Meet 5 Young Female Entrepreneurs Creating Global Solutions By Recycling and Upcycling.

We love to see women making impacts! Waste accumulation is a global problem and these young ladies are contributing their own quota and providing solutions to this problem. They have achieved this by coming up with innovations that transform waste into valuable products. The entrepreneurs are spread across the continent ranging from Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda to South Africa and their products range from beauty accessories to products that we use in our day-to-day businesses, such as packaging paper bags.

Yaye Souadou, co-founder and President of E-cover (Senegal)

Yaye Souadou is the co-founder and President of E-cover, an enterprise that recycles and repurposes tires into useful products such as shoe soles, tiles for playgrounds, courtyards, terraces, and even floor coverings for swimming pools to mention a few.

Yaye Souadou, a young Senegalese who is proficient in 5 different languages adores researching a wide range of topics and also doing gymnastics. In her explorations, She gained interest in environmentally friendly technology when she could not help but notice how her community was littered with tires and other plastics while growing up and she sure wanted change. So she coupled her knowledge on recycling with the desire to cause a change and founded an enterprise called E-cover.

E-cover is a startup which aims to revalorize waste through the recycling and repurposing of tires into more useful products. Shoe soles, tiles for playgrounds, courtyards, and terraces, and floor coverings for swimming pools etc, are made from the upcycled tires. In her city where these tires lay waste, littering the environment, Souadou is seen as a visioneer– changing the waste-disposal culture. There is a paradigm shift from commonly recycling tires for their metal content to the wholesome use of these old tires.

As the C.E.O, Soudaou presently employs 6 people. She is responsible for the marketing and the management of her business. Her impact goes beyond the employment opportunities she offers. Many businesses, sport centers, and individuals in several municipalities are benefitting from the eco-friendly products her venture offers. Her products are used in the development of urban roads, have reduced the carbon footprint of the communities, increased import substitution, and offers companies opportunities to fulfil their Corporate Social Responsibilities.

In the next five years, she hopes to diversify into other forms of plastic waste which can be repurposed into alternative uses like in 3-D printing and clothing.

Chinenye Okoro Onu, co-founder Mosaic Inspiration Project (Ghana)

Driven by her passion for art and the environment, Chineye Okoro Onu co-founded Mosaic Inspiration Project, a startup that transforms trash into art and trains other young Africans in the art of recycling. She launched the initiative while studying at Radford University College in Ghana with the aim of creating a platform through which she could teach fellow students and artists how to create great art pieces using trash such as plastic and polythene waste. The Mosaic Inspiration Project also proposes to empower young artists with entrepreneurial skills and training, who then generate a monthly income from the sale of art and exhibitions. Some of their signature artworks are paintings and mosaics of people who have brought positive change to the world.

Chineye has managed to build the venture over the years despite the negative stigma that comes with working with trash, safety concerns, and lack of capital. She became an Anzisha Fellow in 2012 and since then, Mosaic Inspiration Project has grown from a local to global startup. She also spends time with her three other co-founders, helping young Ghanaians Realise their potential to make a change in their communities as entrepreneurs through the Afri-One Youth Forum, a transformational platform that empowers, inspires, and connects the youth.


Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, co-founder of WeCyclers (Nigeria)

WeCyclers is a social enterprise that was started in 2012 by Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola and her co-founders by using low-cost cargo bicycles called WeCycles to provide convenient waste collection and recycling services to households across Lagos in Nigeria.

Born and brought up in Lagos, one of the most populated cities in the world, Bilikiss understood the challenge and threats posed by the lack of proper waste management. This inspired her to start the company to offer waste collection and recycling services.

Lagos has a population of 18 million residents, 60% of whom live in low-income settlements, and WeCyclers targets this group fueling social change and environmental conservation by allowing people in low-income communities to get value from their waste.

The software engineer quit her job at the IBM Corporation, a five-year career in the organisation, to focus on her venture.

The company motivates families to recycle plastic bottles, plastic sachets, and aluminum cans. Families are encouraged to put together the waste, which is then measured for its weight and collected on given days of the week. The families are then given ‘Wecyclers’ points for every kilogram of materials given. The points are redeemable for goods such as cell phone minutes, basic food items, and household goods. Families receive collection reminders and reward updates directly on their mobile phones, making the benefits of recycling immediate.

After collection, Wecyclers combine the materials which they sell to local recycling processors, bridging the gap between the recycling companies and communities that provide waste which is their raw material.


Mabel Suglo, co-founder of Eco-Shoes (Ghana)

Mabel Suglo is the co-founder of Eco-Shoes, a Ghanaian based social enterprise that reinvests in the environment and in society by upcycling waste and employing people with disabilities. Mabel was inspired to start the venture after she witnessed a disabled person being insulted for begging. This, coupled with the fact that her own grandmother suffered from severe leprosy, she decided to start Eco-Shoes in 2013 and employed artisans with disabilities to make marketable shoes from used tires and recycled cloth. The enterprise collects discarded car tire stockpiles and waste materials in Ghana which pose environmental and health hazard and turn them into fashionable and comfortable shoes. Through Eco-Shoes, Mabel empowers and transfers the skills of shoe-making to individuals living with disabilities to hand-make shoes from car tires, discarded fabric, and other sustainably-sourced materials.

By selling durable and versatile footwear made from upcycled tires and fabric waste, Mabel’s venture creates jobs that benefit people with disabilities and the communities in which they live while inspiring people to get creative about reusing materials, extending their life-cycle, and, at the same time, contributing to waste reduction.

Eco-Shoes has had steady growth over the years. In 2013, the year of its inception, they produced 500 pairs of shoes. The demand then increased threefold, and in 2014, they produced 1500 pairs of shoes. The company has also added a line of handbags and they anticipate to produce between 1000-1500 handbags per year in addition to the shoe line.

Lorna Rutto,  founder of EcoPost (Kenya)

Lorna Rutto is a young Kenyan ‘Ecopreneur’ and founder of EcoPost, a social enterprise that gives an alternative waste management solution to one of Kenya’s huge waste problems – plastics.

EcoPost collects plastic wastes and manufactures commercially viable, highly durable, and, importantly, environmentally friendly fencing posts used widely across Kenya.  These posts are used in houses and forest reserves to fence the properties, and they are getting increasingly popular. Every month, EcoPost uses approximately 20 tonnes of plastic waste, utilising dirty plastic to make a product that saves trees.

Lorna, who holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree in Accounting, quit her job with a bank in 2009 to pursue a career in waste management. EcoPost sources its raw material from garbage cans and dump sites in Nairobi. Her venture has not only provided Kenya with a commercial and environmental alternative to timber but has also created over 300 jobs with over $150,000 annual revenue. The business has made over 10,000 posts which have helped save over 250 acres of forests, which would have been otherwise cut down for timber to be used in construction work around the country. This innovation has helped take over 1 million kilograms of plastic waste from the environment and this has won her various awards and accolades both at home and abroad.

We celebrate these leading ladies for the great impact they are making and preventing unimaginable devastating effects to the environment!

This article was culled from

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