Eradicating poverty through waste collection is what Nigerian born Olamide Babajide does in order to solve the problem of waste management in Nigeria and provide sustainable eco-furniture as an alternative to conventional wood furniture.
A serious waste problem
Nigeria struggles with an overflow of waste. It’s waste disposal has become a major concern despiteseveral attempts by successive governments and private organisations to fight against this.
Olamide started Pearl Recycling, a social-orientedorganisation that takes solid waste products – like tyres, bottles, newspapersand plastic cutlery – and transforms them into home and office furniture.
More than enough materials
Olamide was trained as an Engineer with eight years Information Technology. In 2014, she started her company, inspired by her trip to the United Arabs Emirates where she discovered a piece of art that cost several hundreds of dollars was made from corn shrubs.
“While I was in Dubai for a meeting, I decided to go around and check out some art materials to buy. While I was at a popular store I saw these beautiful wall decorations and realized that they were made from repurposed solid waste,” she said.
“I thought to myself: I travelled to Dubai to bring waste material to Nigeria, and the fact is that they were not cheap, they were expensive.”
Due to Nigeria’s waste struggles, she started collecting waste around the town after she returned from her trip.
“I was still working fulltime when I started collecting waste, on weekends I would try my hands on different solid waste, so I started like that for two years before we became registered,” she said.
a start up with a story
Like any start-up company, they face a lot of challenges.
“For a developing country like Nigeria to run a small enterprise, it’s a lot of work. The environment is not conducive for businesses to thrive, but we wake up every day to try,” she said.
Today the company has over 50 contract staffs in Lagos with employment.
“Most of the waste we use is actually the waste from the streets, we employ people to clean the streets, so we also keep the environment clean,” she says.
Olamide says her company trains a lot of women. Especially widows who are struggling to make ends meet.
“Over 50 vulnerable women get trained, our focus are on women and girls,” she said.
Recognition from all sides
Even though the company is still new, she says she is quite overwhelmed with the success and being recognised in a such short space of time.
Olamide was named Techwomen Emerging Leader by the US Department of State in 2017; the Leap Africa named her as a Social Innovator in 2017; she was selected by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization to represent Nigeria at theWorld Entrepreneur Investment Forum at Bahrain and named by Tony Elumelu Foundation as a Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur in 2016.
“What drives me is the fact that I believe that there are lot of things to do in this country and seeing untapped opportunities by giving jobs to a lot of women,” she said.
“The fulfilment that I have when I see people that I trained making progress and going places is the best,” said Olamide.
Olamide is a changemaker, a dream chaser and an Innovator.