WASTE TO WEALTH: An Adventure for Me - Living Environment

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Thursday, September 3, 2020

WASTE TO WEALTH: An Adventure for Me


Waste to Wealth gives opportunities for investors to invest in our country, where a lot of people do not know how to sort and recycle their waste. In an interview with Living Environment Magazine, Olufunto Boroffice, Founder/CEO Chanja Datti Recycling, spoke to Ada Achanya on what prompted the establishment of her waste recycling business.

 Q: Please tell us more about yourself as a female waste management entrepreneur
My name is Olufunto Boroffice, I am the founder and CEO of Chanja Datti Recycling and also the convener of an NGO called Initiative of Advanced of Waste Management for Africa (WASTE AFRICA). I schooled and worked in the United States of America for close to 20 years and moved back to Nigeria 7 years ago. Back home I worked as a Senior aide to the Minister of Power under the Goodluck Jonathan administration where I met foreign investors interested in the area of Waste to Energy. This drew my attention to waste management opportunities and prompted me to learn more because of the limited knowledge of waste sorting and recycling in Nigeria at the time.
 Q: What prompted this idea?
 After my time working with the Minister of Power, I saw an opportunity in transforming waste to wealth. I realized a lot of value could be gotten from waste when it is sorted and collected property, but we were not doing that in Nigeria. I went ahead to investigate the potential opportunities in our environment to know what products waste could be transformed into so that the whole concept of circular economy can be achieved. Also, I wanted to to use the platform to create wealth, jobs and economic empowerment for unemployed women/At risk youth and those at the bottom of the economic pyramid to enable them start businesses of their own.
 Q: How has it been since you started your waste management business?
 The journey so far has been interesting and we have been in it 5 years now. We started the ground work in the early part of 2015, we hit the ground running in May 2015. As an organization we always try to be consistent in everything we do, even when we hit roadblocks, we don't give up and turn back, rather we go through the roadblock because quitting is never an option. We started with a staff strength of four people, now we have full time and part time staff of over 200 at three locations - two in Abuja and one in Ondo state, and we are about to start the fourth one in Lagos,. We’ve also been able to divert over 3,500,000kg of recyclable waste from landfills and dumpsites to off-takers who will use them in their manufacturing process.
 Q: What are the challenges faced since inception?
 Infrastructure is a challenge, bad road network, electricity and so on. For example, we don't have a PET recycling company here in Abuja. We have to transport to Lagos from Abuja. When the roads are bad, this has a huge effect on our ability to transport the goods and make sure there are no delays.
In the area of electricity, at our Giri location, we spend N63,000 every day for diesel to enable us work as there's no electricity from the power grid. Access to finance is also a major challenge. It is difficult to get support to purchase more material's and equipment’s. Access to loans are high due to high interest rates and collaterals. I would like the Government to see the waste management sector like the agricultural sector, especially because we help the environment and help the Country meet her Nationally Determined Contribution goals as part of the Paris Agreement signed.
 Q: Tell us more about your collection system?
 Collection for us is interesting because we are working with a lot of waste pickers around town . We cover over 20 waste collection dumpsites around town. Through our network of pickers, we have waste delivered to our hub and we buy off them. Through this system, we collect a lot but we know that is not sustainable. We also collect directly from individuals, hotels such as the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Schools such as Startrite School, Malls such as Silverbird and Jabi Lake etc. We are hoping to continue to promote our Cash 4 Trash Recycling hubs, where individuals can sort and drop off their recyclables themselves and earn cash and incentives in the process.
 Q: What's your advice to fellow women who have capital but don't know what business to venture into?
 They should research and find out what they are passionate about. Concerning business, they should do a mini business plan for any business they want to venture into. As an entrepreneur, you need to plan properly in order to regain back the money invested. You need to learn from people who have gone ahead of you and it must not necessarily be in what you want to do but you can learn their strategy and apply it to your business. As a social entrepreneur, anything I do, I research and plan a way of giving back to society because that's the secret of success in life.
 Q: How would you describe yourself? 
 I will describe myself as someone who is hardworking, tenacious and determined to give the best of myself. Someone who cares deeply about people around me and wants to see everybody succeed. I feel I am here on this earth for a purpose. I want to make sure when my time on earth is done, I would have achieved everything I was put on this earth to do and leave nothing behind.

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