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  Bilikiss Adebiyi or Bilikiss Adebiyi Abiola is a Nigerian CEO of the Lagos-based recycling company, Wecyclers. She believes: “one man’s waste is another man’s treasure.” She and her company have gathered many awards and prizes including the King Baudouin International Development Prize in 2018/19.
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Early Life

Adebiyi was born in Lagos, where she went to the Supreme Education Foundation secondary school. She entered the University of Lagos, but she left after a year to complete her studies in America. She graduated from Fisk University and then went to Vanderbilt University, where she earned a master’s degree. She worked for IBM for five years before deciding to study further. She was accepted to study for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).


She came up with the idea for a recycling business during her second year at MIT, where she was studying waste as her specialist subject. Her initial idea was to increase the quantity of waste she could collect from households by offering them raffle tickets in exchange. When she discussed this in Nigeria on a vacation she was surprised at the enthusiasm that was offered for her ideas. Waste is a particular nuisance in Lagos as only a small percentage is collected regularly. Adebiyi took the idea back to MIT where she was able to gather support by entering her idea in competitions. After graduation in 2012, Adebiyi moved back to Nigeria to be with her husband

Wecycle Rubbish And Recyclers In 2019

In 2012, she co-founded Wecyclers, a company that collects recyclable rubbish from households in Lagos. When the business started, Adebiyi would take out a tricycle to do collections to find out more about her new business. Once the rubbish is sorted, her company sends SMS messages back to the household, informing them of how many points they have earned for trading in the rubbish. These points could be converted for food, cleaning products, or cellphone minutes. The company works in partnership with the Lagos Waste Management Authority. Lagos produces 9,000 tonnes of waste per day and the authority was trying to almost double the proportion that was recycled from the 18% figure in 2011. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy but the disorganization in Lagos means that rubbish cannot always be collected.
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Wecyclers use modified tricycles which enables rubbish to be collected where normal vehicles could not go. Wecyclers collects from thousands of households. The company estimated in October 2015 that it has collected over 500 tons of rubbish, it has created value from that rubbish and it has employed 80 people. Adebiyi whose married name is Abiola has arranged for the Coca-Cola and GlaxoSmithKline to subsidize their operation. Wecyclers had found that a significant proportion of the rubbish came from these companies and they were willing to assist with the recycling effort. Guinness in Nigeria agreed to collaborate in 2018. In 2018 Abebiyi stood down as CEO of Wecyclers to become the Managing Director of the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency (LASPARK). In her new role, she will be keeping open spaces in Lagos State attractive and carrying out tree planting.


Adebiyi’s efforts have been reported in Nigeria, the UK, US and Germany in 2014 and 2016. Coverage included CNN, Huffington Post, “Die Zeit”, The Independent, Marie Claire Magazine, The Economist, NDaniTV and D+C. She has been awarded grants from MIT and she has won a number of awards, including the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award for sub-Saharan Africa in 2013. Wecyclers were awarded the King Baudouin International Development Prize in 2018/19.


Wecycler’s partners are said to include FCMB, DHL, Unilever, Oracle, the Nigerian Bottling Company, MIT Sloan School of Management. Source: Wikipedia Featured Image Source: She Leads Africa
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This article was first published on 31st January 2021


Jeremiah is a scholar and a poet. He has a keen eye for studying the world and is passionate about people. He tweets at @jeremiahaluwong.

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