Nigerian waste management startup, WeCyclers, has won the King Baudouin Foundation African Development Prize receiving N81.4 million (€200,000) in funding. This provides the startup with the needed capital to aid its expansion across Nigeria.
Out of 244 applications, WeCyclers was selected winner for its development work in Nigerian communities. An award ceremony will be held at the Royal Palace in Brussels, Belgium on June 12, 2019 in the presence of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium .
“We are proud to recognise Wecyclers for their very effective model. The independent Selection committee selected the enterprise out of 244 applications for its innovative approach to engaging the community, turning recycling into an economic driver for communities and turning citizens into agents of change.”
Hervé Lisoir, Coordinator Africa and Developing countries, King Baudouin Foundation
Using SMS technology, a mobile application, and low-cost collection vehicles, the startup collects recyclable waste directly from local communities and sell them to recycling plants to be made into new products.
This way, Wecylers helps to reduce solid waste in the streets of Lagos (where it currently operates), while rewarding citizens economically.
Reports have it that today, Lagos residents generate 15,000 tons of waste per day, of which only 40% is collected by the local governments. So Wecylers’ model of operation helps to improve both the environment and the well-being of the populace.
Today, Wecyclers has over 17,000 subscribers in 7 communities across Lagos and registers 200 new members each month. The startup has also created 200 jobs in its 7 years of operation, with a focus on women who currently account for 60% of their workforce.
With its N81.4 million in funding, Wecyclers would be expanding their model and coverage in Lagos, across Nigeria and neighbouring countries. Wecyclers also aims to collect 5,000 tons of recyclables by 2020 and serve 500,000 households by 2023.
“Giving back to the community is in the DNA of Wecyclers. We want to expand our business to other neighbourhoods. In the midterm, 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.”Olawale Adebiyi, CEO of Wecyclers.
In addition to funding, the Prize also provides access to a wide network of stakeholders in Europe and the US.
This is a massive boost for the startup who already has notable backings including, Tony Elumelu Foundation and Unilever. It also scores points for the Nigerian tech ecosystem where most fundings go to Fintechs, Agritechs and healthtech startups.
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