How Ecopreneurs Alleviate Poverty in Africa

At just 16 years old, YELI founder Andrew Mupuya recognized a need in the Ugandan market for paper bags. The Ugandan government had recently discussed banning plastic bags to alleviate plastic pollution that results in environmental degradation. Starting Yeli with just $14 in 2008, Mupuya now employs more than 50 locals at his growing business.


With no initial capital, I cleaned the environment by collecting used plastic bottles and sold them to a plastic recycling plant. After I had raised my initial seed capital of 36,000 Ugandan shillings ($14), I soon started making paper bags at a small scale while still in high school.

YELI proposes eco friendly paper bags from recycled paper

I was born in the rural area of Mbale, Uganda, I moved to Kampala on a half bursary to study at an advanced level. It later became a hurdle to cater for my needs while at school after my parents became unemployed. In 2008, at the age of 16, I saw a market opportunity in creating paper bags. As the Ugandan government leaned towards a ban on use of polythene plastic bags, I decided to venture into an environmentally friendly project of paper bag production.