Pierre Baaklini and Raymond Boustani, eco-innovators who received training and coaching support from GIMED, joined the panel sessions. Source: Berytech
The first annual EcoSwitch Festival for eco-entrepreneurs in Lebanon welcomed over 65 participants online and 80 at the physical networking event at the Beirut Digital District, where they got the chance to meet and exchange collaboration proposals. Organized by the EcoSwitch Coalition, two green eco-innovators trained by GIMED participated in the event: Pierre Baaklini from Lebanon Waste Management project and Raymond Boustani from Froz.me.
The EcoSwitch Coalition, in which Berytech is a member, is a partnership of well-established institutions, NGOs and businesses that has been created in 2020 to strengthen the support to eco-entrepreneurs in Lebanon, extend and multiply their positive impact through targeted assistance. The event was divided into three days (online days: 23rd, 24th and physical event: 25th of November), with the welcoming of Andrea Ruzo, Project Manager at the Regional Activity Center for Sustainable Consumption and Production (SPC/RAC), on the physical gathering.
Gathering Green Enterprises
The festival included different knowledge-sharing discussions, expert panel sessions, speed dating and networking activities. One of the highlights of the event was the inspirational talks from four successful Lebanese green entrepreneurs: Batoul Hakim from SAVVY ELEMENT, Marc Aoun from Compost Baladi SAL, Vanessa Zuabi from Mint Basil Market, and Ralph Sbeih from Plastclab.
“The event was very fruitful. We had the opportunity to meet other startups, hear what they are working on, feel the community sense and really be able to empower other startups that were in the audience,” explains Marc Aoun, Founder of Compost Baladi.
Furthermore, four animated discussion panels with moderators, experts and eco-entrepreneurs ran on the topics of: Local Sourcing & Local Manufacturing; Export & Access to International Markets; Pricing Products in Times of Crisis; Access to Investment: Current Outlook – Donors & Investors; with the aim of enabling start-ups to take informed decisions given the current local climate.
“What I liked the most was the number of the participating entrepreneurs and their diversity. I liked the working groups and how well the event was organized. It helped us get to know and connect more with other eco-entrepreneurs, describes Ralph Sbeih, Founder of Plastc Lab.
Reducing waste and recycling dry solid waste, voices from GIMED
“Most millennial consumers in Lebanon know that they should reduce waste, but the problem is that they’re not engaged”. These are the words from Raymon Boustani, co-founder of Froz.me who joined the Pricing Products in Times of Crisis panel discussion. They are offering an e-commerce platform that provides swift access to many eco-friendly products with a twist: they’re gamifying waste reduction in Lebanon.
On his side, Pierre Baaklini is the founder of Lebanon Waste Management, a startup that is treating dry solid waste and using unrecyclable waste to make new and customized bricks and tiles. They joined the Local Sourcing & Local Manufacturing discussion, with more than 100 tons of recyclables per month, 250 establishments and 30,000 clients. This project was selected for the incubation phase in Lebanon and is currently receiving support from GIMED.
EcoSwitch is supported by the Asfari Foundation and was enabled through SwitchMed, a program funded by the European Union and managed between different organisations among which the SCP/RAC, which aim is to accelerate the transition towards social innovation and green circular entrepreneurship in the region.
Its aim is to offer eco-entrepreneurs knowledge sharing events, capacity building activities, access to expertise and technical support, and other assistance through events like the Festival and Entrepreneurship Labs. Another important objective is to help build a community of like-minded people, with space for networking and collaboration between local sustainable enterprises.
The EcoSwitch Coalition currently encompasses 17 Partners, all providing different types of support to entrepreneurs in general, and some more specifically to green entrepreneurs: Beirut Digital District, Berytech, Beyond Group, Bloom EMEA, cewas Middle East, The Circular Hub, Changelabs, EcoConsulting – UK & Lebanon, Fondation Diane (implementing partner of SwitchMed in Lebanon), INJAZ Lebanon (Junior Achievement Worldwide), LAU FMIC, makesense, Proquale, Smart ESA ,Nucleus Ventures, TEC- Tripoli Entrepreneurs Club, and Waterlution Canada.