Entrepreneurship and Sustainability. Bilikiss Adebiyi Abiola
She is a Nigerian CEO of the Lagos-based recycling company, Wecyclers. She believes: "one man's waste is another man's treasure." She and her company have gathered many awards and prizes including the King Baudouin International Development Prize in 2018/19.
While some startups in Nigeria offer products or services to the country’s rising middle class or globetrotting elite, Bilikiss staked her future on trash. Wecyclers collects recyclable waste from neighborhoods in Lagos and rewards the households they collect from with points that can be exchanged for everything from housewares to generators.
Bilikiss started the company in 2012 with one employee. She now has 103, up from fewer than 50 when she won the award. She was recently able to hire a Chief Operating Officer and other staff to take some of the management burden off her shoulders and guide Wecycler’s growth. In March, the Lagos governor named her to a board mandated to reduce youth unemployment and promote entrepreneurship in her state. Meanwhile, Bilikiss is working with DHL to expand Wecyclers to Madagascar, perhaps by the end of the year.
Despite having accomplished so much, Bilikiss says her entrepreneurial journey is just beginning.
“My goal for Wecyclers is to be… a huge waste management company in Sub-Saharan Africa, where we are empowering people with waste,” she said. “I definitely know I’m not that person yet but I hope to be so in the future.”
Adebiyi's efforts have been reported in Nigeria, the UK, US and Germany in 2014 and 2016. Coverage included CNN, Huffington Post, "Die Zeit", The Independent, Marie Claire Magazine, The Economist, NDaniTV and D+C. She has been awarded grants from MIT and she has won a number of awards, including the Cartier Women's Initiative Award for sub-Saharan Africa in 2013.
Wecyclers were awarded the King Baudouin International Development Prize in 2018/19
Pic by Bilikiss Adebiyi Abiola.
"The 2013 Edition". Cartier Women's Initiative Awards. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
"NIGERIA: Wecyclers wins King Baudouin Award for Development in Africa". Afrik 21. 2019-03-27. Retrieved 2020-10-07.
Adebiyi, Bikis. "Bilikiss Adebiyi- Abiola: I chose waste for impact". Retrieved 5 May 2020.