Nigeria’s Chioma Ukonu Wins $200k in Chivas Venture Contest

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Nigeria’s Chioma Ukonu, COO of RecyclePoints, an incentive based recycling scheme, has emerged as the first runner-up at the Chivas Venture competition which took place in Los Angeles recently after pitching in front of a high profile panel including Oscar-winning actress, philanthropist and businesswoman, Halle Berry.

The Chivas Venture, the brand’s global search for the world’s most promising social entrepreneurs, rewarded all five finalists a share of the $1m fund at the final pitch event.

The announcement came after the five finalists pitched the potential of their start-up to create transformative social change to an expert judging panel that included the Chairman of Pernod Ricard, Alex Ricard.

Peetachai Dejkraisak of Siam Organic was awarded the largest share of the fund, receiving $400,000 for his venture while Ukonu was awarded $200,000 to scale her venture.

Recycle Points is a waste recycling and social benefit venture that operates an incentive-based scheme which collects recyclable materials from individuals and rewards them with “points” which they can accumulate and redeem for cash or other useful items offered through their “i-Recycle Store”.

Recycle Points employ young “wastebusters” to ride electric tricycles to collect these recyclable waste from door to door and employ unemployed women in the community to process these items and then sell off to recycling plants to use as raw materials for new products.

Other finalists to come away with funding on the night included Bioestibas ($50,000) from Colombia, a company that produces ecological stowage made with flower waste, that would normally be polluting the environment; I-Drop Water ($50,000) from South Africa who install purification and dispensing units at the point of sale and Intendu ($50,000) from Israel who have developed a videogame platform specifically designed for brain training.

Commenting on her win, Ukonu said “I am extremely thankful and grateful for this opportunity and the support of the Chivas team in Nigeria, the public for their efforts in securing me the additional funds.

“When we entered this competition, our dream was to win enough in funding to roll out this business model in other parts of Nigeria and with this funding, we are able to do just that quicker.”