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Meet Achenyo Idachaba, the Nigerian eco-preneur making woven wonders from aquatic weeds

Meet Achenyo Idachaba, the Nigerian eco-preneur making woven wonders from aquatic weeds

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Aquatic weeds such as the water hyacinth, pose a major challenge to aquatic health. They deplete nutritional resources in their surroundings, leading to a drop in the fish population, which can impact food supplies and the livelihood of riverine communities, who are reliant on fishing. Their extensive, knotted root systems also clog waterways, and in turn,  impede water transportation.

In a bid to battle this environmental glitch, Achenyo Idachaba founded MitiMeth – a Nigerian startup that designs beautifully handcrafted home decor and fashion accessories from processed aquatic weeds prevalent on Nigerian waterways.

Coined from the words Miti(gating) and Meth(ane) – a potent greenhouse gas emitted from the water hyacinth – Idachaba founded MitiMeth in 2011 to use the weed as an input in the production of beautiful handicrafts like multipurpose baskets, lamps, vases, Afrocentric handbags and earrings. Each hand-crafted piece is created from the weeds which are harvested from the waterways and dried out in the sun before they are woven into highly intricate and beautiful finished products.

Road to Entrepreneurship

Born in the United States of America to Nigerian parents in 1968, Achenyo Idachaba spent her formative years between Nigeria and America, where she forged a successful career as a computer scientist and business analyst.

However, in 2009, she resolved to leave a successful career in the United States’ oil industry and headed for Nigeria where she began environmental consultancy. Two years later, she founded MitiMeth.

The birth of MitiMeth came after she found the idea through research some research she did, which showed that communities in Southeast Asia afflicted by the water hyacinth had harvested the weed and transformed it into woven and marketable wonders.

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Subsequently, she collaborated with local craftsmen in Ibadan, Oyo state and acquired the skill to develop the company’s first products – a table tidy and a wastebasket. In 2013, she won a grant from the Federal Government through its YouWin (Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria) program and went on to expand the business by recruiting more hands.

With support from the government and corporate bodies, the MitiMeth team trains and educates local communities – especially those in Nigeria’s riverine areas, on how to harvest and process the water weed into beautiful woven products.

These worthy achievements of Achenyo Idachaba and her Mitimeth team, especially for the environment has attracted global attention and commendation. Her inspiring entrepreneurial story has been featured on CNN African Startup and TED Talk among others. She is also a recipient of 2014’s Cartier Women’s Initiative Award for sub-Saharan Africa.

 

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