Pearl Thusi is the new name to watch when it comes to sustainability entrepreneurship. The top achiever of the 2010/2011 Sustainable Entrepreneurship Programme, 31-year-old Thusi has taken on the challenge of leading this very same programme of the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa (NCPC-SA)
The NCPC-SA is an initiative funded by the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) and hosted by the CSIR.
"Sustainable entrepreneurship is all about green initiatives that not only assist industry in enhancing competitiveness and reducing their carbon footprint, but also by creating ‘green’ jobs," Thusi explains. "As an economic imperative, the implementation of green initiatives has great rewards as companies achieve substantial savings through resource efficiency and cleaner production, thereby contributing to their sustainability."
Hard work pays
A textile and clothing graduate of the Durban University of Technology, Thusi joined the NCPC-SA as an intern in 2009 after working in industry for some years. In 2010/2011, she was assigned to a Durban-based company for six months conducting energy, water, material, and waste-related audits relevant to the clothing and textile industry.
With the encouragement of her mentor, the NCPC-SA’s Alf Hartzenberg, and a specialist, Susan Barclay, she threw herself into the six-month stint and it paid off. Through her extraordinary efforts, the company achieved a savings of R1.3 m through improved water usage, energy efficiency and better use of materials.
Thusi was delighted, “First of all, it was a personal achievement to realise much more than I had hoped for.” The total savings achieved through the seven NCPC-SA interns who were placed in industry during the same period, was approximately R2 m; Thusi’s contribution was 65% of the total.
Ready for industry
Of the interns in Thusi’s peer group, she and two others have been appointed by the NCPC-SA. Of the other four, one registered his own consulting company, one was absorbed by her company and two are in the job market.
“Through our Sustainable Entrepreneurship Programme, we have been equipped through training and experience to take our place in industry and add value,” Thusi notes. “I’m an entrepreneur at heart. In my new role, I am looking forward to assisting students to become business leaders through green initiatives. By growing our local capacity in green technologies, we can help South Africa take its rightful place as a world-class industrial nation.”
There is nothing modest about Thusi’s vision of the future; she plans to continue on the good growth path that her predecessor, Andre Page, set for the Sustainable Entrepreneurship Programme. “I would like to see a huge roll over the next five years out of individuals who are trained through our programme and who have innovative skills and products to offer industry”, she reveals.
“It’s all about the right attitude,” says Thusi “For this financial year, we are planning on placing interns in the chemicals, clothing and textiles, automotives, metals, tourism, pulp and paper, and agroprocessing fields. Students will be trained and then spend six months in a company handling resource efficiency and cleaner production audits. Once they’re done, their new skills will be on offer to industry.”
CSIR Strategic Communication Biffy Van Rooyen, email: BvRooyen@csir.co.za