more exposure and he is able to sell more as a result of the many cars that pass there on a daily.
He however acknowledges the downside of the business is when some people make orders which they end up not collecting as well as those that make him wait by the road side with furniture and don’t show up for it which means he has to hire a truck to take it back to his house.
“I had a client who owns a bar in the village who asked me to make three sets of chairs and only cancelled when he had to pay saying Covid-19 restrictions don’t allow people to sit in and therefore he’s no longer interested.” He noted.
Mmesi says he keeps diversifying his business by trying out new methods of refining the tyres.
He wants to approach high end décor designers like Chobe Design to lure them in to hire him as a consultant designer for them.
“I want to venture in to furniture shops that create than those that buy and sell, I want to show them my profile that I can design to their specific needs,” he said.
He says start up entrepreneurs need to work hard and put all the energy in their businesses to build sustainability and profitability.
For more on his designs you can follow him on Facebook at, Pade Tyre Deco.