Civil engineering student Nkosinathi Nkomo was unable to register for his fourth year of studies due to a lack of finances, but he did not lose heart. Instead he put his practical knowledge to the test and devised a product which could combat both the water crises in Cape Town and free up money to fund his studies.
Using the resources he had at hand, Nkosinathi created a company called Aquarenu, which sells a system he developed which recycles grey water at homes and businesses for irrigation purposes.
Nkosinathi sought help from his friends Sesethu Mazangazanga, a fourth-year civil engineering student; Njabule Gule, who is working and studying business part-time and Monica Masetola, a final-year advertising student at Vega to assist in creating the company.
They pooled their varied skills together and AquaRenu was born.
The water system is said to save 30 to 50 % of water by storing and filtering used water from showers, laundry, basins and bathtubs.
This stored water is then pumped out automatically for
irrigation after a certain period of time.
The entire process is automatic and currently a few residences and schools in Cape Town and Johannesburg have a unit installed.
“I always look for the silver lining in things, in this case, I saw an opportunity to work on some of the business ideas I got over the last few years. I came across a few articles online that were about water recycling and I enjoyed reading about how grey water systems work.
“I decided to build my own units with the aim of making them affordable so that a larger portion of people can afford to buy water-saving products.
“I didn’t need too much money to start once I got the first unit to work. Some friends and family were willing to help me raise funds to build the first batch of our irrigation systems. The main lesson I learned while building AquaRenu is that the people around us are sometimes all we need to help us advance,” said Nkosinathi.
He said that for many students struggling to find fees to finance their studies it can seem hopeless.
However, he said, people tend to network upwards and ignore the people around them when in most cases they are able to help them to achieve a certain goal.
“I’ve witnessed a few family members drop out due to fees and it’s heart-wrenching. I was just fortunate to have friends and family members who were eager to help me manoeuvre around my situation.
“For instance, my housemate is studying branding and she was more than happy to help us get professional brochures and flyers, my other housemate is studying animation and he helped design our logo and the layout for our website. I also learned that the way we treat the people around us plays a big role in determining whether or not we achieve a certain goal. Respect and random acts of kindness to those around us go a long way,” said Nkosinathi.
Nkosinathi said that he eventually wants to expand his business and create more water-saving products because he believed that the water crisis can be remedied by a collective effort from citizens of Cape Town and the municipality.
The team has been posting water- saving tips and alerts on their Facebook page and Twitter account and have been engaging with people asking questions and sharing tips on water-saving techniques.
“We believe this is helping us spreading more awareness on the water crisis and spurring more people into action,” said Nkosinathi.