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Unilever Nigeria strikes $2m plastic waste collection deal with Wecyclers

Unilever unveils new employee policies as economy bites

Unilever Nigeria and Bridges Outcomes Partnerships have agreed to a $2 million partnership to help social enterprise Wecyclers expand the plastic waste collection in Nigeria.

This partnership, set up through an innovative “Development Impact Bond” structured by French investment bank Societe Generale, will allow Wecyclers to create hundreds of jobs scaling up operations that take plastics waste out the environment and turn it into raw material for industry.

Unilever Nigeria and Wecyclers have been working together since 2014 as part of Unilever’s ‘waste to wealth’ campaign, which helps local organisations work out how to create value and jobs from the reduction, collection, recycling, and reusing of plastic waste.

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Under this partnership, seed funding from a Unilever, UK Government and EY joint project called TRANSFORM helped Wecyclers expand their successful franchise and collection model. However, as an entrepreneurial social enterprise, Wecyclers lacked access to the long-term funding needed to build on that progress and significantly scale up this model, a statement said.

The statement said this unique Development Impact Bond provides a solution to that challenge. It includes social, environmental, and financial targets, which will see Wecyclers collect more than 30,000 tonnes of plastic waste over the next five years, create over 700 jobs in recycling franchises across Nigeria, and improve the incomes of thousands of waste sorters.

“This funding is a major step forward for us in our work to ensure plastics waste stays out of the Nigerian environment,” said Carl Cruz, Unilever Nigeria Managing Director, adding “It shows there is wealth to be made from creating jobs by tackling plastics waste, it cleans up the Nigerian environment and it develops a more sustainable financing model for groups like Wecyclers.”

Wale Adebiyi, the managing director, of Wecyclers added “We started with one bicycle and a dream, and through hard work and entrepreneurship we have built a scalable model that, thanks to this Development Impact Bond, will create hundreds of jobs, and improve the income of thousands of sorters, who will earn 25percent more than they do today.”

All the partners involved hope this experience in Nigeria will inspire the further development and use of such Bonds globally to finance organisations tackling similar challenges.