Bilikiss Adebiyi is an inspiring Nigerian social entrepreneur and founder of WeCyclers. Her company offers waste collection and recycling services to the Lagos informal settlements, where an estimated 66% of Lagosians live. As a part of the process, residents are offered an incentive for collecting their household waste which is picked up for free by Wecyclers using specially adapted bicycles. To create incentives among low-income households to participate, rewards are given to them for every kilogram recycled, via points sent by SMS. These points are then redeemable against goods they value, such as cell phone minutes or basic food items. The rewards have been funded in partnership with big brands such as Coca Cola and GlaxoSmithKline.
The WeCyclers Solution
The WeCyclers model solves the urban waste challenge for households and recyclers. Wecyclers uses a fleet of low-cost cargo bicycles to offer convenient household recycling service in densely populated low-income neighborhoods. They motivate families to recycle plastic bottles, plastic sachets, and aluminum cans through our SMS-based incentive program.
For every kilogram of material that families recycle with WeCyclers, they receive redeemable points over their cell phones in return. Families can then redeem their points for goods that they value, such as cell phone minutes, basic food items, and household goods. Families receive collection reminders and rewards updates directly on their mobile phones making the benefits of recycling immediate.
After collection, Wecyclers aggregates the materials at the household level to sell to local recycling processors. Wecyclers provides a consistent supply of well-sorted, high quality recyclable materials to processors, thereby alleviating their supply constraints.
"We see a big opportunity here in Nigeria. We hope that in five years we would be able to build a strong recycling network."
WeCyclers is the recipient of multiple awards, including, the Cartier Women's Initiative Award, Tech Award, Echoing Green Fellowship, MIT D-lab Scale-ups fellowship, MIT IDEAS Venture Grant, Yunus Challenge Prize at the MIT IDEAS Global Challenge Competition, Carroll Wilson Fellowship and is a Sustainia100 company
About the 100 Lionesses Project
100 Lionesses is an ongoing project to identify and celebrate 100 extraordinary African women whose example serves to motivate and inspire a belief in all of us that we can pursue our personal entrepreneurial dreams and make them a reality. These are the women entrepreneurs fundamentally changing the business landscape of Africa. Women who are building companies and brands that are leaders in their fields. Women who are breaking the mould and turning key industry sectors on their heads with fresh approaches to doing business. Women who are leading new innovations in technology fields. Women who are creating highly desirable products the world wants to own. And, women who are making the world a better place through their change-making social enterprises. Even more impressive is the fact that these women, at the top of their own games, have never lost sight of the need to send the elevator down to the next generation of women entrepreneurs who aspire to follow in their footsteps. Each of our '100 Lionesses' has demonstrated that in the world of women's entrepreneurship in Africa, everything is possible if you have a dream, are prepared to work hard to achieve it, and have a never-give-up attitude to life and business. We are honoured to tell the stories of these women and celebrate their achievements in the 100 Lionesses Project. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa