BEIRUT: In the heat of the recent increase in diverse global strategies to tackling the repercussions of climate change, Lebanon is having its fair share of activism.
The Bathish auditorium of the American University of Beirut hosted on Saturday afternoon an event organized by impACT and cewas Middle East, dedicated to introducing and encouraging emerging and established local startups focused on solving environmental challenges.
The AUB Entrepreneurship Club is the local representative of impACT, a solidarity network of entrepreneurs that highlights the importance of equal access to opportunity for social impact, founded in Afghanistan in 2017.
The event featured high-profile engaging speakers who called attention to the nuances of social start-up success within a program that included power talks, a panel discussion, an expo and a competition.
Within the power talks and the panel discussion of the conference, numerous significant topics were discussed, such as the extent to which Lebanon is contributing to achieving the 2030 agenda, establishing an ecosystem for innovation in rural areas, and the government and ecosystem role in understanding the needs and solving challenges entrepreneurs face in the water, waste, and energy sector.
Through the dynamic panel discussion moderated by Youmna Naufal, Berytech’s Krystel Khalil, fabricAID’s Tamara Ghandour, and LiveLoveRecycle’s Eddy Bitar delved into explaining their personal experiences with partaking in environmental initiatives, and curated words of encouragement to the attendees.
The panelists focused on sharing the importance of the element of passion and determination within the mission to launch any fruitful idea for a startup.
“Beginning a startup should not only be in pursuit of making money,” Ghandour, one of the panelists, said to the audience. Adding that the most important motive to launch a successful startup is “what global impact it’s leaving for the coming generations.”
Following the discussion, an exhibition featuring the efforts of already established local startups and those of six emerging competing entrepreneurs took place.
The established startups present at the exhibition demonstrated their works since the launch of the cewas Lebanon program in March 2018, which is the first dedicated start-up program for water, sanitation, and waste in the country.
Numerous distinctive startups were on board the event such as LifeHaus, a project that seeks to develop energy netural, low-cost and self-sufficient housing; and Casa Lavanda, a startup aiming at encouraging the use of native aromatic herbs for their medicinal purposes.
The 2019 Rotary-cewas Water, Sanitation & Waste Resource Award of 5000 USD was given to encourage the projects of two of six competing groups: Innovating Green Technology, Too Good to Waste, OrganyClean, Mukafeh al Zebar, Joona, and Lamp.
The winning startups were Mukafeh Al Zebar, an initiative focusing on treating olive mills wastewater on-site, producing water that is safely used in irrigation, and OrganyClean, a startup that provides eco-friendly and sustainable hygiene products.
“We wanted students to attend this event to discover the local efforts confronting the environmental issues, and get inspired to inspire new efforts themselves,” Dana Daoud, president of the AUB Entrepreneurship Club, told Annahar.
According to Daoud, who’s also one of the organizers, many startup competitions take place in Lebanon, however “very few focus on the environmental initiatives.”
“The waste crisis should be observed as an opportunity,” Ahmad Moallem, Media team leader of “Students for Sustainable Energy for All,” told Annahar, adding that it’s “the youth’s role to have an entrepreneurial spirit and offer solutions when they see something wrong.”
#impACTbeirut was launched in partnership with cewas Middle East, the Rotary Clubs of Willisau, Baabda, Saida and Tripoli Cosmopolis, and The Entrepreneurship Club (eClub).
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