Turning Trash into Treasure: The Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola And WeCyclers Story

In the bustling streets of Nigeria, waste management poses a monumental challenge, yet a beacon of hope shines through the efforts of young entrepreneurs like Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola. Bilikiss, a visionary woman, has dedicated herself to transforming the landscape of waste management in Africa, founding WeCyclers in 2012 alongside her cofounders.

Despite her upbringing in Lagos, Bilikiss conceptualized WeCyclers during her studies at the MIT Sloan School of Management in the United States. Drawing from her experiences as a corporate software engineer at IBM, she recognized the dire need for practical solutions to address the pressing issue of waste management, particularly in her homeland.

Inspired by a project aimed at aiding those at the base of the social pyramid, Bilikiss saw an opportunity to make a tangible impact on the lives of low-income communities in Nigeria. WeCyclers was born out of a desire to empower these communities while simultaneously tackling the pervasive issue of waste accumulation.

WeCyclers operates by deploying a fleet of low-cost cargo bicycles, aptly named WeCycles, to collect recyclable materials from households across Lagos. Through strategic partnerships with organizations like the Lagos Waste Management Authority, WeCyclers ensures that collected waste is efficiently recycled and repurposed, contributing to a more sustainable environment.

The innovative approach taken by WeCyclers not only addresses environmental concerns but also generates economic opportunities for residents. By incentivizing participation through a point-based system, individuals can exchange their collected recyclables for essential items, consumer electronics, or even cash, fostering a sense of ownership and empowerment within the community.

With over 5,000 households enrolled in the program and plans for expansion to other cities in Nigeria, WeCyclers stands as a beacon of success in the recycling sector. Bilikiss envisions a future where the Nigerian recycling industry thrives, creating employment opportunities for hundreds of thousands of young people and fostering entrepreneurship in new frontiers.

WeCyclers exemplifies a low-tech yet high-impact solution to waste management, showcasing the transformative power of community-driven initiatives. Through Bilikiss’s unwavering dedication and innovative spirit, WeCyclers paves the way for a healthier, wealthier, and more sustainable future for all.

Bilikiss has led her company to win the King Baudouin African Development Prize 2018-2019; Lé Mondé Smart Cities 2017 Global Innovation Award; The Tech Awards Top International Innovators Intel Environment Awards 2013 and has been mentioned on both national and international platforms of pivotal decision-making policies.