Wealth in dirt: the Bilikiss Adebiyi’s story
Two business models have stood out as guiding principles for many startup businesses. One business models proposes ‘looking inside,’ while the other proposes ‘looking around.’
‘Looking inside’ entails bringing out certain skills inherent in you that could be of benefit to the populace, while ‘looking around’ involves searching the immediate environment for problems, and proffering solutions to them.
As to which of these models is more effective if a discussion for another day.
Our spotlight today rests on the Executive Officer of Wecyclers, a waste collection plant in Lagos, Nigeria, Bilikiss Adebiyi who is creating wealth from her environment.
Bilikiss Adebiyi was born into a family of 5 in Lagos, south western Nigeria. She had her nursery and primary education at corona nursery and primary school in Ikoyi, Lagos state.
Bilikiss attended supreme education foundation where she had her secondary education from which she proceeded to the University of Lagos to study law.
The situation at the University of Lagos at that time was terrible. From deplorable hostel conditions to lack of infrastructure, the University was facing a hard time. To make matters worse was the constant fights and clashes that erupted between certain groups of students.
Bilikiss spent a year at the university amidst all this situations, after which she could not continue. The security situation made Bilikiss and her parents scared for her safety and as such concluded that she goes outside the shores of the country to complete her education.
Bilikiss travelled to the USA to complete her education. However, as fate would have it, Bilikiss while in the United States got interested in the computerized nature of activities in the country , and she opted to study computer science.
The CEO of Wecyclers who prides herself as being analytical and a problem solver got a B.SC in computer science from Fisk University as well as an M.SC from Vanderbilt University.
After her M.SC, Bilikiss worked for a while with a technology company and decided to go back to school. She enrolled for a programme at MIT Sloan School of Management which was where the idea of Wecyclers was born.
During her programme at MIT, she was issued a project which was aimed at finding tangible solutions to problems faced by indigent people.
The award winning social entrepreneur looked at the situation in Nigeria. She considered the fact that waste management and hygiene was a huge problem with resulted in a lot of people falling ill due to poor waste management and dirty environment.
She decided to find a solution to the problem and as such choose waste management as a topic in her project work.
Upon her return to Nigeria, Bilikiss turned her project work into something practical which gave rise to Wecyclers.
She constructed a fleet of cargo bicycles which she deployed to various homes in Lagos on a weekly basis to collect their waste.
She opted to use these bicycles instead of cars or any other means of transportation because of the ease with which these bicycles could enter any neighborhood, irrespective of its road condition.
Wecyclers makes returns on its business by selling the materials to various manufacturing company which recycles the waste and uses them in production.
Having the residents of Lagos to cooperate with her was a problem initially. Wecyclers then came up with a programme whereby points are given to the residents in exchange for their waste such as plastics, polyethylene and metal cans.
These points when accumulated by these residents, could be redeemed for items such as food, call credit, electronics or cash. This programme endeared Wecyclers to the populace so much that over 5,000 households is currently registered with the company.
With current staff strength of 52 and plans for expansion across all states of the country, the CEO of Wecyclers sees a huge potential in the waste recycling business in terms of wealth and job creation.
As the cost of importation of raw materials for production continues to soar, recycling seems to be a very cheaper alternative.
The MIT graduate plans to open a recycling plant in the nearest future, to add more value to their waste collection.
Bilikiss has also gained recognition in her own right. She was named onto the board of the Employment Trust Fund recently by the Lagos State government.
So take a look at your immediate environment, a solution still needs to be found.
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