Solution overview

Our Solution

OkwuEco:empower recycling efforts to perform better anywhere

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Tagline

An AI-powered zero-waste platform and market place solution to empower and expand waste disposal initiatives, and lowers recycling barriers

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Pitch us on your solution

Waste generation has continued to increase, due to population growth, lifestyle choices, consumption, and technological advancement. Most developing countries lack the resources needed to process and effectively manage the growing amount of solid waste which less than 20-30% is collected, much less recycled. Waste management initiative and recycling culture suffer due to poor public awareness, knowledge of what can be recycled, tools for effective user engagement, inefficiencies in the supply chain, pricing, payment options, language barriers, and scalable technology.

Our zero-waste platform creates sustainable livelihoods for stakeholders, our tools make accessible, localizes solid waste information and improves user engagement towards developing a culture of recycling, our market-place solution uses machine learning, and AI to empowers, expands waste disposal initiatives and lowers recycling barriers by connecting every stakeholder to work together towards a circular economy, while automating the supply chain process with multilingual communication support from waste collection, payment to pick-ups.

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What is the problem you are solving?

Most developing countries are plagued with a poor culture of recycling, most waste disposal initiatives are not effective despite a host of policies, regulations, and inadequate budgetary provisions. This is due inadequate implementation of a robust, safe and sustainable integrated waste management solution that

  • provides a user-friendly knowledge-base system that will fill local knowledge gaps of what can be recycled and effectively engage individuals, communities and business organization towards developing a culture of recycling and increasing recycling activities.
  • that provides a sustainable livelihood for the rural and urban poor or consistent income opportunities and addresses the challenges at the base of the supply chain where recycled materials are collected and sold, these include access to fair market prices, language and location barriers, flexible payment options and other forms of motivation (incentives, compensation or reward)
  • Provides brands and waste disposal initiatives a  complete supply chain transparency and accountability that guarantees efficient sourcing and consistent supplies of recyclable waste materials.

   And would be an engine for economic growth, addressing social and environmental issues while transitioning the industry towards a circular economy.

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Who are you serving?

Transitioning to a circular economy with sustainable waste management solution will require stakeholders (Households, communities, business organization, waste collectors, waste disposal or recycling companies, green products companies, Brands, NGOs and Government) to become part of a recognized system, that follows health and environmental guidelines while providing sustainable livelihood,  stable incomes opportunities and other shared-value chain benefits.

We target

  • Household, communities and business organizations, helping them figure out what can and can't be recycled, provide guidelines, green alternatives, recycling programs, collection centers and connects them to stakeholders involved in buying recyclables and disposing of waste, we manage payments or rewards collection irrespective of location and language barriers.
  • Waste collectors, Brands, Recycling and waste disposal service, to empower, expand their waste disposal initiatives and lowers recycling barriers. by promoting their recycling programs, collection centers, types of materials collected or services offered, pricing, payment option, pickups schedules, etc making them more efficient with a guaranteed supply of raw materials.
  • Government and NGOs at local levels to identify waste and recycling issues that need fixing with actionable insights, by engaging communities with customized educational materials, and campaigns that will fill local knowledge gaps and promote recycling activities
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What is your solution?

Africa has the opportunity to unlock at least $8 billion every year in resource value into the economy by changing the way we think about waste recycling, reuse, and recovery and increase the recycling rates beyond the currently recycle of only 4 percent.

Our solution helps to create sustainable livelihoods for the urban and rural waste dealers by providing access to fair and consistent income opportunities, we help brands, waste collectors, recycling companies and waste disposal initiative access to source and get consistent supplies of recycling materials, thereby creating new market opportunities and lowering recycling barriers, while transitioning the industry towards a circular economy.

we solve this by developing a zero-waste e-commerce web and mobile platform, Our marketplace solution has automated intuitive digital tools that help create transparency and accountability from the base of the supply chain to the store shelf, we support multiple languages for making solid waste information available, communication, support, two-way reviews, ratings and to promote effective user engagement and offer flexible payment options to provide an effective but inclusive financial service. Our solution help stakeholders build partnership, network and manage every aspect of the supply chain which includes information about recycling programs, location of collection centers, materials collected, pricing, payment options, the minimum weight required and sorting guidelines, waste material request, cataloging, schedule pickups or drop-offs. Our solution also provides a content management system with a search tool that captures recycling market trends, legislature, reforms, green alternatives, customized educational materials, and campaigns that will fill local knowledge gaps and promote recycling activities 

Our solution uses machine learning and algorithms for automation and helps stakeholders identify using a mobile device camera, what can and can't be recycled, provide market rates or incentives, identify waste collectors, recycling programs, locate collection centers, environmental impact and alternative green products, and on user request scheduled and notify relevant parties for pickups, drop-offs, disposal request and cleanup activities. While providing recommendations based on two-way reviews and ratings on the platform. Future technology integration includes the use of Natural processing language (NPL) alongside multi-language support to improve communication and support. The use of AR/VR to develop customized educational materials and campaigns for effective user engagement in partnership with stakeholders, the use of blockchain technology to help improve financial inclusion for the unbanked. This will drive recycling efforts and make them perform better irrespective of location

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Select only the most relevant.

  • Increase production of renewable and recyclable raw materials for products and packaging
  • Enable recovery and recycling of complex products
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Where is your solution team headquartered?

Jos, Plateau, Nigeria
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Our solution's stage of development:

Prototype

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More about your solution

Select one of the below:

New application of an existing technology

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Describe what makes your solution innovative.

Our solution brings innovation and simplifies recycling and waste disposal process by using machine learning, Bigdata, and algorithm

  • to identify what can and can't be recycled and smoothen the process of cataloging waste, waste prices or point value and weight, schedule drop-offs or pickup request, recommend nearby collection centers and waste disposal services.
  • Improve multilingual communication, build trust relationship and partnership among waste generators, waste collectors, green product companies and recycling or waste disposal companies using our reviews and rating system.
  • Its also used to identify trash and illegal dumpsite and notifying relevant parties like government cleanings services or other waste disposal agencies subscribed on the platform
  • To provide and standardize recyclable materials prices and point values across different locations
  • Provide data analysis for brands, Government, NGO, researchers to identify, recycling waste disposal initiatives impacts, waste and recycling issues that need fixing with actionable insights.
  • Our virtual reality and augmentation reality addon can serve as an education or awareness tool to create targeted local content for engagement.
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Describe the core technology that your solution utilizes.

Our solution integrates e-commerce to a waste management system, using machine learning to as users capture waste they want to sell, dispose or flagged illegal dumpsites thereby improving the identification of waste that can be recycled and what cannot and give disposal recommendation, and green products alternative. With big data, our solution is able to determine and suggest competitive price rates or point value for each recyclable item to be cataloged in the system with possible conversion to local currency rates, thereby standardizing recycling material rates for waste generators, collectors, recycling and waste disposal companies.

Brands, government, and recycling companies can take advantage of our business model and payment multiple payment options to create flexible payment or incentives in term of cash, redeemable points or other derivatives like giveaway products  from our green store

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Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Machine Learning
  • Big Data
  • Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality
  • Internet of Things
  • Social Networks
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Why do you expect your solution to address the problem?

We expect our solution to address the following problems

  • Job creation and opportunities for waste collectors ( including scavengers), new/existing waste management, and disposal companies, by making it easy for them to locate, collect and pay for waste from different sources without a language, payment, and location barrier. those with delivery service can subscribe to make deliveries of this waste materials, which will improve supply to Recycling, waste management disposal and other 3rdparty companies making them more efficient and have a guaranteed supply of raw materials, thus Lowering recycling and waste disposal barriers.
  • Passive or active income for waste generators as the waste less and recycle more by simplifying and automating cataloging and payment processes.
  • Promote and develop a culture of recycling among people by creating customized educational materials for awareness, engagement, localizing solid waste information and giving out incentives (redeemable points) as motivation for participation
  • Empower and expand waste disposal and recycling initiative by providing the technology stack and user-friendly UIs for user engagement, reporting, notification, payment, etc allowing business organizations to focus on their business models.
  • Help and provide companies, government and NGO get better actionable insights and user engagement
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Select the key characteristics of the population your solution serves.

  • Women & Girls
  • Children and Adolescents
  • Rural Residents
  • Peri-Urban Residents
  • Very Poor/Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Middle-Income
  • Refugees/Internally Displaced Persons
  • Persons with Disabilities
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In which countries do you currently operate?

  • Nigeria
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In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • Cameroon
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • South Africa
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How many people are you currently serving with your solution? How many will you be serving in one year? How about in five years?

we are currently beta testing our MVP with a small group of less than 50 user’s (waste pickers and waste collectors and waste disposal service providers) and gaining feedbacks, and currently working on onboarding 7 waste management firms commission in Jos plateau, 250 waste management firms across Nigeria,50 brands in Nigeria, 25 recycling business, and 7 NGOs engaged in recycling initiatives to help them scale across the country.

Our target for the year is to expand into 5-10 states of Nigeria an increase that would help us reach 30% of middle and low-income workers of the rural and urban Nigerian population.

Our target for the next five years is to create sustainable livelihood, income opportunities for at least 20% of the African urban and rural middle or low-income earners, the number one platform for consistent sourcing and supply of recyclable materials for brands and manufacturers and the platform that empowers recycling efforts in Africa and Asia

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What are your goals within the next year and within the next five years?

We envision an Africa with a develop recycling culture, where waste is optimized as a means of reducing poverty. we will be leveraging the buying power of brands, manufacturers, waste disposal initiative and waste businesses to empower recycling efforts and scale our solution to communities around the world that lacks recycling infrastructure.

Our goal within the next year is to

  • Grow our user base by 500%, increase grassroots penetration to 30%, through marketing and public awareness.
  • Build strategic partnership with Government establishment, technological partners,  Brands, manufactures, recycling, waste management disposals companies and organizations with recycling initiatives.
  • Recruit additional staff to help onboard and integrate stakeholders and drive grass root penetration.

Our aim in the next five years is

1.    Expand to 7 countries across Africa that lacks effective waste
management infrastructure an engine for economic growth while addressing
social and environmental issues
2.    We want to be in every city and state in these Africa countries and on every device, empowering recycling efforts everywhere to perform better.
3.    Provide fair market access and income opportunities while lowering market entry and recycling barriers through our platform.
4.    Build partnerships with global brands, payment operators, in creating markets for the recyclable materials.
5.   To full product automation with the use of machine learning, algorithm
and AI to revolutionized recycling and waste management by building a
strong recycling culture across Africa

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What are the barriers that currently exist for you to accomplish your goals for the next year and for the next five years?

Next Year

  • Funding for a marketing initiative, recruitment, grass root penetration, product research and development, and product awareness
  • Consumer attitude to technology adoption and recycling.
  • Low internet penetration.
  • Multi-Language support and payment options for the unbanked
  • Partnership with recycling companies, Telecos’, government organization, and other stakeholders.
  • market barriers standardization of recyclable items prices or redeemable point value as most waste disposal and recycling initiatives have different rates.

Five Years time

  • Government Policies and legislation
  • Change in consumer behavior
  • Competitors Pricing (price war)
  • New entrants to recycling market space
  • Changes in partnership with recycling companies
  • Introduction of greener products, newer technology
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How are you planning to overcome these barriers?

We would recruit interns and part-time workers to keep the cost of recruiting low until we have more funding from investors and started gaining traction.

  • We would seek government and other available grants, early adopters and personal funding  to fund our marketing initiatives, product research and development, and product awareness
  • We will start with support major international languages in addition to the major local language of our current country of operation and increase gradually. We will develop localized custom content to engage our target audience
  • We will make our platform payment option flexible to accommodate the unbanked and banked and any kind of waste disposal and recycling initiatives.
  • We will employ technology that will help the user interact with our platform in low internet penetration areas by offering offline support and other channels
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About your team

Select an option below:

For-Profit

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How many people work on your solution team?

12 months part-time. Currently a solo fullstack developer, Competed UI design Mockups, About ~15KLOC Mobile App and ~30KLOC Server (Nodejs, Express, Redis, MongoDB, Python, Elastic Search, installer scripts, etc).

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For how many years have you been working on your solution?

18 Months

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Why are you and your team best-placed to deliver this solution?

Lead Developer and Founder:

Over 11+ years of experience in technology (software development, server administration) and customer service . MBA Business Administration, BSc Criminology and security studies. I have Excellent  leadership, Interpersonal and communication skills, a Team player, can perceive changes, manage it and help others adapt and Constantly learning

Recruiting COO/co-founder: 

Over 6 years Work experience in marketing, e-commerce, logistics operation, product management, Ideation, has co-founded some startups (kaadie, Ariyaya, Tours Royale), Bsc Computer science. an effective, innovative, open-minded, realist, dependable in enhancing the increase in productivity.

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With what organizations are you currently partnering, if any? How are you working with them?

We are currently in our Alpha-stage testing, we are currently negotiating with 14 waste management disposal companies, 5 waste collectors  and a couple of organization who are currently piloting waste disposal initiative, to implement their system and process on our platform, we currently building a waiting list for on-boarding and have 100 informal workers  signed up.

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Your business model & funding

What is your business model?

We operate a Software as a Service business model design that works with stakeholders to implement their system and process on our platform, thereby building an engine for economic growth while addressing social and environmental issues.

We lower recycling barriers by helping waste workers identify what can be recycled and connect them to stakeholders who we have negotiated the raw material costs, payment options, etc., this helps to solve inefficiencies associated with the current system which affects waste-pickers, dealers or aggregators and increases profitability, guarantees the availability of raw materials and reduces risk at each level.

Our solution is self-administered and managed through approved personnel. Who is responsible for engaging individuals, communities and business organizations, educating and on-boarding them onto our platform, we monitor the supply chain process to ensure that stakeholders are adhering to platform rules. Our mobile  platform helps waste-picker or dealers access markets by reducing the following:

  • irregularities in pricing by building long-term relationships with buyers with a guaranteed minimum required material and payment rate.
  • financial inclusion and Access to prompt payment at the point of exchange with flexible payment options.
  • The exploitation of waste workers through peer to peer reviews, ratings and audit system.
  • Attitude towards the culture of recycling and technology.

Stakeholders will.

  • Function efficiently with a guaranteed supply of raw materials.
  • Can expand recycling efforts without location, payment and language barriers.
  • Have efficient logistics with scheduled pick-up or drop-off.
  • Access to impact tool with measurable insight.
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What is your path to financial sustainability?

we are currently bootstrapping our project and will seek ways for additional funding by enrolling into a couple of business plan competitions, equity free funding, grants, and accelerator programs, as we approach revenue and growth stage we will be talking with potential technology partners, or angel investors to raise debt financing as capital needed for growth and scale which can serve as convertible notes.

In the longer term as our business grow and scale we are working towards being self-financed, we will be making money (revenue) by charging a percentage from transactions on the platform, from advertisement, product promotions and premium services offered on the platform while considering equity-based funding from VCs alongside the benefits the come with (network, branding, recruiting execs, etc.) that are valuable at this stage.

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Partnership potential

Why are you applying to Solve?

Our goal is to create sustainable livelihood and income opportunities through recycling by revolutionizing waste management and disposal, promoting the development of a recycling culture while empowering recycling efforts to perform better and be scalable to any location.

Establishing strategic partnerships and developing a network of strong supporters while receiving validation comments and feedbacks from the Solve community is crucial to achieving this goal, in refining our deployment and business model approach,  for growth, and scale in achieving sustainability as a business and expand our impact. Working with MIT Solve would tremendously advance our work, allowing us to connect with relevant organizations, brands, and investors

Mentoring and guidance from technology experts in MIT Solve network would greatly empower and support us in product Research, Development, and Automation. Our product roadmap features include the integration of smart-bins, drone technology and blockchain for financial inclusion as we continuously improve our platform leveraging Machine Learning, Bigdata, and Artificial intelligence while building additional features to serve the informal recycling economy.

Through MIT Solve we could increase our visibility and raise more awareness helping to develop the culture of recycling using technology within a broader audience and provide us with the much-needed product validation and market penetration.

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What types of connections and partnerships would be most catalytic for your solution?

  • Business model
  • Technology
  • Distribution
  • Funding and revenue model
  • Legal
  • Monitoring and evaluation
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With what organizations would you like to partner, and how would you like to partner with them?

we would like to partner or collaborate with

  • Global brands and manufacturers who are involved in recycling or transitioning to a circular economy, who have a presence or plans to have an established presence in our target countries, this will help in the buyback initiative, stabilize market pricing and create income opportunities for sustainable livelihood while guaranteeing stable supplies of recyclable materials.
  • Payment operators and Mobile Telcos will help us support multiple payment options, offline USSD operations and mobile payments that will guarantee financial inclusion for rural and urban banked and unbanked waste worker/dealer and facilitate prompt payment on exchange and help increase our market reach while leveraging on the increasing mobile penetration.
  • we would like to work with technology partners to support and scale up deployments, operations, and production capacity
  • Media and Marketing organization for Branding, digital marketing, and promotion, support  and sales expertise in distribution and consumer acquisition to  increase awareness and expand outreach across Africa
  • Investor partners focused on circular economy and sustainable solution for funding
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If you would like to apply for the AI Innovations Prize, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution. If you are not already using AI in your solution, explain why it is necessary for your solution to be successful and how you plan to incorporate it.

Our Market solution currently uses manual input from users to innovate the process of the supply chain, our target and product roadmap is to use Machine Learning and Algorithm to automate and create transparency and accountability from the base of the supply chain to the store shelf by helping users identify from mobile camera, what can and can't be recycled, and use Artificial intelligence to provide a recommendation to include (environmental impact estimation, market price or trash value, collection centers, waste initiative programs, solid waste information, help users catalog their trash and schedule drop off or pickups), we use NPL boost multilingual communication,blockchain for financial inclusion and the use of the Internet of things (IoT) impact measurement using drones and smart-bins

We will use the award to invest in Product research and development, acquire hardware, software licensing, server space and  engineering team in consultation and partnership with Solve Experts in technology and social innovation field, this will help us to expand our zero-waste platform solutions and add features and benefits to better serve the informal recycling economy, making it accessible to a wider potential cross-sector partners and users.

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If you would like to apply for the GM Prize on Circular Economy, describe how you and your team will utilize the prize to advance your solution.

Our solution seeks to help develop a culture of recycling in developing countries by using custom multilingual contents to provide solid waste information, improve user engagement, education, onboarding and further expose individuals, communities and business organization on trends, innovations, legislation on recycling, and  green product alternatives, this form of STEM education which would include the use of VR/AR technology to drive innovations towards circular economy

This award will be used in expanding our public awareness, recycling education and user engagement efforts and strategies that help drive penetration and provide insights to recycling, which would include the use of gamification and virtual/ augmentation reality content, by engaging and collaborating with Marketing, onboarding, user engagement and gamification experts who will help us consult and interface with brands, government to develop and distribute custom content that will help educate our target audience, growing demand and supply smartly, while providing measurable insights to solve recycling issues and position developing countries and industries towards transitioning to a circular economy

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Solution Team

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