Funto Boroffice is the founder/CEO of Chanja Datti Ltd, a waste collection & recycling social enterprise dedicated not only to transforming the waste in her environment to value, but also empowering unemployed women and youth by creating jobs for them along the waste management value chain. Chanja Datti was established in May 2015, and in its almost 2 years of existence, Chanja Datti has been able to hire on a Part time basis 20+ women and train over 70 women on ways to generate wealth from waste collection. They have also been able to divert 50+ tonnes of recyclable waste from landfills to off-takers and manufacturers. They are also working with FETS, a Nigerian mobile banking company to provide financial services for our unbanked informal recycling collectors especially the women. Under her leadership, Chanja Datti was recently awarded the 2016 Energy Globe Award for Nigeria. The Energy Globe Award was founded in 1999 by the Austrian energy pioneer Wolfgang Neumann and is one of today’s most prestigious environmental awards.
Until May 2015, Funto spent 3 years as a Senior Aide to Nigeria’s Honorable Minister of Power covering Investments, Finance & Donor Relations, and before that, 17 years gaining global financial, strategy and project improvement experience – 12 of which was as a GE executive in the U.S, where she was a Vice President, working in the largest GE Capital Americas business.
Funto graduated with a Masters’ degree in Financial Management from Pace University’s Lubin School of Business in New York, and has a Bachelors’ degree in Accounting and Finance from Northeastern University in Boston where she graduated cum laude (with honors). She is a certified member of WEConnect International, a corporate led non-profit that helps to empower women business owners to succeed in global markets, an Associate member of WIMBIZ, a Nigerian NGO, a member of Waste Management Society of Nigeria (WAMASON) FCT chapter and lead coordinator of the Green Coalition Initiative, an eco-connect think-tank based in Abuja.
We are excited to have her here to share her thoughts on the future of wealth from waste amongst other things…
Please introduce yourself – The way you want the world to know you
My name is Funto Boroffice, a female social entrepreneur and founder of Chanja Datti. I love God, family, country and environment all in that order. I am cognizant of all privileges bestowed upon me, and giving back has become my life’s mission and passion.
Why did you move back to Nigeria from the United States?
Two major factors contributed to my decision to move back to Nigeria after spending 18 years in the US. The first reason was because I was at the point in my career, where I knew that I cared more about leaving a legacy than earning a six-figure salary in Corporate America. On all my visits back to Nigeria, I was always struck by the amount of problems people shared. The level of poverty and disenfranchisement that I saw on each trip home was concerning, and it wasn’t enough for me to be an armchair critic all the way in the US, about why things were not working in Nigeria, without actually being an active part of the solution. With all the education and knowledge I had received in the US, it became imperative that I come back and gave back in my own small way. Secondly, I wanted to come back home to be closer to my family. My relationship with my family and friends had changed over time and I wanted to come back to Nigeria to reconnect with home again. No matter how successful you become, it’s not as fulfilling if it isn’t shared with family and friends.
In clear steps, how would you want the federal government to approach the recycling business in Nigeria?
Enforcing policies already established would be the easiest approach to promoting recycling in Nigeria. Policies such as the Extended Producer Responsibility Act are already established, we just need the Government to enforce the implementation. Providing access to financing and promoting indigenous technology focused on recycling are also ways that the Government can promote recycling in Nigeria.
How have Nigerians living in Abuja embraced the Recycle movement in Abuja and what do you hope to see change in the next
Unfortunately, we’ve gotten the most traction from – the expat community – as they recycle in their home countries and understand the concept of doing same here in Nigeria and Nigerians who have lived outside the country. It’s been a steep sensitization curve to get Nigerians in Abuja to start thinking about recycling, and we still have a long way to go. It’s the reason we launched our Recycredits™ program where we sign up individuals and households as members to participate in our recycling initiative. We reward these members with points for taking daily ‘green’ action to recycle the waste they generate in their homes. They can then redeem these points for cash, exclusive products, deals, discounts and vouchers. We are building partnerships with local and national businesses where our “Recycredits™” members can start getting rewarded for building a sustainable, waste-free future and making a difference. We are also building our relationship with Primary and Secondary schools in Abuja, so that we can get the recycling message to a younger demography. We would hope to see more Nigerians take an interest in recycling and really start living the lifestyle.
How far do you think recycling can go to achieve sustainable development in Nigeria?
I think it goes a long way. With the increase in population, urbanization and industrialization, the challenge of solid waste management in Nigeria has increased and is even more complex than ever before. Recycling does not only serve as a partial solution to the solid waste problem in Nigeria, but contributes to the conservation of virgin products and energy. This contributes to sustainability, because we depend less on our limited natural resources and use materials that would normally be condemned to idleness if not recycled. It also has the multiplier effect of creating jobs and promoting cleaner cities.
What would be your advice to young people looking to take on recycling initiatives in Nigeria?
I would say they should go for it. It will always be a labour of love, as 90% of what they will end up doing is sensitization and advocacy, and there is no immediate money to be made. If they are not in it for the right reasons, meaning a true love for the environment and for pushing the change agenda, then they’ll likely become frustrated, burn out and not be able to stay the long haul.
Who are your sustainability mentors?
Too many to mention. I’ve learnt and continue to learn from everyone in the space.
What are your favourite SDGS and what are some of your personal beliefs on how we can achieve them?
I think all the SDGs are important, but the seven SDGs most germane to what we are passionate about at Chanja Datti and that we have built our campaigns around are:
SDG#1 No Poverty – For us at Chanja Datti, it means using our waste value chain as a means to empower our local women and educate our young girls.
SDG#5 Gender Equality – We are truly passionate about Economic Empowerment for woman and we have carried out entrepreneurial trainings for Women at IDP camps and provided income for the women who are part of our value chain.
SDG#6 Clean Water and Sanitation – Sanitation for us is more than safe toilets, it is also teaching communities during our clean-ups about the ills of open defecations and dump site method of waste management.
SDG#8 Good jobs & Economic Growth – This ties back to SDG#1. We are using our processes as a platform to create jobs and economic empowerment for the women and unemployed youth in our city.
SDG#12 Responsible Consumption and Production – Nigeria’s population is supposed to reach 450 Million people by 2050. There is a critical need to promote sustainable lifestyles so that everyone can enjoy a good quality of life. Our current consumption practices in Nigeria and around the world are not sustainable. We need to do more.
SDG#13 Climate Action – For us at Chanja Datti, it means using our platform to create awareness and sensitize people about the relationship between the waste they generate and impact on Climate Change.
SDG#17 Partnership for the Goals – No one is an island, and partnerships with organizations all working towards the achievement of the SDGs is going to be critical. We all have a role to play.
What do you think makes you special and unique?
Interesting question. I think my confidence, passion and tenacity makes me ‘uniquely’ unique. I can’t discount my Faith in God, and the support of the best family in the world, especially my Parents, who allowed me to be the best version of me, and provided all the support needed to be the confident woman I am today.
How can people reach you or learn about your work?
I can be reached at @funtob, for those interested in seeing what interests me. Anyone interested in what we are doing can read up about us and signup to volunteer via our website www.chanjadatti.com. They can also follow us on twitter @chanjadattiltd and facebook at www.facebook.com/chanjadattirecycling.