Christabel Altraide is from Port Harcourt City Nigeria. She is a graduate of Computer Science. Her passion for pageantry and beauty has won her several awards including the Face of Port Harcourt City 2016/2017.
Christabel started RECYCLEPH as a pet project during her reign as Face of Port Harcourt she realized she was passionate about recycling and so decided to make it a household name.
RECYCLEPH has a global vision to recycle waste materials into useful household materials for the local market. The brand also sensitizes students in school about the importance of recycling.
Christabel Altraide won the Tedx Port Harcourt idea search 2017. She has also been recognized as one of 25 under 30 young leaders in Port Harcourt.
In this interview, Christabel talks about her projects with RECYCLEPH and how she started her business.
A lot of people do not know that waste was useful - Christabel Altraide Click To Tweet
How did you start caring for the environment?
After my studies in the Benin Republic, I came back to Nigeria for the recommended National Youth Service in Nigeria. I worked as an administrative officer at the Nigerian Air Force Mobility Command.
Eventually, I got tired of sitting all day in the office, so I volunteered with my friend who was working on a personal project. We came up with ideas and we drew up proposals.
It was taking me out of the office and I enjoyed it. I met several people, we had a lot of support in Yenegoa since we were Corp members. We organized clean up at Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and we did school sensitization.
When we finished our service year, we received the honorarium award for the best community development project from Abuja.
Why did you go into Beauty Pageantry?
In a bid to carry on the projects from Yenegoa to my city, I contested for the Face of Port Harcourt City. I presented this project as a pet project.
It was highly appreciated, and this passion was one major factor that made me win the crown of Face of Port Harcourt City in 2016.
Tell us about your Organization RECYCLEPH
RECYCLEPH is an Eco-friendly organization. Everything Eco-friendly is what we portray, from awareness program to waste creation is what we do. We carry out sensitization campaign, cleanup activities, up till recycling, that is sustainable waste management.
RECYCLEPH also has a charity arm that encourages people to give back their re-useable materials and we give it to charity. We provide internally displaced persons to these materials and visit motherless babies homes and prisons.
Ultimately we want to be able to go through the whole process of recycling. It’s a very capital intensive sector of waste management because we need the machine and workforce, everything we are doing now is geared to the point where we are able to get that equipment and gather investors.
You visit schools for sensitization and environmental awareness, what has the progress been so far?
We started going to schools in July 2017, so far we have sixteen environment and recycling clubs in sixteen schools in Port Harcourt. The numbers are so because we do not want to put up clubs in schools and leave them hanging, due to sustainability.
We want to monitor their progress and carry them along in every project we’re working on. So far, we’ve been able to build their minds to begin to focus on environmental issues and think up solutions.
As we proceed we’ll be able to add more schools until we have a high profile impact value.
As a non-profit Organization, how do you raise funds?
There are organizations that are put up to provide sponsorships for projects like what we do. They Support us.
We also get support from environmentally conscious individuals. We approach businesses and brands who want to put themselves in a good light. For sensitization, we don’t get to spend a lot of money since a lot of people volunteer.
We cover our basic expenses like online fliers and banners through the waste we collect from schools and hotels. RECYCLEPH acts as middlemen to dispose of their trash and plastics to recycling companies in Lagos. This fund though quite low covers for our basic expenditures.People are amazed at the initiative I have taken to do something about my city - Christabel Altraide Click To Tweet
So far what impact has your organization created in your city?
When we started, a lot of people did not know that waste was useful, now people pick up plastics. There are businesses in that line already.
Since we started we have been able to bring to light the endless benefits of recycling. The government has been gone to stir development towards waste management because we’ve been hammering on it.
We decided not to focus on the problems but the solutions, so we started doing what we can. It’s working because people have started asking more questions about the environment and making an investment in that line.
Organizations that only used to warn against littering ane now asking telling people not to litter because waste is useful.
As a beauty Queen, what’s the perception of people seeing you in the waste management industry?
Positive! It is one of the things that have kept me going. People have supported me financially and otherwise. It is not a conventional thing to find a young beautiful girl in my city making a change in this area.
They see a young woman that is making a name for herself, and they are surprised that there are ladies like me in the city. People are amazed at the initiative I have taken to do something about my city and not just anything but something extra. Indeed it has been humbling to see people contribute in several ways to RECYCLEPH.
What has been the most fulfilling part of your journey as a social entrepreneur
I really can’t say. A lot has happened since our inception. If I was told that I would be featured in She Leads Africa I wouldn’t have believed it.
Every day is a new journey, it just keeps unfolding. I like to think that the best days of my life are not here yet. Today I’m celebrating one victory, the next day I want to cover more ground.
Having the chance to showcase my brand on Tedx Port Harcourt finitely stood out for me.
Where do you see your brand in ten years?
RECYCLEPH is a global brand because this problem is not only in my city, the issue of improper waste management is everywhere in the world.
We are not local champions and we do not see ourselves as such. Port Harcourt is home and will always be home. It is the building block to where we want to be. We will put structures in every city, in every state, in every country, watch out.
How do you keep your skin popping for the runway?
Shea butter and coconut oil.
What advice do you have for Social Entrepreneurs starting out?
Start. Simply start.
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