Nigeria is a country filled riches and wealth but like the popular proverb says; money doesn’t grow on trees so you have to work hard even if it means getting your hands dirty to put food on the table and for Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, she is getting her hands dirty literally and making millions from the wastes of households in Nigeria.
Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, former IBM programmer and MIT student born in Lagos, Nigeria. She studied Law for a time at the University of Lagos, Nigeria also known as UNILAG, but had to leave due to security reasons and ended up studying computer science at Fisk University in the United States of America, at the age of 17. From Fisk, she went on to Vanderbilt University, where she obtained a masters’ degree. On completion of her degree, Bilikiss got a job with IBM, and worked for a period of 5 years as a computer programmer before moving on to greater heights in her career to the MIT Sloan School of Management (Massachesetts Institute of Technology) to get a Masters in Business Administration.
But technology was not for her, as she preferred waste to computers and so she left the ICT world and ventured into the recycling business. Bilikiss Adebiyi Abiola is the CEO of WECYCLERS, a recycling company in Nigeria that functions as a profitable social enterprise that has revolutionized waste in Nigeria and transformed urban waste low-income neighborhoods into a profitable recycling enterprise, providing a reliable supply of materials to the local recycling industry.
At just 35, She has won several awards like the Cartier’s Women Initiative for Sub-Saharan Africa in the year 2013, The Sustania Award, Seif Awards, and The Tech Awards and has been showcased and recognized in various countries like the United States, The United Kingdom, Germany, and on popular media outlets like The Independent, The Huffington Post, CNN, The Economist, and lots more. Even here in Nigeria, she is being recognized as she was recently appointed to the board of the Employment Trust Fund in Lagos State, Nigeria.
We are honoring Bilikiss Adebiyi Abiola as our RISE youth of the week because where others saw dirt and rubbish, she saw potentials and opportunities. She didn’t see a problem that has been a source of menace and challenge to the country and the government, she saw a goldmine instead, and so this week we are giving her assurance because she deserves it. Today, WECYCLERS is not just a recycling enterprise but a revolution around waste changing the lives of over 5,000 Nigerian households, and as at 2015 had collected up to 500 tonnes of waste employing over 80 people.
In a state with a population of over 18 million people generating up to 10,000 metric tonnes of waste products daily, WECYCLERS promotes environmental sustainability, socioeconomic development and community health by providing convenient recycling services in densely populated areas and giving households a chance to generate value from their waste and providing a reliable supply of raw material to the low recycling industry. Currently, she receives immense support from the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and partners with Coca-cola and GlaxoSmithkline to collect their wastes and help subsidize their operations, because a bulk of the plastic wastes in the city of Lagos largely comes from these two companies.
Bilikiss Adebiyi Abiola is an example to thousands and an inspiration to youths globally to always seize the opportunity and invest in an idea not because it looks good or smells good but because it solves a particular problem not just a personal one but a national and global one.
Bilikiss Adebiyi Abiola is married to a wonderful man and blessed with beautiful children.