Editor: Marthia Keorapetse
WeCyclers is a recycling company which gives households the ability to get value for their waste while providing a supply of material to the local recycling industry. WeCyclers aims to build a low-cost waste collection infrastructure while raising general awareness on the importance of recycling for environmental sustainability and social welfare gained from reduction in pollution.
WeCyclers was founded in June 2012 by Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, and co-founder Jonathan Kola. WeCyclers is a for-profit social enterprise that promotes environmental sustainability, socio-economic development, and community health by providing recycling services in densely populated urban neighbourhoods. WeCyclers works in partnership with the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and collects recyclable waste such as plastic bottles, plastic bags, aluminium cans, etc. using low-cost bicycle-powered collection vehicles called “Wecycles”. It allows offers community members an incentive for collecting their household waste which is picked up for free. Individuals and households sign up for the program and have their homes added to the household collection routes. Using a point system, community members are able to redeem their points for household goods, food items or cash. Since its inception in 2012, the company has over 17,000 subscribers in seven localities in Lagos. It registers around 200 new members each month and has also created 200 jobs, with a focus on women, who currently account for 60 percent of the workforce at WeCyclers.
WeCyclers has expanded its services to corporate clients including commercial firms, financial institutions, religious organisations, and educational institutions to develop a customised and cost-effective recycling plan that meets the organisation’s needs. WeCyclers also works with corporate clients and donors to develop initiatives that promote environmental sustainability and socio-economic development that align with their core organisational values, add value to their business operations, and give back to their community stakeholders. It has partnered with corporations such as Unilever and Nigerian Bottling Company to launch “kiosks” in places where there are no collection routes. WeCyclers has partnered with 15 companies, some including Oracle, MITD- lab, Ukaid, DHL and many more.
WeCyclers also provides consulting services to groups interested in waste-to-wealth enterprises, sustainable development, and social impact projects. Since its inception, it has collected about 5,000 tonnes of recyclable waste and has given over $100,000 as incentives.
WeCyclers is funded by two investors: Co-Creation Hub Nigeria (in a 2015 Venture Round), and MIT delta v (a Grant in 2012). The company has $3.9M in estimated revenue annually.
Awards and Recognition
In 2017, WeCyclers was awarded the Grand Prix award for the 2017 edition of the Le Monde Smart-Cities 2017 Global Innovation Award in Singapore. WeCyclers won €200,000 at The King Baudouin African Development Prize 2018-2019 that was held in Brussels, for their work in combining waste collection with social development in some of the poorest areas of Lagos.
WeCyclers has also gained both national and global recognition. The company and its co-founder have been featured in CNN’s African Start-Up, The Economist, The Africa Report, Marie Claire Magazine, New African Woman, as well as winning the Sustania awards, Tech Awards, and SEIF Award for Social Entrepreneurship 2015, MIT IDEAS Yunus Challenge Prize, MIT D-lab Scale-ups fellowship, MIT Venture Grant, Tony Elumelu Foundation pre-seed grant, Echoing Green Fellowship, Case Foundation -#PitchForLagos event, among others.
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