A Nigerian woman had so impressed major international companies with her recycling business idea that Gilikiss Adebiyi was offered various partnerships and today, eight years later, she is changing the lives of her countrymen as well.
Today, this young woman had inspired many others and had become known as the recycling entrepreneur who put Nigeria on the map with her unique WeCyclers concept. Since 2012, WeCyclers had picked up 1,000 tonnes of household waste, signed up more than 11,000 households to contribute and created 103 jobs. Offering waste collection and recycling services to informal settlements in Lagos, the capital of Nigeria, Adebiyi had empowered many of the poor and at the same time, lessened the waste footprint in this African country.
In Lagos, 66% of the population live in low-income settlements. By offering them rewards in the form of points for every kilogram of waste collected, basic food items can be bought and it provides WeCyclers with sufficient waste to recycle. The rewards point system had been funded with the assistance of Coca Cola and pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline.
WeCyclers is named after the specially adapted, low-cost cargo bicycles used to collect waste. After a corporate career in software engineering, Adebiyi realised that she had to return to her home country and address the poverty in which 70% of Nigerians live, below the breadline and without any proper sanitation and basic healthcare.
While studying for her degree at the MIT Sloan School of Business Management in the United States, she became increasingly interested in waste management and her vision for a better Nigeria took her back to her African roots. Adebiyi realised that her country was literally drowning in waste and knew that her vision to make a difference, would benefit many. She had also been providing desperately needed sustainable jobs since WeCyclers saw the light in 2012.
Since the start of this project, Adebiyi had received numerous global awards and featured on global television as an “Eco-Hero.” She had also been invited to share her success story at the Global Forum in Bonn.
Adebiyi is changing the face of her country and improving the lives of the Nigerian population, one load of waste at a time.