If one man’s meat is another’s poison, there’s an entrepreneur who has also found that he can turn one man’s junk into a treasure trove. His story is a must-read.
IDEA: There are used tyres everywhere in Nigeria; just take a look around you. From mechanic workshops to heaps, street corners and roadsides, they litter everywhere and could sometimes be an eyesore and a road user’s nightmare at the same time. But one start-up has decided to take them off the streets in a quite unique way.
Olaide Adeyemi Ayodele had worked in the financial sector for 15 years, 10 of them in banking. In 2016, she decided to take advantage of two major situations to venture into waste management and recycling.
She said, “We have a family business of cleaning and fumigation. So in the course of the business, we realized that one of the challenges confronting Lagos and many other states in Nigeria was sanitation and waste management.”
According to Olaide, another factor which encouraged her to want to manage and recycle wastes was the effort of the Lagos State government towards ensuring a better sanitation and cleaner environment.
“There is so much waste in Lagos,” she said. “For example, vehicle tyres, plastic bottles, pure water sachet and the like, and the state government has been putting in so much effort to reduce this waste and its effect on the environment. My husband and I saw the damage that waste was causing to individuals, communities, towns, cities, companies and the nation at large and we decided to do something.”
WHAT NEXT? Olaide started collecting used tyres in October 2016 and, earlier this year, she registered JD Recycling, a firm which makes household items from used tyres. The mother of two and her three staff make chairs, tables, wall clocks, wall designs, landscape designs, wall planters, playground items and other utilities from used tyres collected from mechanic shops, dumpsites and in the streets of Lagos.
But why tyres, of all recyclable materials?
It sounded like a familiar question. She smiled and said, “The fact that we can convert tyres of all sizes to something you can use to beautify your homes and environment makes our business unique. It is not the usual recycling system seen around. Our products are unique and exceptional. We knew tyres could be recycled but we did not want the usual recycling method. Through research, we were able to get these ideas.”
For between N10, 000 and N15, 000, one could purchase a chair made of a 14- or 15-inch tyre sourced by Olaide and her team for around N300. The process involves picking, washing, disinfecting, stapling, gluing, screwing and dressing, among others – it means a lot of work.
It takes from a whole day to up to a month for a product to be made, depending on its complexity. It is therefore understandable that the CEO of JD Recycling gets anxious whenever potential clients have a reluctant and hesitant view of her products.
“We saw the damage that waste was causing to individuals, communities, towns, cities, companies and the nation at large and we decided to do something”
Olaide said, “Turning vehicles’ used tyres to household beauty is a concept that is very new in Nigeria. Some people find it fascinating while others cannot just imagine having used tyres as furniture in their homes or offices. People’s mindsets were a major challenge in accepting our products. But we are gradually getting over that and gradually getting there.”
The graduate of Accounting from Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, devised a means to confront people’s attitude by being innovative.
BREAKTHROUGH MOMENT: She said, “We created different products like wall clocks, wall hangers, tables, chairs, garden planters and playground items to expand our sales options and to suit different individual or corporate needs. What this means is that we are able to produce different items such that no matter who you are or what you do, you will need one of our products.”
She also has to constantly “convince them with quality” because, in her words, quality is at the heart of making products like hers.
Although JD Recycling currently averages a modest 10 customers per month, Olaide believes that once awareness about waste management and recycling is intensified, sales will increase.
She said, “We are making different efforts such as partnering with furniture and interior decoration companies regularly going for exhibitions, connecting with people through adverts and we are registering and partnering with Lagos State regarding what we do. We are also approaching schools, both public and private, to train their students and we are making our presence known online.”
SETBACK: Inadequate capital has so far prevented Olaide from venturing into other forms of recycling.
Asked if she has sought financial support, she said: “Everything we started was with our savings, though we wouldn’t mind getting help from the bank due to the expansion of the business being planned. For instance, we intend to expand our business to recycling pure water sachet but, for now, because of funds to buy machines, we only pick pure water sachets and sell to companies that process them. The truth is that we were very reluctant to approach any bank for obvious reasons.”
CURRENT STATUS: She lamented about extremely high and unrealistic interest rates, unnecessary delays, cumbersome paper works, uncertainty about securing financial support at the end of the day and the fact that no Nigerian bank would lend start-ups money without collaterals. It is however a means she would like to explore.
For now, though, Olaide’s immediate concern is how to put her jigsaw, drilling machine, staple machine, gum gun, rope, glass cutter and hammer to work to make a masterpiece out of yet another environmentally unfriendly discarded tyre!