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July Editions

July Editions

Volunteer Spotlight: Kansi Udochukwu

On July 8, 2017, Wecyclers conducted a community outreach program in the Oyingbo / Ebute Metta areas of Lagos to create awareness about the importance of recycling and register more households for our free household recycling program. Kansi Udochukwu of member of the Wecyclers Volunteer Initiative shares her experience of the program in this piece.

“I volunteered for the Wecyclers community outreach in Ebute Metta, and it was a truly eye-opening experience. I came across this event on the Instagram page of Ukeme Esiet, an employee of Wecyclers that is passionate about his work and is extremely active in his community. Being passionate about a clean environment that protects people from disasters and diseases myself, I decided to volunteer for this company that recycles different types of plastic and aluminum cans by reaching out to the lower class.”

“Openly talking to the merchants and hawkers on the streets of eastern Ebute Metta was a strange and exciting experience. The men that followed us to our destination in a purple car blasted pop music and kept the environment upbeat. Fellow volunteers made jokes and laughed as we talked to various people on the streets.”

“We told them that a company called Wecyclers will be ready to give them redeemable gifts just as long as they bring their recyclable waste. Most people got excited about the idea that they could receive gifts in exchange for items that cost them nothing. Even idle children became ecstatic and began to pick up whatever plastic they saw on the roads!”

“I learnt a great deal from the hours that I spent there: most people, no matter their background, are willing to protect and take care of their environment as long as it easy and convenient. Despite the heavy rain and floods, it was an amazing experience, one that I would definitely do again.”

Beyond participating in the community outreach program, Kansi also demonstrates her passion for the environment in other ways:

“I started a petition, about three weeks before the outreach and the massive inundation of water in Lagos, that insisted the Lagos State government provide dustbins in public areas to not only reduce waste pollution on the streets of Lagos but to abate floods that can be avoided by the removal of waste that clogs gutters and drainage systems.”

“I was going back to Ikoyi from my mom’s orphanage in Ajah when I saw a large amount of waste on every main road in the local government. I was so appalled that I decided to go around Lagos Island to take pictures of the appalling waste pollution that I plan to release to the public in due time. Looking at the pictures made me think of how long Lagos State has had this problem and how the problem will continue to insinuate if we do not take action. So, I made a petition that simply requests for the provision of public dustbins in Lagos State.”

“Though the increase of signatures has stagnated in the past two weeks, about 110 people from all over the world have signed the petition so far. I plan to spread it to more people to reach my 5000 signature goal. By making this petition, since the petition allows signatories to make comments, I inadvertently created a platform where people could express their annoyances and concerns over the effects of waste pollution. This encourages me to keep moving forward and to work together with people to eradicate waste pollution in Lagos State.”

You can find Kansi’s petition at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/419/584/904/.

July Editions

Support Perfect Ecosystem Care Solutions (PECS)

Wecyclers’ Volunteer and Environmentalist Akindele Jamiu Seun has a strong passion for solving the improper waste disposal within Lagos metropolis this has propelled him to start an environmental firm called PERFECT ECOSYSTEM CARE SOLUTIONS (PECS).
Lagos State with a population of 23 million generates 13, 000 metric tonnes of waste daily and about 30% of these waste is collected which are not properly disposed, clogging the water channels and spreading several diseases.
PECS plans to solve this problem by hygienically collecting and processing of these waste using the best approaches. We make organic fertilisers from food& vegetable waste and recycling of used plastics into new product with an ultimate goal is to create a cleaner, greener and healthy environment.
*PECS* have kicked start their project by collecting plastics on Lagos street and sensitising the public on the need to always sort their waste before disposal. However Jamiu’s desires to extend our services to all 20 local governments within Lagos and as well have readily available equipment to process the collected waste.
In order to make this company known to the world, Jamiu has registered for an entrepreneurial programme organised by the NEXT ECONOMY TEAM which is sponsored by the Dutch government. He has undergone four months intensive training on how to build a sustainable business that will gain traction and recognition in the market and has now qualified to the final stage where he is to crowd fund for half of the start-up capital and the further half of 1000 US dollars will be given by the Dutch government which is .
Kindly visit the link below to donate for *PECS* project

With your support, we can achieve a zero waste environment. –

Jamiu Seun Akindele
July Editions

Here’s how working with Wecyclers fits to Ukeme’s goals

People make great great organisations and this is no different in Wecyclers. Ukemeabasi Esiet, a member of our Business Development team shares with us his thoughts about the Wecyclers Model and what working with us feels like.

Briefly tell us a little bit about yourself, focusing on significant events that have shaped your character/personality.

My name is Ukemeabasi Esiet, but I go by Ukeme. I was born and raised in Yaba, Lagos State, but went to boarding school in Abuja, FCT/Nassarawa State for secondary and did my higher education degrees in the United States.

One of the early events that shaped my character was the requirement by my secondary school that we do a community service project during one of our school vacations. I spent several weeks at a Catholic orphanage in Ketu where I saw young babies that had been left behind by mothers who had passed in childbirth or were unable to care for them. My time there really affected me and strengthened my resolve to be a force for good in the world.

Another event was the LeaderShape conference I attended in college as a rising senior. During the conference, we were guided to develop our vision statements of what we wanted to see in the world. Mine is a headline “A world where basic human needs are met and people pursue the goals and ideals that matter to them the most.” Living in that world is my dream.

My family also raised me to be God-fearing, open-minded, and to look for ways to be of service to others. My secondary school’s motto is also “Service of God and Others.”

What’s the story behind you joining Wecyclers?

I actually learned about Wecyclers when I was doing research for a project during one of my graduate school courses. In 2014, I used it as an example of an effective climate adaptation strategy that informed the background of my research.

When I returned to Nigeria to do my NYSC year in 2015, I met Ms. Adebiyi-Abiola at an event by Co-Creation Hub where they displayed enterprises that they had incubated. I had a brief chat with her and stayed in touch with her from that point. I finally joined the Wecyclers team officially in January 2017.

I work as a Business Development Assistant with the Business Development Manager, but I also report to the CEO and COO on special assignments.

What will you say drives you to success in your career?

I’m driven by my vision and my desire to have a positive impact in the world. I try to give my best efforts to causes that I believe in and I don’t like doing work that I don’t believe in. God is the one who has made these efforts successful and where I have failed, I have tried to keep the lessons I learned in mind.

What challenges have you encountered in the course of your work with Wecyclers?      

Working at Wecyclers was initially very challenging because there was a steep learning curve for me. It was my first major professional experience since returning to Nigeria. I had been a secondary school teacher in Sokoto, but this is very different. I was initially intimidated by the pace and the scale of operations I had to learn about in order to do my work effectively. Now, I’m surprised by how much I know, and I’m still learning more as I take on new assignments.

How does working with Wecyclers fit into your personal goals, how would you benefit from being a part of the team?

My work with Wecyclers fits nicely with interest in sustainable urban development at the intersection of government, enterprise, and community groups. I am always looking for opportunities to work with organizations focused on creating lasting societal impact by solving pressing urban problems.

Wecyclers is one of those organizations driven by a mission of socioeconomic impact and a grand vision for improving the continent. I am benefitting from my time here immensely. Bilikiss has been a great support, as well as all of my colleagues.

What expectations do you have about your work here?

I expect that I will gain invaluable experience from being part of the Wecyclers team and that we will achieve greater things as we continue our work together.

What are your thoughts about the Wecyclers Model focusing on its impact?

Wecyclers is building a low-cost waste management infrastructure using mobile tech and cargo bikes, and providing incentives for people to embrace the environmentally friendly habit of recycling their waste. In this way, it is promoting environmental sustainability, socioeconomic development, and community health in densely populated low-income neighborhoods and spreading those benefits to other communities in various ways.

I believe in this model and I’m excited about the possibilities. We are currently working on a framework for telling the story of our social impact and I can’t wait for us to share it with the world.

Featured July Editions

Taking recycling further, Wecyclers sets up new hub and introduces its model to Agunlejika

Just a few years ago, the idea of getting rewarded for your waste seemed impossible in Nigeria, on the contrary people paid to dispose waste, but since 2012 when Wecyclers launched in Nigeria as pioneers in the formal recycling sector, the trend of recycling has grown tremendously. However there still remains a lot more to be done in taking the message and enlightenment on the benefits of recycling to more households across Nigeria.

Over the past couple of months Wecyclers through it’s #LagosIsRecycling campaign and awareness driven by passionate volunteers has taken recycling to new communities where it recently set up new hubs/operational base in response to the growing concerns of increase in waste. Communities around Agunlejika, Lagos on May 18 played host to the Wecyclers team, partners and volunteers with 305 household signing up for recycling and over 50 recycling.

Lagos, Nigeria with a population of nearly 20 million people produces about 13,000 metric tons of waste bulk of which is left uncollected including recyclable waste. Seeking to address the challenge of awareness and enlightenment, Wecyclers through it’s volunteer network set up the #LagosIsRecycling campaign to actively drive the Wecyclers model and work to reduce the waste crisis in Lagos, create community and concerted efforts to improve sanitation in line with the Sustainable development Goals.

See pictures from the Agunlejika outreach.

 

Featured July Editions

A Volunteer’s Experience at Mushin Street Conference

by Omoukpon Unuigbe

On April 27, Wecyclers joined Susty Vibes as the team celebrated their One Year Anniversary with an outreach program in their #StareDownOnPollution campaign.

One of the members of the Wecyclers Volunteer Initiative, shares her experience below:

“My name is Omo and I was at the Susty Vibes Mushin Street Conference in partnership with Wecyclers.”

“I heard about this event through Wecyclers and I signed up immediately. Our simple task was to encourage people to stare down on pollution and then introducing Wecyclers as a solution to this pollution. It was a fun experience for me even with the sun scorching my forehead and the salt of my sweat on my brow.”

“I got to speak with sellers who were eager to do away with their waste and get something in return. The first person I approached unknown to me couldn’t converse well in English and I was just going on and on using all the big grammars known to man… Until the person just gave an indifferent nod after all the English I spoke. I immediately started again this time turning on my Warri Pidgin and I did a great job because the person signed up immediately and was so elated about the idea.”

“By and by, I had to drop my English for Yoruba and Pidgin in order to pass across the message. I later learned that it’s easier for people to discard their waste on the roadside and walk away, but when they realize they are actually throwing away money and other gifts they have a greater tendency to keep it and give it to Wecyclers! That’s the approach I used.”

I would to say we got good feedback and the locals of Mushin have gotten the message #StareDownOnPollution!

July Editions

Wecyclers at Gidi Culture Festival 2017

by Ukemeabasi Esiet, Business Development Assistant

On March 16, Eclipse Live Africa agreed to partner with Wecyclers to conduct a more environmentally friendly version of Gidi Culture Festival, reduce the eyesore of accumulated trash and enhance the experience of festival attendees.

In order to ensure that we met the aims of this agreement, the Wecyclers team worked with Coker Creative, the event production company that was responsible for designing the experience of attendees. Both teams drafted a collaboration plan that included training the cleaning team that was to be recruited by Coker Creative, designating a portion of the rented waste bins for recyclable materials, and removal of accumulated recyclable waste from Eko Atlantic to Wecyclers’ recycling hubs.

On the morning of April 15, Wecyclers staff conducted a training exercise for the GidiFest iClean team to introduce them to our recycling model enable them to identify and sort recyclable materials for collection. The cleaning staff was enthusiastic about their involvement and identified the best ways to sort the materials while collecting from the various gathering areas and vendor stands.

After training the iClean team, Wecyclers staff members monitored the cleaners’ progress and mingled with the festivalgoers. We managed to share our recycling program with a number of them and directed them to our website for more information on our household recycling program.

By the end of the event, a total of 135 kg of recyclable materials were gathered at the collection point established by Wecyclers. These materials were then transported for sorting and processing at our hubs in Lagos Mainland. However, a substantial amount of recyclable material was left behind on the festival grounds and ended up mixed with the non-recyclable waste. This was partially due to the fact that as the event went past sundown, the cleaners found it difficult to effectively sort the waste material they collected.

In the days after the event, the Wecyclers team identified strategies that could be used to improve the recycling process during future iterations of the festival and shared these insights with the Gidi Culture Festival organizing team. We were glad to be a part of GidiFest 2017 and hope to be involved in the festival series in the future.

July Editions

Wecyclers  storms Kosofe with #LagosIsRecycling

IMG_0551Hundreds of volunteers and scores of residents came out in Kosofe Local Government Area to drive awareness through the #LagosIsRecycling campaign promoting recycling. #LagosIsRecycling campaign, an offshoot of Wecyclers drive and campaign into new comunities, is a response to the growing concerns of increase in waste and a further decrease in awareness creation about the benefits of a clean environment and on recycling. #LagosIsRecycling campaign works to enlighten Lagosians on the importance of a clean environment and the benefits of recycling

The Kosofe awareness drive is the first in the series of forthcoming campaigns to new communities hosting Wecyclers operation and as well the first engagement for the newly constituted Wecyclers volunteer initiative. The awreness exercise had the full support of the Lagos state government and global market leader in the logistics industry, DHL and insurance giants.IMG_0717

 “Waste burden seems like an increasing problem globally, while we can decide to complain about this we felt there is also a part to play by creating awareness and driving awareness and as well reaching new communities thus promoting recycling agenda which the Lagos state Government under the watch of Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode wholeheartedly supports, this time we took this awareness to a Kosofe community we have just started operations in.” Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola said.

On Wecyclers role in promoting recycling Mrs Adebiyi-Abiola said; “We face a sobering waste crisis that will only worsen as population continues to soar. The government and its mercenaries have become overburdened and can only collect just a certain percentage of the daily waste produced.
IMG_0680People living in slum conditions without formal waste collection are subject to increased flooding, disease spread, and psychological stress that results from unmanaged trash heaps. Concurrently, recycling firms in Lagos face a supply constraint—they cannot access adequate supply of quality materials required for processing. One of the large recycling firms in the country is operating its factory at 50 to 60% below capacity. We recognized this and introduced our model which to a considerable extent solves the urban waste challenge for households and recyclers.

We motivate families to recycle plastic bottles, plastic sachets, and aluminum cans through our SMS-based incentive program. For every kilogram of material that families recycle with us, they receive redeemable Wecyclers’ points over their cell phones in return. Families can then redeem their points for goods that they value, such as cell phone minutes, basic food items, and household goods. Families receive collection reminders and rewards updates directly on their mobile phones making the benefits of recycling immediate.

The #LagosIsRecycling is one of the avenues we have created to promote recycling and as well drive the need to clean up our environment.”

This campaign is actively driven by our team of volunteers and to join the network of volunteers please visit www.volunteer.wecyclers.com

For more information about what Wecyclers is doing or to arrange to interview, please email founders@wecyclers.com

 

July Editions

How Irebami is driving the recycling agenda through diligence

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Taiwo Irebami at the Ebute-Metta Hub

In 2016 Taiwo Irebami got to know of Wecyclers as “one of the fastest growing recycling firms in Lagos” through a friend. Taking that knowledge to action, Irebami joined the Wecyclers team as a volunteer for the Clean9ja project, leading the Ota recycling movement in the clean9ja campaign of March 2016 which held in 3 cities across the country.

Irebami would then go on to intern with the Wecyclers Data entry department, working tirelessly with the team. His hard work was rewarded in May 2016 when he was appointed a Trainee manager in May and he held this role until December 2016. In December 2016, Wecyclers initiated an expansion drive which has seen an expansion to 2 new local governments and tens of communities across Lagos, this expansion necessitated the employment of new staff and with the zeal and hard work Irebami had shown over the months he was subsequently made Hub manager for the Ebute Metta hub, supervising over 40 staff and been responsible for one of Wecyclers biggest facility.

IMG_0405For Irebami, “working at the  Ebute Metta hub is very encouraging, you see your work appreciated and you see what
you do scaling up and increasing the business” Also more rewarding is the fact that almost 5,000Kg of recyclable waste is salvaged daily from the community through this hub. Irebami says managing this team did not come as an easy task for him initially as he had no prior knowledge of running a team but through proper learning and leveraging on the available free flow of communication within the team and the management, he has come to master the art.

Running the team at the hub has him looking and engaging at all levels of the recycling process daily. The collectors with the Wecycles go into the communities to pick the recyclable waste and these waste is sorted by the in house sorters, sorting is done according to colours and materials before the materials are baled for onward transfer to other facilities. This process is done daily with over 40 staff working on this in the hub and Irebami ensures that every step and every task is done seamless with very little downtime and safely and with customer satisfaction as the goal.

IMG_0418On the role of Wecyclers in the community, Irebami says “I imagine the amount of waste we collect and what they could have resulted to in drainages, causing health challenges and it is also a great delight that we are expanding to new communities and driving the recycling agenda in Lagos.

With the demand for wecyclers operation increasing, Irebami says he is faced with the challenge of logistics as the demand far outweighs the capacity the hub can currently handle but with the support of the Lags state Government, Wecyclers is rapidly scaling up to accommodate more communities and even more volume of recyclable waste, given even more value through our incentivized model of recycling and creating a system of Recycling where everyone wins.

July Editions

Getting a taste of Social Entrepreneurship through Wecyclers

Our biggest strength as an organization is the team. We have a very strong team that is loyal to the cause, model and the organization, this is entirely different and a lot stronger than loyalty to the boss. – Boluwaji Oyewumi

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Boluwaji Oyewumi is a Mechanical Engineering graduate from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Nigeria. Boluwaji is passionate about driving sustainable development. During his time at Wecyclers, he served in various capacities including his last role leading business development. He is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community. In this interview Boluwaji further talks about his motivation, challenges and experiences during his time at Wecyclers.

I started out my career working for an international firm and left after six months there to pursue my dream of social entrepreneurship. I felt that the corporate environment boxed me in. I needed more flexibility and an organization that would support my dreams, and that was how I got to find myself at Wecyclers.

I got to know about Wecyclers through a very funny scenario. I was looking for movies on a friend’s computer and stumbled on CEO, Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola’s interview with Ndani TV. I immediately got interested in what Wecyclers was doing and decide to reach out through email. I was called in for an interview, which culminated in me interning with the Wecyclers team – learning what was going on within the social space and after 2 months of this I got in fully as a team member.

Wecyclers is a pioneer in the waste management sector with its unique model. Wecyclers has been able to carve a niche for itself while making an impact on the communities that it serves currently. The model works and rapid expansion is ongoing. I feel honored to have been a part of this organization and this model. Working with Wecyclers was a completely different ball game for me coming from my corporate experience angle. It opened my eyes to how social enterprises operate in developing countries, learning that little things really matter and how little things can as well blossom overtime. Wecyclers changed my approach to things, people, communities, development and it totally has been a positive experience for me.

What is your definition of social entrepreneurship? 

From my experience and learning process, social entrepreneurship is the “process” whereby an entrepreneur establishes an enterprise with the aim of solving social problems whilst being financially sustainable. The intention is what separates a social enterprise from a regular business. The goal is to create positive social impact within the focus areas.

Why do you think social enterprises are important for a country like Nigeria?

A country like Nigeria cannot afford to run businesses the regular way. There has to be a conscious decision to merge impact driven activities with profit making. The socio-economic problems affecting the country can only be tackled when businesses begin to understand the need for them to ensure a synergy between making money and creating positive societal changes. From the environment, to education, to energy, to health, there are so many issues to tackle and the market is huge for every impact driven business to succeed.

The socio-economic problems affecting the country can only be tackled when businesses begin to understand the need for them to ensure a synergy between making money and creating positive societal changes

How has working at Wecyclers improved you as a person?IMG_9239

The biggest challenge Wecyclers has is that of being a pioneer in a sector where only a few people have been doing it informally and we have had to make mistakes, learn and get better. We are surmounting these challenges and we have found strength, our biggest strength as an organization is the team. We have a very strong team that is loyal to the cause, model and the organization, this is entirely different and a lot stronger than loyalty to the boss.

The experience I have gained at Wecyclers from the team to the clients cannot be compared to anywhere else. Wecyclers has made me understand that you can do anything as long as you put your mind to it. Working with Bilikiss on several projects had shown me the importance of clear communication with your team and how the little things matter. Wecyclers is a family!

How can others looking to become social entrepreneurs get started?

Dr. Prabhjot Singh said: “We spend a lot of time designing the bridge, but not enough time thinking about the people who are crossing it”. Young individuals who are thinking about starting social enterprises must understand their target market, their problems and most importantly, how they can solve at least one of these issues using means within their reach.

Aspiring social entrepreneurs need to fully understand what social issue they want to tackle and strategically align their business model to solving that issue. They should never discard a learning opportunity. They must keep it simple and never over-complicate their plan. Go at it with all passion and determination. During challenging times, hold on to your belief and it will work itself out perfectly. Finally, cherish your relationship with people because those are the individuals you will call to grow your business and assist during the challenging times.

There were challenging moments and it was important for me to learn from them and as well the business needed these challenges to grow.

My next assignment involves working in new territories, I’m moving to East Africa to explore new aspects of social entrepreneurship where I hope to make animpact.

Boluwaji Oyewumi

Head, Business Development, Wecyclers

 

July Editions

Where Talent Meets Opportunity With Abiodun

Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads. – Erica Jong

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Abiodun Oshioye

“I’ve come to learn that there is nothing that cannot be done as long as you have interest in it” says Abiodun Oshioye, Technical specialist, Wecyclers.

Abiodun Oshioye is a technical specialist on the Wecyclers team. A 2004 National Diploma (ND) holder in Electrical Engineering from Kwara Polytechnic, Abiodun started out with interest in mechanical engineering but fate would see him study electrical engineering. After his ND, he went ahead to work with several firms before he stumbled on Wecyclers through a friend.

He was employed as a Wecycle rider but Abiodun got his chance one day when an equipment went bad and in his words “I showed up my skills”, he was subsequently engaged as a technical specialist working on the plastics crushing machine, electrical supply within the Wecyclers hubs and offices. At Wecyclers Abiodun says he has gained a lot of experience on new things and areas of mechanical and electrical engineering. His work with the Wecyclers team has seen him work on the Wecycles, tricycles and sometimes on the pickup vans. In his words “I love learning and it gets better when it’s engineering. It’s been really nice working here as they all appreciate me doing the job.”

img_0088As a technical specialist, Biodun’s work is not limited to one of the Wecyclers location. As he is involved in
all technical aspects of the Wecyclers operation. Biodun provides support to all the hubs across Lagos and to the office, servicing equipment and electrical operations to ensure that operations are running at full range. On a typical day the very cheerful Biodun ensures all the machines for operations are in good condition before any work is done.
In 20 months, as a staff of Wecyclers, Biodun says the teams’ belief in his abilities remains a major driving force for him as it has pushed him to do his job better and learn from mistakes. Also riding the Wecycle around for pickup of recyclable waste brings excitement to him “I’ve never felt bad about doing this job. I’ve had to ride the wecycle in my neighborhood and I do everything with joy as I believe this will make things work out well for me. I got the money I used in getting married from this job and even the money I used to get an apartment from this job as well. I’m very happy here”

On Wecyclers operations, “Wecyclers has helped a lot in Lagos, it’s like doing a cleanup/sanitation every day, picking up waste, cleaning the environment and getting people within their communities to know there’s also value in the waste. In my neighborhood for example you cannot easily see a PET bottle on the floor as people rush after these because they know they can get value from it, this has made me see that Wecyclers has changed the approach to waste in Lagos. I think the Government also has a role to play in the Wecyclers operations, we can do better as an organization and cover more locations around Nigeria. I recently watched a documentary that shows how the Government is of support to the South African recyclers and this can also be the case here.

img_0100The response around the areas we currently cover is impressive and that means we can make more impact but of course, we need more funding as well as partnerships from both the Government and the private sector. We have been able to create awareness with the little team we have and I tell my colleagues we need to put in more effort as a team.”

Abiodun attributes his success to determination and a good working relationship with the Wecyclers management and his team. When it comes to his personal life/career, Abiodun says he is working hard to build his skills and get better at what he does so he can be in the best position to take care of his family. Abiodun, is our Wecyclers person of the month!