NIGERIA – OkwuEco, an online marketplace for waste management and recycling, has launched its platform to smooth solid waste disposal and encourage recycling, and is in the process of piloting its solution ahead of a full rollout. 

Based in Jos, OkwuEco helps users identify, sort, buy, sell, and dispose of solid waste from anywhere for cash or points, and automatically schedule pickups or drop-offs with waste merchants or disposal services. 

It uses image recognition to help users to identify and sort waste, and allows waste merchants or dealers access to available waste. The platform then uses GPS to assist with logistics, handles payments, and collects data for actionable insights. 

Incorporated in November of 2019, OkwuEco is currently piloting with 70 users, which includes waste merchants and dealers, all of whom signed up after hearing about the platform through word-of-mouth. 

According to Disrupt Africa, the co-founder Saviour Anyanwu said that the startup was competing against various local and international competitors, but felt it was filling several gaps and therefore had a competitive advantage. 

“We are open and user-friendly, with support for multiple language and payment options, ideal in targeting the unbanked and delivering value,” he said. 

“Our platform uses deep technology to help users identify and sort their waste and make a connection to waste collectors or waste disposal services. It is flexible and easy to deploy anywhere, without customisation, and provides convenience, performance, stable prices and lower cost of waste management and recycling.”  

Another benefit of using OkwuEco are its impact tools, which offer actionable insights for effective user engagement and decision-making. 

The bootstrapped startup has been applying for grants and other equity-free investment opportunities, but is for now focused on testing its MVP, which is available on Google Play. Anyanwu said it was in ongoing negotiations with various waste management associations and government bodies about scaling operations. 

“The uptake has been an interesting journey for us in learning, improving our business capacity and being exposed to real market issues,” he said. “We have been having various meetings with stakeholders while fine-tuning our technology and business model to embrace market dynamics and policy, and deliver quality service to our users as we plan our re-launch,” he said. 

OkwuEco makes money by charging a percentage fee on transactions made through its platform, while merchants are also charged a subscription fee.