21 March 2015 12:51:44 IST

Meet a waste entrepreneur!

Chennai-based Mathew Jose is brain behind novel start-up Paperman

Mathew Jose is a 25-year-old commerce graduate who calls himself and all his colleagues, some 120 raddiwallas, waste entrepreneurs or papermen.

Jose is behind the two-and-a-half-month-old Paperman Pvt Ltd that connects raddiwallas, households and NGOs in need of funds.

Paperman Pvt Ltd, based out of Chennai, offers its services to 220 households in the city. When households want to sell their waste, they call the Paperman helpline, from where the nearest waste entrepreneur is alerted. And the waste is cleared within 48 hours.

Two options

Paperman offers two options: recycling for a cost and recycling for a cause. In the former, people keep the cash realised from the waste, but in the latter they give it to Paperman, which, in turn, invests the sum in a social cause. Currently, Paperman funds three NGOs from the money thus collected. Twenty per cent of this amount is retained as service charge.

“It becomes a kick-starter platform where NGOs post their requirements and people start funding. People choose an NGO, make a call and give away the money realised from the waste to that NGO. So it is more of an impact-investment,” says Jose.

According to Jose, a social organisation/ business should focus on imparting social value to the process. And this, he believes, is Paperman’s strength as customers are given an option to support a cause they believe in; almost 90 per cent of their customers recycle for cause.

Avinash Satish, the operations manager of Paperman, says most people are receptive to their model as it is a win-win for all – more business for raddiwallas, a sustainable source of funds for NGOs and easy disposal of waste for the customers.

The foundation

The idea for Paperman Pvt Ltd came from Jose’s experience of single-handedly running the three-year-old Paperman Foundation of India, which creates an awareness about recycling and waste management in schools, colleges and other organisations.

“A year later I started out as a kabadiwalla, went to schools and organisations, and raised a little bit of capital before moving on to corporate projects,” he says.

In Chennai alone, 5,000 tonnes of waste is thrown away every single day. About 42 million tonnes of waste was dumped across the country in 2012. It can be worth more than ₹15,000 crore. So what if that kind of money can be channelised for social change?