Meet the Lagos woman who picks money on the streets


Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, a born-and-raised, has a plan to reconnect citizens to the megacity by linking them to out-of-reach municipal services, while also building a network through which community resilience can flourish.

To really appreciate what this lady did lets take a look at the following facts:Lagos is the most populous city in Africa, statistics says Nigerian has seen 5% increase in number living below $1 per day, 60% of Lagos 18 million population live in slum neighborhood.However, Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, a born-and-raised Lagosian, has a plan to reconnect citizens to the mega city by linking them to out-of-reach municipal services, while also building a network through which community resilience can flourish.


She said:“I was really awoken by this”. While enrolled on the MBA programme at MIT, Bilikiss submitted the bones of what is now her business as a one page assignment. But after discussing the idea with classmates, she felt that she was on to something, and that something turned out to be a necessity for people living in low-income areas of her hometown.

“Waste is currently a big problem for people living in poor conditions, but I want to turn it into a solution,” Bilikiss says. The city’s waste collection system currently requires citizens to pay a fee for the service based on the size of their home – a charge that many are unable to afford, and so rubbish is left on the streets or burned. “Even when people do want trash collected, the road network is too challenging,” she explains. “People park, double park, even triple park. It’s impossible for vehicles to get to it.”

As a result, only 40% of the city’s waste is collected and only 13% is recycled each year. The rest of it sits on the streets, increasing the spread of diseases and clogging up drains which can lead to flooding. But, simultaneously, recycling plants in Lagos lack an adequate supply of recyclable materials for processing. Bilikiss is providing the missing link.

“It’s literally money just lying in the streets”: she estimates that metal and plastic waste in Lagos is worth around $700mn. By deploying a fleet of low-cost, environmentally friendly bikes into the narrow streets and alleys of the city’s slum neighbourhoods, Wecyclers can reach the rubbish that the municipal waste collectors are unable to get to.

Since launching two years ago, Wecyclers has employed over 80 Lagosians, from cargo-bike collectors to waste sorters, who have cleared over 525 tons of waste from the streets and connected over 6,500 households to the service. “Now, we’ve noticed that we’ve stopped actively reaching out to households to register people as more and more are coming directly to us. They want to be part of the movement,” Bilikiss says. “People see their friends getting rewards for clearing up, and they want the same thing. The incentive is there and people are really keen to do it.”


SOURCE: EIN News, Gistmie