By Prudence Minayo
Water hyacinth has increasingly become a menace around many parts of the world. It has affected both aquatic animals and fishermen.
When Achenyo Obaro saw that this was a big problem in the Lagos lagoon across the Atlantic ocean, she set out to solve this problem. She took up the task of transforming it into a business opportunity.
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Here is her story as told by WoK.
The social entrepreneur attended the International School of Ibadan then graduated with a BSC in Computer Science from Obafemi Awolowo University. She also has an MS in Applied Computer Science from Illinois State University and an MBA in Business Administration and Management from Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management.
She works as an associate lecturer at the University of Ibadan and is a member of Meaningful Business.
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She established a collaboration with local weavers and showed them how to transform water hyacinth into handwoven products. At the beginning, they made baskets and bags then expanded into coasters, chairs and other furniture.
The computer scientist founded MitiMeth to help market and grow the business. In a previous interview, she said that her goal was to make a difference in the sustainable development field and to have an impact on the grassroots by promoting local homegrown solutions to the challenges facing the environment.
The company started operations in the rural area of Kogi State before moving operations to Ibadan in Oyo State. Here, she worked with the locals to make storage baskets and table tidiers.
With her goal being empowering communities through giving youth and women skills, she has trained over 700 artisans.
The initiative has been received very well by many. Not only is it providing employment but it is also contributing a lot towards environmental conservation. One of the people that have really praised it include the Lagos Waterways Authority, which regulates activities on the Lagos Inland Waterways.
Mitimeth also partners with other organizations to organize workshop to train women and youth, showing them how they can create employment with water hyacinth.
“Most of the artisans trained are women and youth. This is because they are most receptive to learning and utilizing the skills so we ended up focusing on them and in the process addressing both SDG 5 and SDG8 about 150+ maker communities are made of women,” she said in a past interview.
One of the major hurdles they have faced is the lack of funding. The other is low returns since the competition is very high.
The company hopes to establish a foothold in fashion through providing textile manufacturers with yarn made from water hyacinth.
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