Chioma Ukonu is an internationally acclaimed environmentalist and a shrewd business woman whose fame in her country is legendary. She boasts enormous international experience and is currently involved in a number of activities in areas such as environmental sustainability, women empowerment, youth employment, business leadership, circular economy, government and community engagement.
Miss Ukonu co-founded RecyclePoints, a Nigerian’s foremost waste recycling and social benefit outfit that encourages post-consumers to recycle by creating value from their everyday waste. Currently she is the chief operating officer of the recycling outfit. Miss Ukonu is admired for her business prowess which she gained following her training from various prestigious institutions around the world. They include the Said Business School, Oxford University in the United Kingdom; Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, USA; and Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) of the Pan Atlantic University Lagos in Nigeria.
RecyclePoints has created over 230 green jobs and recycles over 100,000kg of waste monthly. Under her leadership RecyclePoints has developed some innovations such as a point-based incentive model, a mobile app, Recycling Banks and IoT enabled recycling bins with which they collect from registered post-consumers, PET bottles, aluminum cans, old newspapers, corrugated brown cartons, pure water sachets, and paper. They in turn, reward the post-consumers with points which can be used to redeem cash and household items (as small as a pack of milk to as big as a flat screen TV).
To innovate the cash payment to waste pickers Miss Ukonu and her team work with selected banks to open low KYC bank accounts for them in the various locations. This enables them to receive their payment electronically, thus achieving financial inclusion for unbanked demography. The collected waste all comes to our community-based Collection and Sorting Hubs (CoSoHubs) where women within the community sort the collected waste before they are processed and sold as raw materials for the production of new items. Our innovative solutions foster; circular economy, community engagement, women empowerment, youth employment, and environmental sustainability.
Highly qualified professionals
Ukonu attributes the success of her business to a number of factors such as unique innovations, a passionate and dedicated team including putting the human factor at the centre of their values. The other reason that makes RecyclePoints special is the fact that it is being run by highly qualified team of professionals who are committed and passionate about environmental sustainability.
“Each member of the team brings unique and valuable expertise to the company,” says Ukonu. Her future and long term plans is to continue to work towards a world without waste and “to keep expanding our operational footprint, making waste recycling accessible to more communities. We hope to produce more items from the waste we collect, thus closing the loop on more items internally”.
Ukuno has been celebrated for her vision and work at RecyclePoints and has won a number of prestigious awards and accolades, these include:
- the LEAP Africa Social Innovator Award in 2017
- a finalist for the 2018 Pritzker Environmental Genius Award by the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA)
- she was appointed a Judge for the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Inclusive Innovative Change initiative in 2019
- She also let RecyclePoints Nigeria to win so many awards and accolades, among them, Coca-Cola Forum Climate Change Award 2020
- Chivas Venture Nigeria Award, and only Nigerian representative at the 2017 Chivas Global Awards for Social Enterprise that took place in Los Angeles, United States of America.
Building social impact
Not only she a successful social impact professional but Ukuno is also responsible for RecyclePoints’ partnership tie-ups that foster social impact with various international organisations. These include the Mastercard Foundation, The Schmidt Family Foundation, Coca-Cola Foundation, to name a few. Furthermore, she is also a volunteer at CleanUp Nigeria, Habitat for Humanity, Regina Foodbank, ClimateSmart Nigeria and Green Women Forum.