Waste management is a major problem in Africa and several other continents around the world. There are not a lot of systems available to effectively and properly manage waste in Africa. According to a World Bank Urban Development Series report, Africa currently produces just about 70 million tons of waste every year. A lot of this waste goes to litter the streets and causes pollution. Pollution is harmful to the environment and is also harmful to the health of the local populace. Seeing the lack of efficient waste management, some African entrepreneurs have seen an opportunity and turned it into profitable businesses.
These entrepreneurs have developed systems and solutions to effectively manage waste. They have been able to reduce pollution, making the environment and the health of the local populace better. On this post, we would be meeting 4 African entrepreneurs in the recycling business. These entrepreneurs are inspiring and are dedicated to making Africa a cleaner place.
African Entrepreneurs in the Recycling Business: Bilikiss Adebiyi Abiola, Wecyclers, Nigeria
Bilikiss Adebiyi Abiola is the CEO and co-founder of Wecyclers in Lagos, Nigeria. Wecyclers is a for-profit social enterprise that helps local communities recycle unmanaged waste. The enterprise was founded in 2012 and she developed the idea as an MBA student in the USA. She saw the huge potential of the recycling sector in Lagos, Nigeria. Seeing as Lagos is the most populous city in Nigeria with over 16 million people. The city produces up to 10,000 metric tons of waste every day.
A lot of that waste is not collected or properly managed and goes on to clog the drainage systems in the city and also litters the city. She decided to change that, she uses low-cost cargo bicycles called “wecycles” to provide convenient recycling services to households in Lagos by using an SMS-based incentives system. Her business is very successful and has gathered local and international support.
African Entrepreneurs in the Recycling Business: Andrew Mupuya, Yeli, Uganda
Around 2007, the Ugandan government placed a ban on plastic bags because of excessive environmental pollution. This led to Andrew Mupuya who was 16 at the time to get inspired to manufacture paper bags. He founded Yeli which is Uganda’s first paper bag company, in 2008. He was still in school at the time but raised the money to start the business ($14) by selling 70 kilograms of plastic wastes, and borrowed another $3 from his teacher.
Mupuya then did research by visiting kiosks and small businesses to know if they had any need for paper bags. Once he saw that there was a market for it, he started manufacturing paper and now his business has grown exponentially. His business has been recognised by various international platforms like Forbes, CNN and he also won the $30,000 Anzisha Prize.
African Entrepreneurs in the Recycling Business: Lorna Rutto, EcoPost, Kenya
Lorna Rutto started EcoPost after she left her banking job in 2009. EcoPost is a recycling business that recycles plastic waste and uses them to manufacture fencing posts. The post made are used to fence houses and forest reserves. Her posts have become the preferred alternative to timber, she has been able to save 250 acres of forests which would have been destroyed to produce wood for building and construction needs in Kenya.
African Entrepreneurs in the Recycling Business: Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu, soleRebels, Ethiopia
Bethlehem started the soleRebels, a footwear brand in 2004. Her footwear brand is very unique because it is 100 per cent made by hand using locally-sourced and recycled materials like old car tyres, discarded clothes and hand-loomed organic fabrics. Bethlehem uses experienced and highly-skilled local craftsmen to transform these recycled products into beautiful and world-class footwear. Her footwear brand is doing really well, she has received numerous local and international recognition. Her brand sells in more than 50 countries around the world.