Nadine Lakatoo wants to put an end to the e-waste problem that is plaguing Trinidad and Tobago.
Because almost every task is now done using a device, which is usually dumped once it has served their purpose and are no longer functional, the landfills are overflowing with them.
Lakatoo said people are not sure what to do with the electronics and just dump them without considering what happens after. These devices, when not properly discarded, secrete harmful chemicals which can harm humans and wildlife with which they come into contact.
Lakatoo has 20 years of experience in the waste management field, and over nine year ago she formed Piranha International Ltd (PIL), an e-waste management company.
“I got into e-waste management because I recognised that there were no environmentally sound solutions to the problem of discarded electronics at that time after returning from my studies abroad.”
Lakatoo has a master’s degree in business strategy and environmental studies from the UK’s University of Bradford. She graduated in 2000 and brought a whole new perspective on e-waste management to TT.
PIL is located in California, Couva and offers an array of waste management and recycling services, ranging from e-waste to data destruction with the use of shredders and an incinerator. Prior to starting PIL, Lakatoo was a health and safety executive and said her background in that area gave her a huge advantage when she had to gather information on the industry’s operations.
“This gave me an excellent opportunity to evaluate the state of the waste management industry in the country and identify the gaps.”
Lakatoo works closely with the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) on projects committed to decreasing e-waste levels in the country’s landfills.
She said as a woman getting into business on her own, she has had her fair share of challenges. She recalled a time a few years ago when, because of her gender, she was mistaken for an employee instead of the head of her company.
“One of my most memorable experiences is when I was manning the company’s (PIL) booth at the EMA business expo and a man came up to me and declared, ‘I know your boss.’ Whole time he was referring to one of the company’s business director.”
Lakatoo said that experiences only urged her to encourage more women to take the risk and venture out on their own, form their own company and try to save the world one business at a time.
“Nobody is born knowing everything. Sometimes I myself feel intimidated and not in control when I think of how much more there is to learn. Recognise these moments as opportunities for improvement.
“Don’t put yourself down and similarly, never look down on anyone.
“I am always so proud and excited to see my fellow formers classmates of Naparima Girls’ High School in meetings.
“As women, let’s always lift each other up.”
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