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Profiles

Meet Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, Nigeria’s queen of recycling and environmental sustainability

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Bilikiss Adebiyi Abiola

Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola is one very enterprising game changer whose name will go down in history as one of Nigeria’s greatest trailblazers. Just last week, news had it that her innovative waste management company, Wecyclers, had signed a partnership deal with Guinness Nigeria Plc, with the aim of addressing some pressing environmental concerns. Specifically speaking, this partnership will see Guinness work with Wecyclers to reduce, reuse, recover and recycle waste.

This important initiative is poised to have a direct positive impact on both the environment and the economy. Guinness could not have chosen a better partner as Wecyclers’ achievements concerning waste management in Nigeria have been impressive. But all these would not have been possible without the innovative thinking and astute leadership of Bilikiss, the Co-Founder and former CEO of the company. The young woman was also recently appointed the Managing Director of the Lagos State Parks and Gardens Agency (LASPARK) after half a decade of leading the innovation at Wecyclers.

For her immense contributions to the Nigerian economy, we have chosen to feature her as our CEO of the week. Read on to know more about her.

Early life in Nigeria

Bilikiss was born in 1983 into a relatively wealthy family in Lagos. She grew up mostly in Lagos where she completed her secondary school education at Supreme Education Foundation Secondary School. Afterward, she enrolled at the University of Lagos for a Law degree but opted out mid-way into her first year at the school to continue her education in the United States of America, where she lived for over a decade.

University education in the United States of America

In 2003, Bilikiss graduated with a BSc. in Computer Science from Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee. That same year, she enrolled for a master’s programme at Vanderbilt University also in Nashville, graduating in 2005 with an MSc. in Computer Science.

Five years after she acquired her first master’s’ degree, Bilikiss went back to school for an MBA. This time, she chose the Sloan School of Management at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology and completed the programme in 2012.

Corporate experience prior to co-founding Wecyclers

While at Vanderbilt for her MSc. Bilikiss worked as a Research Assistant, a job that involved the development and implementation of a Multi-Agent Architecture System utilised in TAG research software.”

Between December 2005 and June 2010, she worked as a Staff Software Engineer at IBM. This was her first full-time corporate job where she was fully involved in the design and implementation of key user interface components. She also worked with clients towards the resolution of deployment issues, managed internal product deployment serving thousands of users, as well as other critical roles.

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In May 2011, she became a Summer Consultant at CSMG Global, a strategic consulting firm changing the rules of the game in communications, technology, and digital media industries.”

Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola

Bilikiss Adebiyi Abiola was the former CEO of Wecyclers, and current MD of LASPARK

Return to Nigeria and the establishment of Wecyclers

Bilikiss moved back to Nigeria sometime between late 2011 and early 2012. In 2012, she co-founded Wecyclers Corporation, a profit-making social enterprise specialised in the promotion of environmental sustainability and economic development through the recycling of waste, particularly plastics. The idea for the business was born during Bilikiss’ stint as a student at MIT. At the time, she was studying waste as a course and could not stop thinking about Nigeria’s waste management crisis and what she could do to help.

She eventually did something about the waste situation by establishing Wecyclers. The company changed the status quo in the waste management ecosystem by offering incentives to low-income Lagos residents to recycle right at home, while supplying their recycled rubbish to Wecyclers for crushing and reuse.

Under Bilikiss’ leadership, Wecyclers grew. The company was able to generate its own revenue, while equally raising money through donor agencies. In 2015, Wecyclers won $55,000 from Case Foundation during the #PitchForLagos event at the Lagos Startup Week.

In 2016, the company got an offer from the serial investor, Eric Guichard, who promised to help grow Wecycler’s asset. According to him, “We will issue a 2 to 5 years diaspora bond against those assets that will be backed 50% by the US Government through USAID development credit authority.” Guichard made this statement after listening to Bilikiss talk about the challenges she and her team had faced in the course of doing business, during a BBC Radio programme hosted by Didi Akinyelure.

Also still under Bilikiss’ leadership, Wecyclers gained much recognition; awards received include, the Le Monde Smart-Cities 2017 Global Innovation Awards, the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards 2017, Seif Awards, Sustania Awards, etc.

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In September 2017, it was announced that Bilikiss would be stepping down as the CEO of Wecyclers, even as Olawale Adebiyi would take over as Chief Executive Officer. This change in management was to enable to take up a public appointment as the Managing Director of LASPARK. By this time, she had worked in that capacity for five years. She is expected to continue her environmental agenda here: keeping Lagos clean, healthy and beautiful for all.

NOTE: Every week, Nairametrics profiles CEOs, Founder, and Executives who are making a difference in Corporate Nigeria. We celebrate their contribution to the economy through wealth creation, job creation and enhancement of shareholder value.

Emmanuel is a professional writer and business journalist, with interests covering Banking & Finance, Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate Profiles, Brand Communication, Fintech, and MSMEs.He initially joined Nairametrics as an all-round Business Analyst, but later began focusing on and covering the financial services sector. He has also held various leadership roles, including Senior Editor, QAQC Lead, and Deputy Managing Editor.Emmanuel holds an M.Sc in International Relations from the University of Ibadan, graduating with Distinction. He also graduated with a Second Class Honours (Upper Division) from the Department of Philosophy & Logic, University of Ibadan.If you have a scoop for him, you may contact him via his email- [email protected] You may also contact him through various social media platforms, preferably LinkedIn and Twitter.

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    Billionaire Watch

    Meet King Maha of Thailand, the richest royal figure in the world

    The Thai king, Maha Vajiralongkorn is several times wealthier than his British counterpart.  

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    Meet King Maha of Thailand, the richest royal figure in the world

    When it comes to monarchies and royal families, the British Royal Family is easily the most revered of them all. One might begin to think they are the wealthiest. Well… they are not! 

    They are not even in the top five list of wealthiest royal families. 

    In today’s article, we will look at a monarch who is several times wealthier than his British counterpart.  

    READ: The UK Royal Family is worth $28bn, here’s how they make their money

    Meet King Maha Vajiralongkorn 

    The 63-year-old king of Thailand who took over his father’s throne is currently the wealthiest royal figure in the world. His late father King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed in 2016 and was the longest-serving monarch in the world. 

    After the coronation of the new King Maha Vajiralongkorn, a strange communique was published on the royal website. The entire portfolio of the Crown Property Bureau was to be transferred into the hands of the new king.  

    Before this announcement, The royal portfolio worth over 40 billion dollars was held by the king on behalf of the nation but now it was to be transferred to the new king. Subsequently, King Maha officially became the richest monarch in the world with a personal net worth and assets valued at $43bn according to the South China Morning Post.  

    READ: There are only 15 black billionaires in the world, here are the top 10

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    King Maha’s major assets  

    The bulk of King Maha’s net worth comes from three major assets:

    • A 23% stake in Siam Commercial Banks, one of the largest commercial banks in Thailand. The bank is valued at $1.7bn according to the Financial Times.  
    • A 33.6$ stake in Siam Cement Group which is the country’s largest industrial conglomerate.  
    • 16,000 acres of prime Thai land and over 40,000 rental leases with developers. 

    READ: Queen Elizabeth II Isn’t As Rich As You Think

    A call for change  in Thailand

    According to Financial Times, recent protests and critics have called for a serious review of the monarchy’s grip on the country and its finances. The protesters led mostly by students are of the opinion that public funds should not be made available for a king.  

    Thailand runs a system of government known as Constitutional Monarchy where the king is the Head of State.  

    King Maha’s lifestyle of luxury  

    King Maha spends most of his time in Germany and has a stunning fleet of 38 aeroplanes and helicopters. His second wife Queen Sineenat is a trained military pilot.  

    King Maha owns the largest faceted diamond, a 546.67-carat brown diamond.  

    READ: A Look back at Jay Z’s Road to Billionaire Status

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    What you should know  about the Thai economy

    Thailand is the eighth largest economy in Asia and the 22nd largest export economy in the world.  

    The GDP of Thailand is calculated as $505 billion, which results in a GDP per capita of $7,274.  

    King Maha is the richest royal figure in the world and he is closely followed by the Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah and the king of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.  

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    Profiles

    Ibiene Okeleke: A diva in HR and Management

    Ibiene Okeleke is an Executive Coach passionate about people development, career development and youth empowerment.

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    Ibiene Okeleke: A diva in HR and Management

    With about three decades of a rich and boisterous career across the financial and the energy sector, Ibiene Okeleke has earned bragging rights not just for her skills but her results and accomplishments across human resources and retail banking.

    Through the years of working in different firms, Okeleke has shown skills in business development, negotiation, succession planning, talent management, organisational development and job evaluation.

    READ: Nigeria’s Energy boardrooms: Why are the women outside? 

    Education

    Ibiene got admitted into the University of Lagos in 1989 and obtained her first degree in Industrial Relations & Personnel Management from the University of Lagos in 1993. Okeleke got a quick career start immediately, obtaining the rest of her degrees while working.

    She completed an MBA at the IESE Business School, University of Navarra, Spain in 2002, and also got an Advanced Human Resources Executive Degree from the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan.

    Okeleke has also completed a Strategic Human Resource Training course at Harvard Business School, and she is a certified Prince 2 Practitioner.

    She has a LinkedIn certification in Leadership Foundation: Leadership Styles and Models; Creating a Communications Strategy; and How to Create and Run a Brilliant Remote Workshop. She also has a Coursera certification in the Electric Industry Operations and Markets.

    READ: 7 female executives under 40 in FinTech

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    Career Progression

    Okeleke started out her career in 1994, at Inlaks Computers as HR Officer and spent 5 years in the position.  She joined FSB International Bank Nigeria as a Human Resources Officer and spent nine months in the role before heading the Liability Generation Unit of the bank until Feb 2001.

    She went on to lead the Human Resources department at Bond Bank Nigeria for the rest of 2001 and later, at Assurance Bank Nigeria Ltd between 2002 and 2006.

    Her foray into the energy and power sector started with a role as the Group Head of Human Resources at the Sahara Group in 2006. After the privatisation of the power sector in 2013, she moved to Ikeja Electric as the Chief Human Resources and Administrative Officer and positioned the company to become one of the most notable and leading distribution companies in Nigeria.

    In May 2019, she resumed at Energy Training Center (ETC) as the Managing Director. As the leader of this strategic learning academy, she has positioned the institution to provide a wide range of learning interventions for the entire Energy sector. The Academy is focused on capacity building through bespoke learning experiences with the perfect blend of technologies and techniques to achieve organizational and personal success.

    Ibiene Okeleke is also an Executive Coach passionate about people development, career development and youth empowerment, and serves as an adviser on some Not-For-Profit Boards.

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