Bilikiss received more than just money when the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards selected her as a laureate in 2013. The name recognition she garnered from the Awards opened doors in the hyper-competitive startup environment of her home country Nigeria for Bilikiss and her recycling startup, Wecyclers. In the last three years, Bilikiss has been able to double her company’s staff, partner with major multinational companies like Unilever, Uber and DHL and plan an expansion from Nigeria into Madagascar.
“People really respect you if you have some kind of certificate, some kind of award,” Bilikiss said. “So being able to say I am the Cartier Women Initiative Awards’ laureate, that has set me apart from a lot of people,” Bilikiss said of being named a laureate, which included a cash prize of $20,000.
While some startups in Nigeria offer products or services to the country’s rising middle class or globetrotting elite, Bilikiss staked her future on trash. Wecyclers collects recyclable waste from neighborhoods in Lagos and rewards the households they collect from with points that can be exchanged for everything from housewares to generators.