Why social change is Altino’s business

He was born and grew up in Belhar, Cape Town, in a community characterised by gangsterism and drugs. He’s faced various personal, social and financial challenges, but always had a positive attitude and innovative spark. Altino Louw stoked that spark in the 2013 RAA class and in a business that manufactures quality products from household waste. This is how it happened.


I’ve realised that, as an entrepreneur, you can’t do everything. You have to focus and find your passion. Mine is helping people.” – Altino


There were many opportunities to get involved in the wrong things.
I could quite easily have become a drug dealer or something, but I wanted to make good choices. The people who raised me taught me that actions have consequences. I’ve always had a goal and this is what kept me on the right track.

Growing up, I didn’t know my father and wasn’t raised by my biological mother.
Some people around me really judged me for this. But I decided from a young age that I wasn’t going to let other people’s opinions get to me. I decided I was going to start my own legacy.

My first experience of being an entrepreneur was early, but not so nice.
I was very naughty… I sold cigarettes at school and got caught. From this, I learnt that it’s important to know the why and how of doing business. I’ve worked for other people for many years, but always had my own businesses on the side, from breeding dogs to insulation to selling ladies’ underwear to being a partner in a construction and printing business.

My role models are Raymond Ackerman and Alan Peter de Beer.
Raymond Ackerman is a role model because he created a platform for people like me to better themselves and succeed in business. My other role model is Alan Peter de Beer, the man who took me into his family and raised me as his own son. Even though he passed away a few years ago, I can still hear his voice telling me that I can make a success of my life.

Perhaps the most valuable thing I’ve learnt is not to make excuse and to take responsibility for myself and my business.
I’ve also realised how much I still have to learn, not just about business but about myself. I came to the RAA with a whole lot of issues, but I am proud to say that I think I’ve dealt with most of them. 

Some of the most important lessons I’ve learnt this year…

  • Doing good is good business
  • Networking is very important
  • Taking calculated risks is part of being an entrepreneur
  • Elli always tells us that your reputation is important and I’ve realised that it’s vital in the business world

I run a small recycling business in my community.
Our focus is on collecting household waste and using it to make various products, such as handbags and laptop bags. We’re just starting out on this entrepreneurial adventure – I’m still in the process of branding the business. But we already have seven households that we collect waste from. In return, we offer to clean the property or do any maintenance work that’s needed. These people are also potential buyers of the products.

I train uneducated and unemployed people from my community
to clean the waste properly and transform it into products – even if it’s made out of plastic packets, you can’t have a handbag that smells like salt and vinegar chips. I look for people who are interested in arts and crafts, and some of my employees have experience in the field.

I have a few standard orders each month, and had about 400 orders waiting to be made when I finished my studies.
It was a tough decision to come to the RAA because I had just started this business. But I’m now in a much better position and I think this business will actually be sustainable because of the things I’m learning on the course. I hope to have 70 homes contributing waste in the first part of this year.

I do consider myself a social entrepreneur.
Why? Because I am creating employment in my community, educating people about recycling, giving them meaningful ways to spend their time and now also considering incentivising employees who haven’t finished school, so they can go and do so. Education is one of the core values of my business. It’s not enough just to aim for business success…

This profile is a continuation of the lead article → Teaching the business of social change

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