An Ashoka Fellow and previous French Teacher, Evariste Aohoui started PARO CI in 2011 because he was tired of how dirty Abidjan was. Initially, they did small and specific activities like cleanups as volunteers, taking the opportunity to sensitise people about keeping the environment clean. Later on is when they started to focus on e-waste and today, they recycle electronic equipment that would otherwise turn into waste. Translated to English, PARO CI stands for Waste Management and Recycling Programme.
The first step for PARO CI in the e-waste management process is sensitisation. They spend time sensitising people about recycling generally and e-waste recycling specifically. Thus households begin sorting their waste and giving them access to discarded electronic devices. They then collect and transport the discarded devices to their warehouse where they are sorted by category, and then depolluted.
After depollution comes separation into different components like plastic, copper and aluminium. The different components are then valued. The ones that cannot be valued locally are sent over to technical partners in France. They value 70% locally, but there are plans underway to be able to manage all of it locally.
Evariste quickly realised that it would take a lot of time and resources to increase awareness and collect waste from household to household, so he decided to make strategic partnerships with other organisations such as MTN and the African Development Bank to make use of corporate social responsibility for e-waste management. He partners with supermarkets that have collection points and he also partners with universities, through which students studying related topics like environmental science can do internships, write papers, and publish them online to raise awareness.
Evariste is also very passionate about bridging the digital gap between those in the community that can afford electronic devices and those that can’t. Before recycling, they check for devices that can be reused. They repair these, and give out to less privileged families. To determine which families are really in need, PARO-CI partners with NGOs that are already based in the communities. They then keep the families in a database so that they can replace and recycle those devices as well. They donate computers, laptops, TV and radio sets, mobile phones, thus making sure that even less privileged families have access to information and technology. They are upfront with their donors about this possibility of social impact so that they can decide whether they want their devices to be used in that way, or straight to destruction.
Through his entrepreneurial journey, Evariste continues to learn that everything is possible. He reflects that once you know exactly what you want and have the passion for it, you’ll persevere through all the difficulties of achieving your objectives because you enjoy the work.
“When you have a big dream and you are passionate about it, nothing can stop you until you reach your objectives. Believe me.” – Evariste Aohoui, Founder of PARO-CI CLICK TO TWEET
Watch the full interview to discover how he went from French Teacher to CEO of an e-waste management company, the challenges he encountered in the process, why he credits his success in the business to cocreation and how he thinks other young people without resources can benefit from it, how he is engaging strategic partners in society to push for systemic change in the field, his advice to anyone who wants to start an e-waste management business, and so much more.
Here the Social Links to Evariste Aohoui and PARO-CI:
- Evariste Aohoui on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/evariste.aohoui
- Evariste Aohoui on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/evariste_aohoui/
- Evariste Aohoui on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/evariste-aohoui-829a7448/
- Evariste Aohoui’s Profile on the Ashoka Website: https://www.ashoka.org/en/fellow/evariste-aohoui
- The PARO-CI Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paroci/