FOUNDER – Achenyo Idachaba
INSPIRATION TO START THE BUSINESS.
Born in the US, Achenyo, had a deep conviction to return to Nigeria and do some social good. She had spent more than half of her life in the U.S., but she had also spent part of my childhood and early adult years in Nigeria. Her parents strongly believed in the possibility of a better Nigeria if everyone put their hands to the plough and made positive contributions. Their belief inevitably rubbed off on her. Even though she had a good corporate career with globetrotting perks, she had a need to do something in Nigeria that would bring a positive light to people’s lives.
Once back in Nigeria, Achenyo put herself in the shoes of those negatively impacted by the invasive aquatic weeds and figured there had to be a win-win solution to this problem. It led her to do further research on what was happening in other parts of the world after which she decided on handicraft production. With that idea, she started to design business models that could potentially work in the Nigerian environment
BACKGROUND OF THE FOUNDER
Achenyo was a computer scientist/ business analyst in the US before she became an entrepreneur in Nigeria. She had a successful corporate career in the U.S. where she worked for Exxon Mobile for 11 years. Achenyo also wanted to work in Nigeria so she could have a rounded corporate experience and wanted to get transferred with the company to Nigeria.
A time frame had been set by Achenyo in terms of when she wanted the transfer to happen, and if it didn’t come through by that time, she decided she would take a leap of faith and start a new chapter in the area of sustainable development. This, in fact, is what happened. In all, it took about two years of serious thought, planning and execution. Achenyo always dreamed of starting a business in her parent’s native country of Nigeria. She relocated to Nigeria in 2009 and started off consulting in the area of Climate Change and worked on a few project teams. MitiMeth, her social enterprise, evolved from her consulting experience in Climate Change about one year later.
DESCRIPTION OF THE BUSINESS
Miti Meth produces both home and personal accessories from an aquatic weed which is the scourge of Nigerian waterways. Her products are sold in craft boutiques in Nigeria and online. Achenyo has been nominated to the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards for her sustainable and environmentally-aware business activities.
Achenyo faced major challenges, but since she expected them she did not become disillusioned. She just learned to use the challenges as stepping stones to reaching the desired goals. Access to a consistent source of energy was a key challenge. Before starting the business, she was fully aware that the electricity situation was deplorable so she decided that her new business would require minimal use of power.
She also found access to information to be another key challenge. She had to spend much time just trying to find basic information. Her solution was to get plugged into various professional networks and partner with institutions that had technical resources that could be of benefit to her work.
Besides finding a productive use for a hazardous waste product, Achenyo is creating much-needed jobs in her community. At MitiMeth, the company wants to ensure the communities they operate in are employable in the handicrafts sector. They achieve this objective by equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to get started.
Within a two month period post-training, trainees are equipped to weave a few products such as handbags, shoes, baskets. Their partners, community-based organizations, are responsible for ensuring that the trainees form a cooperative through which supply partnerships can be formed. The firm also offers the opportunity for trainees to come to the workshop location to shadow the firm’s artisans on-site.
POTENTIAL FOR SCALE-UP
MitiMeth is looking to start exporting soon and will sell products in other African countries such as South Africa. The firm is open to explore and develop partnership opportunities with retailers/distributors.