Interested in starting your own journey in environmental services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sam Bencheghib, Co-Founder of Sungai Watch, located in Bali, Indonesia.
What's your organization, and who are your members?
Sungai Watch is a non-profit organization on a mission to stop plastic from going into the ocean by cleaning our rivers. After growing up in Indonesia and living here for over 18 years, I witnessed the negative impacts of plastic pollution on our planet, so I have been fighting to stop it from getting worse for the past 12 years with my brother and sister. We launched Sungai Watch in October 2020 with the goal of stopping plastic from going into the ocean by installing simple barrier technologies in rivers to catch the plastic. We clean our barriers every day, bring the trash back to our facilities, sort it, process it, and recycle it into products. Since launching, we have installed 180 trash barriers in Indonesia's rivers and collected over 1,000,000 kg of plastic. We are now on a mission to install barriers throughout Indonesia's 1,000 most polluted rivers and beyond.
Tell us about yourself
I am passionate about creating social change and creating solutions to environmental issues. Growing up in Indonesia, I have seen the direct impacts that plastic pollution can have on our environment and on our health. At Sungai Watch, we are proud to have created a streamlined approach to tackling the issue by cleaning rivers, sorting the trash that we collect, and properly up-cycling it into practical and long-lasting products like furniture.
What's your biggest accomplishment as an organization?
In 2019, I ran 5,000 kilometers across the United States, from NYC to LA, to raise awareness about plastic pollution. I was running a marathon a day, six days a week, and speaking to as many people along the way to raise awareness about the impacts of plastic pollution. This six-month journey led me to start Sungai Watch in Indonesia after wanting to have a more direct impact on our planet. I launched Sungai Watch with my two siblings, Gary and Kelly, and we are very proud to have built a non-profit organization with over 90 employees dedicated to fighting against plastic pollution. Earlier this year, in January, we collected our 1,000,000th kg of plastic, and this is just the beginning.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being an organization?
Scaling. It has been difficult to scale our project to many different regions. Looking at the scale at which plastic is polluting our planet, we need to implement trash barriers in barriers all around the world, and this means coming up with a scalable system.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow an organization today?
- Just start. Things that may seem impossible at first slowly start to become achievable with dedication, passion, and persistence.
- Power of working together. Things are much easier with a team. We began to scale much faster when we grew our team at Sungai Watch and looked for experts in their own field, from operation to accounting, to marketing.
- If you don't like it or it fails, pivot and move on. It's been interesting to see what projects stick and what projects don't at Sungai Watch. Although failure is an ingredient of success, it can be difficult to get passed them. As difficult as it is, it's important to have a mentality that does not take failure too seriously and be able to be adaptable and malleable with your projects.
Where can people find you and your group?
Instagram (Personal): https://www.instagram.com/sambencheghib/
LinkedIn (Personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/sam-bencheghib-266a49b7/
TikTok (Personal): https://www.tiktok.com/@sambencheghib
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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