Olamide Babajide goes out on the streets of Lagos to shop for old tyres, a key component for her furniture products.
Babajide is the founder of Pearl Recycling, a company that transforms recyclables like car tires, magazines, straws, plastics and wood among other things into household items.
The company offers money in exchange for recyclable garbage.
Over time I noticed that waste is a general problem, waste management is a problem in Nigeria that we have not been able to find a solution for.
Pearl Recycling was set up in 2014 with 5,000 U.S dollars that Babajide won through an entrepreneurship programme.
“Over time I noticed that waste is a general problem, waste management is a problem in Nigeria that we have not been able to find a solution for. Most times we see government coming up with sanctions, threats and you know penalties but it’s not working,” she said.
The company employs three staff members and has trained about 20 people to make both functional and ornamental pieces.
It takes about 45 minutes to make a pouf out of recycled tyres. Her products cost anything from 5,000 naira (16 US dollars) to 20,000 naira (65 US dollars).
The government is pushing people to find innovative ways of making money as the oil rich country continues to face a recession due to low global oil prices, making it difficult for entrepreneurs to run their businesses.
Babajide said that although the recycling sector is relatively small in the country it has the potential to lift many people out of poverty.
With about seven orders in a month, he makes about 3,286 dollars a year. She has also exhibited her work in parts of Africa and the Middle East.
She said Pearl Recycling is still facing financial challenges that hinder growth.
“I am here today to pick one for a client who we are doing an interior for and for a while the furniture are durable, they are beautiful, they are unique you know, compared to what you can see in the regular market,” said Tolulope Akinwunmi, a Lagos resident.
According to the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA),With a population of about 21 million, Lagos generates up to 10,000 metric tonnes of waste per day,
Babajide plans to open stores in other cities, providing practical furniture while contributing towards efforts to protect the environment.