With rapid urbanization across Africa, cities often struggle to keep pace with waste generation. In Lagos alone, only 20% of the estimated 13 million metric tons of annual waste gets properly collected. Dumping clogs vital infrastructure, causes floods and disease, and leads Nigeria to lose an estimated $2.5 billion in potential recycling value per year.
Scrapays tackles this crisis through an innovative model that enables individuals and small businesses to launch mini-waste enterprises. Their asset-light approach equips the enterprises with the relevant technology and materials, coordinates logistics and aggregation of waste, and sells the waste to processors and formal recyclers, thereby helping small-scale collectors and households augment their incomes and avoiding disasters caused by litter. In addition to tools to manage inventory, small enterprises also gain access to performance-based working capital loans.
Here’s a closer look at why we invested in Scrapays:
African mega-cities are predicted to grow at extreme rates in the coming decades: 13 of the 20 biggest urban areas will be in Africa by the end of this century. Megacities imply the need for dramatic growth of infrastructure and utility capability, much of which seems out of reach for African governments. The Washington Post reported: “Lagos will balloon to 30 million, then 50 million, maybe even 100 million people, and meanwhile the government will keep unveiling new visions for the city that never come to fruition. Many doubt even its simplest promises, such as the impending inauguration of a single subway line that was supposed to open a decade ago.”
Uncollected waste is a threat, particularly with growing climate change impacts. Waste that is improperly disposed of causes health and flooding hazards, contaminates water sources, and prevents vulnerable communities from accessing employment, health services, education, and more. During heat waves, waste causes infestations and can exacerbate overheating. During floods and in areas of sea level rise, such waste can block drainage, prevent emergency services from reaching vulnerable people, and prevent people from leaving flooded areas.
Scrapays enables the proper disposal of waste by creating and empowering a network of micro-enterprises that collect, sort, and store recyclables. Those activities keep waste off the streets, reducing risk of flooding, health events, and more.
In addition, formalizing waste flows creates new income streams for Nigeria’s informal waste workers—an overlooked workforce plagued by irregular pay and hazardous working conditions – as well as small businesses. So far, over 1,900 agents have signed up for the platform to launch and manage thriving recycling businesses. Agents earn income by buying recyclable waste from households and small businesses and selling it to formal recyclers and processors through Scrapays. Those with low skills and low access to capital can become agents because Scrapays equips them with a scale, an app, and working capital to make the business work and also handles transportation logistics and offtake agreements with major manufacturers.
Each ton of recycled material also represents meaningful climate and community impact. Scrapays’ 680 tons recovered avoids 2,800 metric tons in landfill carbon emissions alone—equivalent to taking 3,000 cars off the road. Keeping waste out of waterways also directly cuts flood risk and disease vectors.
Our venture support will help track, verify, and maximize this multifaceted social and environmental value. We see immense potential for Scrapays to improve incomes, public health outcomes, and climate resilience simultaneously across Nigerian cities.
Scrapays' core innovation is in using smart logistics to aggregate recyclable materials from Nigeria’s vast informal waste economy rather than deploying capital-intensive collection infrastructure. This asset-light and decentralised collection approach unlocks scale and affordability. Giving the ability to literally anyone to start up their recyclable waste collection business with a plug-and-play model, while supporting with an embedded finance framework needed for efficiency and economic inclusion at scale.
Hyperlocal agents conduct door-to-door collection using just a smartphone app and smart scales. Scrapays connects agents with waste producers, provides transportation through logistic partners, rental scales, offers working capital loans, and manages sales to corporate recycling partners. Capital expenditure is therefore minimized compared to alternatives like collection trucks or sorting facilities.
This model reaches household and small business waste streams often neglected by formal or municipal systems. Software coordination also allows responsively routing materials based on real-time generation data rather than fixed routes or schedules.
As pioneers in enabling micro-entrepreneur-driven waste management, Scrapays is integrating the informal sector through technology instead of competing against it. Carbon credits, subscription models, and enhanced analytics offer additional opportunities to drive future value.
Scrapays essentially productizes and coordinates the existing ecosystem of waste workers, consumers and recyclers to responsively meet urban material recovery needs. At an immense city scale, their asset-light approach unlocks household inclusion and youth livelihoods not possible through capital-intensive alternatives.
The addressable market for recovered materials and waste-related services in Lagos alone is huge. With informal activity dominating collection for the city’s over 300 metric tons per day of waste, infrastructure bottlenecks lead to immense unmet recycling demand. Moreover, the solution is needed across the continent and beyond as African cities grow and create more waste.
Scrapays has truly staggering growth potential on the horizon. As they rapidly expand agent and logistics networks, monthly revenues could dramatically outpace current runway rates. The team has bold plans to spread impact and operations across 20 additional Nigerian cities within just nine months. Structured geographic expansion will be crucial to drive scale and optimization.
Our venture-building support will focus intensely on enabling this growth trajectory through data-driven experimentation, route-to-market support, operational optimization, and impact measurement to quantify value across income, waste recovery, and emissions goals. We’re excited about the massive potential for Scrapays to positively disrupt waste management market economics while empowering circular cities across Nigeria.