The first time I heard about Bilkiss Adebiyi Abiola, was at a session I attended at CcHHub. It was an ideation session. We were to discuss innovative ways we would solve key problems in Nigeria.
At a stage, the speaker told us to “open your eyes, look around. There are many problems to be solved we just don’t see.” We all nodded, trying to understand.
Then the speaker asked; “How many of you would attend MIT in the US, leave a well-paying job at IBM and relocate to Nigeria to set up shop collecting refuse in low income-areas in Lagos?” In a room of about 20 people only one person raised his hand- I noticed it was not so high up.
Turns out that that’s exactly what Bilkiss Adebiyi Abiola did. She left her juicy job at IBM to set up a recycling business in Lagos, which has since made a huge impact on the way Lagosians dispose refuse.
Bilikiss Adebiyi Abiola is co-founder and CEO of Wecyclers. Wecyclers is a start-up that offers household recycling services. They have built an effective & scalable structure that collects recyclable waste such as plastic and aluminium cans, sorts and sell them. Beyond collecting waste, they have created an exciting system that allows waste disposers gather points on weight and quantity of recyclables brought to them. These points can later be redeemed for gifts.
Bilikiss Adebiyi Abiola acquired her Bachelor in Computer Science from Fisk University. She also did her MS in Computer Science at Vanderbilt University. She got her MBA from MIT, Sloan School of Management. Bilikiss Adebiyi Abiola gave birth to WeCyclers in the second year of her MBA at MIT, Sloan School of Management. For a group project, she chose to tackle waste. She came back to Nigeria, did a survey and found the country was in dire need of this service.
In August 2012, Bilikiss Adebiyi Abiola Abiola took the leap, left her job as a Software Programmer at IBM and returned to Nigeria to set up WeCyclers.Barely a year after setting up, she won Cartier Woman’s initiative awards. That was just the beginning for a long line of awards and recognition. Only a few months ago WeCyclers won Case Foundation’s Pitch For Lagos. This bagged them $55,000 to scale up and reach other parts of Nigeria.
In a city with over 18 million people, over 10,000 metric tons of waste is generated on a daily basis with a mere 40% properly collected and disposed of. For decades, the remaining 60 % has been left to flood the streets, gutters and block drains,
With WeCyclers, Bilkiss Adebiyi is changing that statistic forever.
Writer – Josephine Stevens
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