From Bariga to America: How Amidu’s Passion for Sustainability is Now Paying 7 figures and More….

ECOmoney is the new money in Nigeria. It spotlights people who are making money by keeping our earth greener and healthier. 

Amidu’s journey to making money from what most of us consider waste is not paved with gold. From growing up in the back town of Bariga, a subhub in Lagos, to being served breakfast by his girlfriend, who thought his unconventional business acumen was questionable, 10 years after starting his business, Amidu now has five sustainable businesses where he is not just making our earth a better place; he is making money and providing employment to more people.

1. Hi, Amidu, can we meet you?

    Hi, my name is Amidu Muhammed, and I am the founder of Plastic Build Creative Solutions Limited. I specialise in sustainability and waste management, and I’ve got professional certification from the Nigerian Climate Innovation Centre and also from the University of Oxford School of Climate Change. I am a graduate of Osuma Danfodio University, and I studied chemistry education.

    2. I see you are really big on the circular economy. How long have you been on this journey?

    Hmmm, to be very honest, my interest in the circular economy started when I was in junior secondary school.

    3. Really?

    My attention towards the circular economy began around 2012–2013; however, I got convinced about upcycling during a Pan-African Youth Leadership Programme I attended in America. At the programme, we were asked to identify the key problem we have in our country, and I was able to see that waste management was a key challenge for Nigeria. This approach was the beginning of my company, “Plastic Build.” I started Plastic Build during my university days, and 10 years later, I am glad to say my products are tackling waste management today.

    4. What made you start upcycling as a business?

    For me, upcycling is a friendly and simple method of waste management. Growing up in Bariga, Lagos, wasn’t an easy one; apart from the social conduct, the environmental pollution was at a high rate. I witnessed the waste crisis firsthand, and it has always been my goal to make sure my community has a better environmental space. I don’t know, but for some reason, people from my area resisted proper waste management; they would rather burn refuse instead. This action did not just pollute the environment but also caused some of us to be asthmatic, and I and my friends were victims of those actions.

    After some years, I relocated to the North for studies. I was able to see a different part of the world, where underprivileged children walk in the Sokoto desert barefoot. That was when I realised there is a connection here: some of the waste in Bariga is trash and can be used to make slippers for this unprivileged child in Sokoto. Just like that, I was able to start my footwear brand, Ecofeet Footwear.

    5. How are you able to manage several eco-friendly brands, and how are you able to measure the success of these brands?

    I manage different eco-friendly brands easily because they are all created to solve core environmental problems. With the grace of God, I have been able to manage five eco-friendly brands successfully: Ecofeet (fashion industry), Green Furniture & Eco Interiors (decoration industry), Eco Bricks (construction industry), and Eco Marts (tech). These brands all serve different sectors, and despite the differences, they all follow the same circular sustainability channel, which is to transform waste into products. One thing that has also helped my businesses is using the same business model to run them.

    We often measure our brand’s success through several recognitions we get from important entities or individuals. Our tangible impacts in my local area, like increased community waste collection, also let us know we are having success there.

    6. How are you able to generate materials for production?

    For me, sourcing for materials is easy since I work with waste in Lagos. All I do is go to my local street and tell all these boys in my area, “Oga, I need tyres!” and they come back with piles of them. If it is wood waste that I need, I will just visit the sawmills and get what I need. For the fabric waste, a chat with the tailors on my street yields loads of unused pieces, and just like that, I get my materials.

    7. When was the first time you earned your first million from these eco-brands?

    Wow, last August, I earned my first million from a project with the Lagos State Government. It really boosted my business!

    8. Can you describe your approach to achieving zero carbon emissions?

    Sustainability is a continuous journey for us. We collaborate with esteemed institutions like the University of Lagos and the Circular Economy Innovation Partnership for ongoing research and development. We assess our progress daily, striving to replace unsustainable practices with greener alternatives. Our goal is clear: to produce 100% zero-carbon products. We are confident about achieving it soon.

    In line with our commitment, we’re launching, an online marketplace dedicated to sustainable products. For brands to be qualified, they undergo thorough vetting to ensure minimal carbon emissions, promoting a greener market. These efforts demonstrate our dedication to a zero-carbon future.

    9. Does your company contribute to economic growth in Lagos, and how?

    All our brands are involved in Lagos’s economic development; this is evident through our product sales, which provide employment opportunities for youth and other individuals in our communities, such as shoemakers, tailors, carpenters, etc. Additionally, we fulfil our tax obligations through the LIRS (Lagos State Internal Revenue Services) system, further bolstering Lagos’s economic progress. Our commitment extends beyond commerce; we actively promote the cleanliness of Lagos, advocating for an environment conducive to sustainable growth.

    10. Are there any success stories you would like to share with us about any of the eco-friendly brands you run?

    I have a success story to share, and it is about our green furniture. Initially, we were sceptical about green furniture. Even my then-girlfriend had to end our relationship because of this business because she couldn’t see her partner doing a dirty job. But my passion for repurposing waste materials remained unwavering. Despite the doubts, Green Furniture gained widespread recognition, with investors in Lagos expressing their interest in our eco-friendly pieces, especially our furniture.

    During one of the networking events I went to, a highly esteemed individual saw my work, and he was so impressed with the delivery. After his admiration, he requested a supply, and not just that, we now have green furniture at several prestigious locations like the University of Lagos and the Rotary International Africa Regional Office in Ikeja.

    Reflecting on our journey, it’s amusing to recall being called “the tyre guy” after losing my girlfriend over my upcycling business choice, which has made me who I am today. Having to work with important individuals and companies and also getting recognition from important people has been the peak of my success story in this business.

    Looking forward, I envision elevating Green Furniture into a luxury brand similar to Vava Furniture. Additionally, I aim for Plastic Build, our parent company, to achieve high-value status and become the leading sustainability brand in Africa within five years. I see Plastic Build, Ecofeet, Green Furniture, and Ecomart becoming synonymous with sustainability on the continent. That’s the big goal.

    11. Can you share any upcoming projects or innovations aimed at advancing your sustainability agenda?

    Regarding upcoming projects, we’re currently focused on introducing new eco-friendly products beyond our existing flip-flops and slippers. We’re in the process of developing sandals, sneakers, and boots. This process is taking some time because sustainability is integral to the design process for this upcoming product. Additionally, progress is ongoing on, a digital marketplace dedicated to sustainable products. We’re in the developmental stages, and it promises to be an exceptional platform. The market has shown considerable interest in what Ecomart has to offer, which is very encouraging.

    Furthermore, we’re excited about the upcoming Plastic Build Waste Recycling OPS project. The proposal is prepared, and we’re open to partnerships or sponsorships from those who share our commitment to sustainability. If you’re interested in collaborating on or supporting any aspect of the project, please don’t hesitate to reach out via email, social media, or any other contact method. We welcome partnerships with businesses, NGOs, government entities, or any organisation where sustainability is a core value.

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