A year ago, we introduced you to Coliba: an Ivorian startup that collects plastic waste in Abidjan and Accra through a mobile app. A year later, what happened to them? Founder Yaya Koné shares his company’s progress in a short interview.
I am Yaya KONE, holder of an MBA in Operational Management and Sustainable Development at ISC PARIS. I am Co-founder of the startup COLIBA.
My first motivation is undoubtedly my awareness of plastic waste management: more than ever, it is a major issue for large African cities like Abidjan.
Each year, the district of Abidjan produces 190,000 tons of plastic waste and only 10% of this waste is recycled. The remaining 90% end up on the streets, gutters, burned or buried. The second motivation is the desire to have a significant impact on people’s lives.
I am leading this project with my partner, Genesis EHIMEGBE, who graduated from a Master’s degree in International Business Engineering at Telecom École de Management in Paris. We also have two developers on our team: Fawaz ADIZA, graduated from a master’s degree in Computer Science at the Felix Houphouët Boigny University of Côte d’Ivoire and Lamine AZINAKOU, Designer and Cross-platform developer. We are all based in Abidjan.
Our activity is limited to the collection of plastic waste in Abidjan. We have a collection capacity of 1 ton/day with partner companies alone. We work with 50 collectors, 80% of whom are women. We have a collection center where bottles are shredded and sorted. We are waiting for our first aggregate machines to be sold to local operators.
With a simple touch, a person using the COLIBA mobile application is geo-located in real time and then connected to a tricycle or a nearby COLIBA relay center. In less than thirty minutes, a team comes to recover the plastic waste. In return, COLIBA rewards households with redeemable points according to the volume and quality of recyclable materials they supply.
We have already tested our solution in two municipalities in Abidjan. Our goal is to cover the other 8 municipalities of the city by the end of 2017. Also, we are deploying a new offer for companies: to raise awareness among staff in a fun way on ecological topics.
Our office in Ghana will develop a partnership with a multinational nutrition company in the coming months to increase our collection rate. Discussions are ongoing and it is hoped that agreement will be reached soon.
The first challenge is to preserve the environment and improve public health. According to World Bank studies, one African dies every 30 seconds from pollution. Thus, by improving public health, our project will contribute to reducing state spending on health.
The second problem is job creation. In Côte d’Ivoire, the recycling sector employs 10,000 people. COLIBA could generate 1200 jobs by 2021.
We started awareness campaigns in schools and colleges in Abidjan. The goal is to get our message on environmental conservation across to as many young people as possible. In two months, we went through 18 institutions and reached more than 15,000 children.
For customers, we have signed an exclusive contract with an international hotel group for the collection of their plastic waste.
Moreover, women are at the heart of our system. They represent 80 percent of our collection agents. We plan to give them access to professional training to increase their skills and efficiency.
Our strategic goal in five years is to be able to process 30,000 tons of plastics in six other countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon, Togo, Benin. We want to set up 18 sorting centers and a high-tech factory.
For the effective implementation of this project, we need to make big investments. To date, we have invested more than 20 million CFA francs in own funds to carry out the most urgent tasks such as the development of the web and mobile application, the rental of a storage center… Currently, we are in contact with investors because this is not a project that we can self-finance. I would like to take this opportunity to tell all those who are interested in this project to contact us without hesitation.
Re-discover Coliba: COLIBA: plastic waste collection and environmental protection