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King Baudouin Foundation awards 2018-19 African Development Prize to WeCyclers, a start-up leveraging the power of communities and generating impact by redistributing the benefits from recycled waste

 LAGOS, 21 March 2019 – The King Baudouin Foundation awards the African Development Prize to WeCyclers, a Lagos based waste management start-up. The Prize will allow WeCyclers to develop further their business and increase their impact at national and international level.


By 2100 Africa will account for 5 out of 10 biggest cities in the world, and Lagos could be the biggest city in the world. Today, Lagos residents generate 15,000 tons of waste per day, of which only 40% is collected by municipal government. WeCyclers’ model is designed to help fill this gap and reduce solid waste in the street of Lagos, improving both the environment and the wellbeing of populations.

The organisation utilises low and high technology solutions that comprise of a mobile application and SMS technology, as well as innovative low-cost bicycle-powered collection vehicles, which collect recyclable waste directly from households, to sell it on to recycling plants before it is made into new products. Households are sent an SMS by WeCyclers informing them of any “points” earned, which may be redeemed for food, household items and other goods.

“We are proud to grant WeCyclers for their unique model”, said Hervé Lisoir from the King Baudouin Foundation. “We selected the enterprise out of 200 applications for its innovative approach to engaging the community turning recycling into an economic driver for communities and turning citizens into agents of change.”

The company has also been selected for its economic impact. By rewarding citizens with “points”, it allows low-income communities to capture value from their waste, and redeem points for household goods, food items or cash aiding daily life. Today, the company already benefits from the engagement of over 17k subscribers in 7 localities in Lagos. It registers around 200 new members each month. The Nigerian start-up has also created 200 jobs in 7 years, with a focus on women, who currently account for 60% of their workforce.

“Giving back to the community is in the DNA of WeCyclers. We want to expand our business to other neighbourhoods. In the mid-term, we want to be big enough to build our own recycling plant. Growing more for WeCyclers, means being able to give back even more to the community, “declared Olawale Adebiyi, CEO of WeCylcers.

Since WeCyclers launched its initiative, awareness around the issue has risen among the general public, spurring several other companies to develop new solutions to recycling. WeCyclers have also recently partnered with major corporations, such as Unilever and Nigerian Bottling Company, to launch “kiosks” in places where there are no collection routes.

Through its financial support of €200,000, the Prize will allow WeCyclers to upscale their model and increase their footprint, with plans to expand in Lagos, other Nigerian cities and neighbouring countries. The Prize also provides access to a wide network of stakeholders in Europe and the US, who will support them as they grow. With current growth projections, WeCyclers aim to collect 5k tons of recyclables by 2020 and could be serving 500k households by 2023.

The biennial award ceremony in the presence of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium at the Royal Palace in Brussels will take place June 12.

Media Contacts
For further information on opportunities for briefings and interviews with the winners, spokespeople and former laureates, please contact:
Graziella Chelo, Portland
+44 (0) 20 7554 1714 (direct)

For further information on attending the King Baudouin African Development Prize Ceremony, please contact:
Hervé Lisoir, King Baudouin Foundation
+32 2 549 02 23 (direct)

For images: Please find here images from the official King Baudouin Foundation Flickr account.

Further information

The King Baudouin Foundation
The King Baudouin Foundation is an independent public benefit foundation working in Belgium and at the European and international level. We are seeking to change society for the better, so we invest in inspiring projects and individuals. In 2018 we provided a total of €44.8 million in support to 2,350 organizations and individuals. The Foundation was set up in 1976, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of King Baudouin’s reign. For more information, visit

About the King Baudouin African Development Prize
The aim of the King Baudouin African Development Prize is to acknowledge the work of African individuals or organisations which have made an exemplary contribution to development in Africa. It also seeks to draw public attention to the many inspirational stories of hope, struggle and success which emanate from the development field in Africa. For more information, visit
Previous Prize winners include:

Dr Denis Mukwege, Nobel Peace Prize Winner 2018, for his contribution to founding the Panzi Hospital in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where tens of thousands of sexual violence victims were treated.
BarefootLaw Ltd for its work providing free-of-charge online legal service in East Africa to those most vulnerable to understand and defend their basic rights.
Farmerline Ltd for its work connecting over 200,000 farmers and enabling them to share information, helping some smallholder farmers grow their profits by 50 percent.
Kytabu Inc. for its work in developing an innovative textbook content-leasing app for students, making school reading accessible to 11-million students in Kenya.

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