ENTREPRENEUR OF THE WEEK- ACHENYO IDACHABA
Achenyo Idachaba is a computer scientist-turned-social entrepreneur. She is the Founder and Creative Director of MitiMeth, a Nigeria-based company that makes handicrafts from aquatic weeds and other agro-waste.
MitiMeth creates eco-friendly handicrafts like home décor and personal accessories from weeds prevalent on Nigeria’s waterways. The company also conducts training workshops for locals on river handicraft product development.
Aquatic weeds such as the water hyacinth, which MitiMeth uses, pose a major challenge to local communities and have been a target of government initiatives to stem the damage they cause for some years. Their extensive, knotted root systems tangle together – ‘the roots marry themselves!’ says Achenyo – and clog waterways, which are a key transportation network to inland populations.
They also deplete nutritional resources in their surroundings, leading to a drop in the fish population, which impacts food supplies and livelihoods for riparian communities, who are reliant on fishing.
PROFILE OF ACHENYO IDACHABA
- Achenyo Idachaba was born and raised in the United States of America and only visited Nigeria once in a while with her parents when she was younger.
- She has a B.Sc. in Computer Science and Economics from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife,
- She also M.S. in Applied Computer Science from Illinois State University
- She also obtained a M.B.A from Cornell University.
- She was a Computer Scientist in the USA but in 2009, she bid her corporate career in the United States goodbye and relocated to Nigeria to start a new chapter as a social entrepreneur.
- She founded Greennovative Chain, which provided research and advocacy services in climate change mitigation, and later founded MitiMeth, a for-profit social enterprise based in Ibadan, Nigeria, which she considers a tangible expression of her research advice.
- Prior to founding MitiMeth and Greennovative Chain Consulting, Achenyo spent 11 years with ExxonMobil in Fairfax, Virginia where she held a variety of regional and global positions.
- She has spoken at TED as well as Harvard University. She has been featured on Deutsche Welle TV, CNBC Africa, CNN’s African Start-Up, The Nation and BusinessDay Newspapers, Inc., BusinessLife Magazine and on BusinessAfrica TV. Her work has also been published in the Nigerian Field Journal.
- She is a 2013 YouWIN! Women Awardee, the 2014 Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards Laureate for Sub-Saharan Africa, and is a 2015 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme (TEEP) awardee.
- MitiMeth also received the 2013 Local Raw Materials Content Award from the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) for its innovative use of water hyacinth
- She has used her computer skills in a different context – developing an online presence for the company with its web store, the online marketplace Etsy, as well as on the social networks. To date, the majority of MitiMeth’s sales have been domestic but she also has her sight set on the international market.
- MitiMeth’s best-sellers are Home Accents, Kitchen and Dining ware, Fashion Accessories and Stationery. which can be purchased directly on MitiMeth’s site. ‘There are very few locally handmade products branded as eco-friendly, so MitiMeth has a first-mover advantage in building an indigenous, eco-friendly brand.