Family and close friends see Femi Idowu-Adegoke as crazy because having got the rare opportunity to ‘escape’ to London after graduation, he voluntarily returned, after about a decade, due to his love for home.
The Co-founder/Executive Director of Ecoviridis Environmental Technology Limited, in this interview, speaks with NNAMDI ABANA about his business
What is the vision of Ecoviridis Environmental Technology Limited?
Ecoviridis Environmental Technology Limited was created out of the desire to have a local, strong and globally-recognised waste-to-resource company rendering specialised services within the environmental and waste management space of Nigeria.
You studied in Nigeria and United Kingdom, with the opportunity of being hired by big multinationals. Why did you settle for free enterprise?
I initially didn’t nurse the idea of becoming an entrepreneur until after my second master’s degree. In UK, I worked briefly with a waste and resource company. But I left the job after spending 12 years in the UK, to contribute my own quota to the development of my country of birth.
How did you prepare yourself for that step into the unknown, considering Nigeria’s not-too-enticing business climate?
My first degree was in Geography where Environmental Management was core. After my post-graduate degrees, I took several waste management and environmental professional courses and training, mostly with Chartered Institute of Waste Management, United Kingdom, which qualified me as a chartered waste and resource manager.
Would you say you have arrived?
Fulfilled? Being independent is the beginning of a journey, but I am enjoying all the challenges, opportunities and success.
What are the challenges?
When I returned to Nigeria to start my business, there were very few start-ups in the municipal solid waste recovery for recycling. It was challenging going to event places to collect recyclables (plastics, cans and glass bottles). People thought I was crazy to come back from the UK and start collecting waste from event centres.
Acceptance and perception were other major challenges. But with perseverance, focus, diligence and belief, we are here today.
Where is Ecoviridis Environmental Technology Limited going from here?
Our philosophy is based on achieving the most flexible, the best quality and the most sustainable way of transforming waste materials into useable resources and to generate employment. The aim is to maximise the amount of value recovered from waste through recycling, composting and energy recovery, and to prevent or reduce as far as possible the negative effect on the environment and human health of landfill/dumpsites.
Did you get support from government or any organisation?
At the beginning, it was personal equity and family support. But recently we got Bank of Industry (BoI) entrepreneurship scale-up loan.
How are you impacting the society with your career?
I am a volunteer mentor with Tony Elumelu Foundation,which gives me the opportunity to mentor several young entrepreneurs across Africa. There are several young mentees locally within the sustainable waste management sector.
What difference do you see between an employee and an entrepreneur?
The major difference I see is that entrepreneurship brings out the best in you to create, innovate, do extra and think outside the box. Don’t forget that I was once an employee before I became an employer.
I read the book Success is Never Ending and Failure is Never Final by Robert H. Scheller when I was a teenager. I also watched a documentary, The Men Who Built America, a few years ago about how entrepreneurs developed present-day America after the Civil War in the 1880s. The book prepared my mind ahead while the documentary consolidated my belief and drive.