WeCyclers has been declared the winner of the prestigious International Grand Prize at the second edition of the Smart Cities Innovation Awards which was recently held in Singapore.

WeCyclers which was co-founded by Bilikis Adebiyi, is an innovative startup that brings domestic waste collection and treatment to Nigeria through a fleet of cargo bikes and a waste sorting hub.

The country has been experiencing a serious waste treatment crisis: in Lagos, the city where Bilikis Adebiyi was born, only 40% of waste materials are collected and 13% recycled. This means that every day 10,000 tonnes of litter piles up in the city streets which leads to a number of health issues and the rapid spread of diseases for the population living in slums near those open landfill sites.

Worried about the situation, Bilikis Adebiyi left her job at IBM in 2011 to become co-founder of Wecyclers. Her main challenge was to bring people together to tackle waste collection issues. In order to do that, she had to adapt to local specificities in terms of infrastructures and ecosystem. “Beyond population empowerment through active participation in the collect and sorting of waste, we realised that there was a real need for large-scale recycling in Nigeria. The country was still at an early stage in this area compared to what other emerging states has done in terms of recycled materials management.” Bilikiss explains.

The Smart Cities Innovation Awards is organised by leading French paper Le Monde.