Woven wonders from water weeds and waste

Story highlights

  • Achenyo Idachaba returned to Nigeria in 2009 hoping to start a business
  • Always interested in the environment, Idachaba noticed an abundance of water hyacinth
  • It is a fresh water weed known for clogging waterways, lowering fish populations
  • She decided to take the environmental pest and turn it into beautiful handcrafts
Every week, African Start-Up follows entrepreneurs in various countries across the continent to see how they are working to make their business dreams become reality.

Ibadan, Nigeria (CNN)Along the Niger Delta, an abundance of vivid purple flowers are blooming gently on the surface of the water, adding a touch of color to the inland waterways.

But that's where the beauty ends because these striking flowers are water hyacinths -- an aquatic weed wreaking havoc in local communities and ruining water supplies.
    Not only does this fast-growing water pest curtail access to waterways and cause problems for local fishermen, it also depletes nutrients from the water, which in turn reduces fish populations.
      But where many see an invasive aquatic nuisance, Nigerian entrepreneur Achenyo Idachaba identified a business opportunity.
      Setting up shop in Ibadan, a city in the south-west region of Nigeria, she began harvesting the water hyacinth and transforming the waste product into intricately handcrafted everyday items.
      "What we do is take an environmental problem and turn it into a win-win solution," Idachaba explains.