In Niger, the entrepreneur and environmental activist Amina Issa Ado is creating employment by turning old tyres into attractive and comfortable pouffes.
“Niamey is suffocating under its own waste,” said the country’s very worried president, Mahamadou Issoufou, in July 2017. Several districts of Niger’s capital are suffering from chronically unhealthy conditions because of the lack of an effective solid waste collection and management system. One sort of waste that is causing a problem is rubber tyres. They are often burned in the open air at illegal rubbish dumps and they release toxic gases which are hazardous for the environment and public health.
Amina Issa Ado is very concerned about her compatriots’ worsening living conditions. This entrepreneur has been involved in protecting and safeguarding the environment from a very young age. She was a member of Young Volunteers for the Environment. However, it was when she was working in her restaurant that she had a light bulb moment and decided to turn her attention to recycling.
She had become aware of the sheer amount of waste thrown away every day. Working with her team, she started to sort and then upcycle some waste (oil canisters, small boxes, food tins etc) turning them into useful and decorative items. Following in the footsteps of local organic food service, Fortitude Agence, the start-up founded by Amina, added a new string to its bow: non-biodegradable solid waste recycling.
A new circular approach
The work done on the old tyres is the perfect illustration of what the start-up is all about. Nigerien craftspeople – particularly women – have been working with leather for centuries to make stunning cushions, among other products. This traditional craftsmanship took a new circular approach under the influence of Amina Issa Ado.
So how is a sustainable pouffe made? A tyre is salvaged, carefully cleaned, covered in foam and then decorated with an attractive traditional fabric. The end result is a stunning pouffe that is more comfortable and longer-lasting than traditional cushions.
Fortitude Agence trains young Nigerians to recycle, in addition to making pouffes. The aim is to enable them to meet their own needs and those of their families and, in the long term, to create a real industry in Niger.
Amina Issa Ado is in no doubt: waste is worth its weight in gold. Recycling not only gives waste a market value, but also contributes to her country’s economic development.
Credits : Veolia Library