As the European Week for Sustainable Development gets underway, with its focus on transcontinental innovations, some West African circular economy initiatives stand out. This is the case of the Nigerian company GIVO, whose founding president, Victor Boyle Komolafe, is a member of the 2021 class of Young Leaders, the flagship program of the French-African Foundation.
For impact entrepreneur Victor Boyle-Komolafe, it all started with an awareness of the extent of plastic pollution. No less than 15 billion polyethylene terephthalate (PET) items are consumed each year in Nigeria, of which less than 10% are recycled, the rest being disposed of in landfills or waterways. A huge waste and a major source of pollution that pushed this accountant by training to launch in May 2019 in Lagos the start-up Garbage In, Value Out (GIVO), a circular economy company offering recycling solutions. The principle? Educate, collect, and process plastic waste into products for sale in a fully automated and digitized process powered exclusively by renewable energy.
It all starts with the collection of materials from waste generators (individuals, families, small businesses), informed in real time of the volume of waste generated. Once collected, the plastic materials are measured, weighed, washed, resized and catalogued using GIVO IoT technology before being shredded. This transformation process allows for the creation of recycled products – protective masks, abacus games, Christmas decorations, vases, etc. – which will be sold to individuals, governments, businesses and industries.
At 31 years old, Victor Boyle-Komolafe can boast that he has already processed more than 4,000 kg of plastic waste, made more than 10,000 protective masks and helped create jobs in the recycling sector in Africa. A virtuous circle that includes the donation of 10% of the production to NGOs, the most vulnerable populations and essential workers in the country.
When the Covid-19 pandemic began and workers were facing a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), GIVO launched the production of the only sustainably manufactured mask on Nigerian soil. “Our team was able to mitigate the effects of the shortage by recycling plastic waste to produce masks and face shields in accordance with international standards. This has provided protection to essential workers, medical personnel and individuals in Nigeria, helping to smooth the contamination curve,” says the 30-year-old.
Africa Prize in November 2019, Orange Corners in December 2019, COVID Africa Rapid Entrepreneur Project in May 2020, eligibility in August 2020 for the 250 M naira seed fund allocated by the Nigerian government for research and innovation… Since its creation, the start-up has been accumulating awards. At least two of them come from France: the Digital Innovation Challenge 2020 award from the French Development Agency (AFD), which was instrumental in the success of GIVO, which also benefited from the second OceanHub Africa acceleration program last May. The company is among the 6 winners out of 130 applicants, all related to the oceans and underwater life, and aimed, among other things, to mitigate ocean pollution.
“France, an important trading partner for Africa, is the second largest exporter of goods to the continent. Since 2000, French foreign direct investment in Africa has increased tenfold and France is one of the main job creators in the continent,” said Victor Boyle-Komolafe. My team and I want to take advantage of the growing partnerships between French and African companies to increase the local production of goods in Africa from processed recyclable materials and the export of these products to France. This has the potential to increase economic revenue, create employment opportunities and facilitate trade agreements between the two countries.
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