The waste-to-income strategy in Nigeria is an innovative method to assist the nation’s economy while encouraging a more advanced approach to recycling. In a country that, on average, generates around 32 million tonnes of waste every year, of which 2.5 million tonnes is plastic, an emerging group of entrepreneurs is redefining the purpose of the waste straight from the dump. This could be one avenue for helping the country’s most vulnerable, especially considering that Nigeria’s poverty rate stood at nearly 40% in 2018. Here are some of the startup businesses that are making a profit with their waste-to-income strategy.
One popular waste-to-income strategy in Nigeria involves using technology to enable business agents to manage waste collection and disposal. The Scrapays startup aims to facilitate the recovery of recyclable waste in Nigeria using a decentralized ecosystem. Launched in 2019 by Tope Sulaimon, Boluwatife Arewa and Olumide Ogunleye, the company uses USSD, mobile app, web app and Internet of Things technology. The waste allocation starts with a waste producer placing a pickup order with a collector who has to weigh the items at the pickup point and pays the producer accordingly.
Typically, collectors are young and low-income individuals who carry out on-demand recovery tasks in a specific area. Next, the agents gather the waste from multiple collectors to dispose of them at the processing point. According to Arewa, Scrapays’ collectors’ network has grown by 25% monthly. Among the company agents, a commercial tricycle vendor makes around 1.3 million Nigerian nairas ($3,000) every six weeks from selling the vehicles’ packaging materials – cartons, plastic stretch wraps and light metals.
Mygbolat Waste Management
Another company that adopted a waste-to-income strategy in Nigeria is Mygbolat Waste Management. Established in 2021 by former banker Olatunji Olaribigbe, the company proposes to fight unemployment by addressing Nigeria’s trash crisis. More than 50 people currently work directly for Olaribigbe, as well as freelancers and contractors he pays on commission. He strives to expand the business to different locales to employ as many people as possible.
GIVO (Garbage In Value Out), which Victor Boyle-Komolafe founded, is a tech company that enables other companies to assume circular business practices. Boyle-Komolafe’s goal is to eliminate plastic waste in Nigeria. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company started recycling plastic, producing 10,000 plastic face shields. Ten percent of the shields went to frontline workers in Nigeria, like doctors, nurses and teachers as well as people with poor health. In 2021, Boyle-Komolafe said that the company strives to recycle 150 million plastic bottles over the next five years.
Africa Creativity and Sustainability Hub
In Ibadan City, Umoke Olowokere is an artist and former teacher who runs a small organization dedicated to creating and innovating “new ways to reuse plastics, nylons, bottles, [tires], papers, dead plants, bamboo scrap fabrics, food wastes, old wood, and other wastes into functional interior and exterior products that are durable and cheaper.” To celebrate her 40th birthday in 2019, Olowokere donated outdoor play equipment to 40 schools in the city that their students helped make. The entrepreneur has also opened the Waste Museum with the goal of training individuals and organizations on sustainable ways of creating wealth through recycling and upcycling their waste.
The waste-to-income strategy in Nigeria is a revolutionary vision to address global challenges. Such companies are setting an example of how to tackle environmental issues while fighting against poverty.
– Caterina Rossi