Wecyclers is a Nigerian SME that offers an innovating recycling service adapted to the needs of inhabitants in informal settlements, thereby contributing to a better management of urban waste in Lagos.
Wecyclers was founded in 2012 and is a waste collection social enterprise aiming to improve waste management in informal settlements in Lagos, Nigeria. Collection is carried out using delivery tricycles known as Wecycles, which ride round these neighborhoods and collect waste from inhabitants. The waste is then sorted and delivered to local recycling plants. Wecyclers rewards families with household objects depending on the volume of waste collected, initiating in this way the local population in recycling techniques. Wecyclers has more than 3,400 partner households, has created 50 jobs and collected 525 tons of waste.
Born and raised in Lagos with her 4 brothers and sisters, Bilikiss Adebiyi has 2 children. She studied and worked in the States for several years before developing the Wecyclers project for an MBA in social business at MIT. She turned to the waste management sector, convinced that it had a massive potential for Nigeria in terms of both business and its impact on the population. She moved back to Lagos in 2012 and devoted herself full-time to Wecyclers.
Why is it important ?
Nigeria has a population of more than 170 million, 21 million in Lagos alone, the economic capital of the country. It is the most populated country in Sub-Saharan Africa. It is estimated that the city gains 250,000 inhabitants every year and that it will reach 35 million inhabitants by 2050. More than 10,000 tons of waste are produced daily in Lagos, which suffers from a lack of infrastructure to deal with it. Less than half of this waste (roughly 40%) is collected by local authorities and only 13% of recyclable materials are recovered.
Impact matrix and analyzes
Before each reportage, we perform an impact analysis of the activity of each small company using an impact identifi cation matrix designed by the project experts. This is done in close collaboration with the company CEO. The nature of the impacts identifi ed (economical, social, quality of life etc) as well as the stakeholders involved (clients, employees, competitors etc) in the company ecosystem are scanned. The content of the completed matrix is then used as underlying themes for the photo/video shooting and interviews once in Africa.
IMPACT #1 / Improving living environments
289 tons of plastic bottles, 195 tons of plastic bags, 43 tons of aluminum cans collected and recycled in a 2 years period. The use of delivery tricycles to collect waste allows easy access to less well-served neighborhoods and has a minimal environmental impact.
IMPACT #2 / Transforming waste into income
Partner families are essentially informal sellers and students. A partner family receives on average $10 a month from Wecyclers, which can be as much as 20% of the family income. 3,400 families are active partners, mainly from poor neighborhoods.
IMPACT #3 / Job creation
52 jobs created, 37 of which are full-time (managers and collectors). The 15 waste sorters have temporary contracts. The average income is $125 per month, $8 above the national minimum. A company who manufactures small, plastic balls employs ten people and depends entirely on waste from Wecyclers.
IMPACT #4 / Favoring local economy
Wecyclers buys delivery tricycles from a local supplier. Each one is worth $700 and there is a fleet of 25 tricycles, ie. more than $17,000 worth from this one supplier. Wec yclers uses software developed by a Nigerian company to handle their text message stream. They paid nearly $1,600 in taxes to the Nigerian government last year.
IMPACT #5 / Awareness and training sessions
Most of the employees come from poor neighborhoods and this is often their first official job. Wecyclers helps partner families to open a formal bank account in order to receive Wecyclers points. This bank account can then be used to pay rent, earn a salary etc.