Six Winning Startups Selected for the Second Edition of the USAID DAWERR Ideathon 2022

Posted on July 25, 2022

Startups had the opportunity to enhance their knowledge, receive support from experts and pitch their proposed solution to a panel of judges. ”

Ideathon 2022

ClimberSpace, EPlastR, Heat Me Green, Pulp, RBNTech, and Upcycled are the six winning startups of the second edition of the USAID DAWERR Ideathon 2022. This activity aims to support selected participants in growing their business in the fields of Solid Waste Management (SWM) sector in Lebanon.

Held over three consecutive days at Berytech Innovation Park- Mar Roukoz, the Ideathon was an exciting opportunity for entrepreneurs to solve real challenges in rural communities in Lebanon. Startups had the opportunity to enhance their knowledge, receive support from experts and pitch their proposed solution to a panel of judges. 

The jury, composed of Jad Sakr, Chief Of Party at DAWERR; Rachel Mallah, Local Development Lead at DAWERR; Ramy Boujawdeh, Chief Operating Officer at Berytech; Lara El Khoury, Deputy Program Director at Berytech; Marc Aoun, Co-Founder & CEO at Compost Baladi SAL; Sammy Kayed, Managing Director and Co-founder at Environment Academy; Neemat Abou Cham, Senior Solid Waste Management Specialist at Dar; and Ahmad Jaber, Financial Controller at Fransabank SAL. They evaluated the startups based on their idea validation, business model, competitiveness and scalability, innovation and impact and the team.

During the event, the participants had the opportunity to attend a panel on Waste Management with Existing Startups to learn more about lessons learned and best practices from recent experiences in the local market. This panel consisted of Rami Sbeih, co-founder of Plastc Lab, Reine Metlej, co-founder of BioWayste, Guglielmo Mazza, co-founder of Refuse Lebanon and Talal Salem, co-founder of Innergy Solutions, and was moderated by Richard Monzer, Private Sector Engagement and PPP Specialist at DAWERR.

Berytech organized the Ideathon for the Diverting Waste by Encouraging Reuse and Recycling (DAWERR) activity funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by ECODIT

Meet The Winners 

Each of the six winning startups will enter a two-month incubation program at Berytech, during which, they will receive technical and business support to validate their product and sharpen their business model. At the end of this phase, DAWERR will select three startups to move to the second phase of the incubation program and where each will receive an in-kind grant of up to $6,500 to finance their market research, branding, design, enhance their MVP, and register as a legal entity.  

Here are the winning teams: 

  1. ClimberSpace, an outdoor brand that focuses on providing climbing resoling services as well as developing eco-friendly outdoor products made from upcycled textile leftovers from the furniture industry. 
  2. EplastR, a project investigating the environmentally sustainable treatment of plastic e-waste. 
  3. Heat Me Green, a startup that collects various types of waste such as sawdust, used cooking oil, used papers, and so on and repurposes them into a two-hour-lasting fire log. 
  4. PulP, a social enterprise that creates low impact building materials from non-recyclable paper waste.  
  5. RBNTech a startup working on solving the problem of textile waste in Lebanon. They collect, sort, reuse and recycle the fabric straps and textile waste to prevent it from being dumped in landfills. When recycling, they shred the textile waste and transform it into insulation, carpet padding, and furniture fillings. 
  6. Upcycled, a startup focused on upcycling in the fashion industry. They restyle their clients’ old or sentimental clothes and turn them into fashionable items.  

The DAWERR team shared: “We were excited to see a sheer number of applications from brilliant female and male entrepreneurs who have founded startups with innovative solutions to tackle SWM challenges. We look forward to seeing how the six startups will grow during the first phase of their incubation, and even further in the second phase.”

Ideathon Participants 

DAWERR Ideathon 2022 received over 176 applications, of which, a technical evaluation committee chose 18 to participate in a three-day event, where they had the opportunity to pitch their business ideas on the final day for a chance to be chosen as one of the top six winners. 

The teams who also successfully completed USAID DAWERR Ideathon 2022 included: 

  1. Badeel Energy, a waste-to-energy project that uses biogas production. 
  2. Emergency Room, a project that repurposes unwanted textiles and thrifted clothing into low-cost items for a fashion-conscious community. 
  3. KawaFungo, a project aimed at developing a coffee waste value chain by establishing a collection system that assists coffee shops in disposing of their coffee ground waste in an environmentally friendly manner.  
  4. LiveLoveRecycle, a mobile application that is in the process of implementing a reward program for their users. 
  5. OrganyClean Liquid Sanitizer, a project that aims to create a skin-friendly liquid sanitizer made entirely of upcycled materials such as citrus peels. 
  6. ProGreen, a project dedicated to finding sustainable, environmentally friendly, and low-cost energy solutions, such as biodiesel made from recycled cooking oil. 
  7. RE – Tire, a project intended to reduce dumps and landfills caused by tire waste. 
  8. The Colored Glass Beach Initiative is a project aimed at transforming crushed waste glass into colorful pebbles to be added to a destination beach in Lebanon in order to reduce glass waste. 
  9. Used Cooking Oil Recycling, a project that aims to reuse cooking oil as raw materials in the production of cosmetic products and soap bars. 
  10. UWTYA – Upcycle What You Throw Away, a project centered on upcycling non-recyclable chips and chocolate wrappers into affordable aprons, tote bags, and pouches, all while aiding vulnerable women. 
  11. WOMENOON, a project aimed at creating environmentally friendly, reusable period pads. 
  12. Zamatna – زمطنا, a delivery application-based project aimed at establishing a positive link between ordering food and sorting waste at home. 

The Ideathon 

The second edition of the USAID DAWERR Ideathon provided an exciting opportunity for startups to present /share their innovative solid waste management solutions based on the three pillars of Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle in order to solve real-world problems and challenges in Lebanon. 

Each participating startup, in their own way, is either reducing waste for disposal, reducing waste to go to landfill. 

The four core challenges that the Ideathon was addressing revolved around: Special waste and rejects: personal hygiene products, tires, glass, furniture and Electronic and Electrical Equipment (EEE), Waste to Energy: Biogas and Biodiesel, Waste Collection Optimization, and Incentivizing sorting at source through reward programs and awareness content (videos, games, articles, etc.) 

Youssef Yammine who assisted the startups through one-on-one sessions and throughout the Ideathon stated: “Seeing the number of entrepreneurs tackling waste management challenges during this crisis is astounding. We saw interesting ideas that approached the waste problem from various perspectives, and the co-founders demonstrated passion and commitment to their startups. The three-day training provided filled gaps in the startups and assisted participants in building on their efforts and taking their ideas to the next level.” 

For three days, participants received various business workshops from professional coaches, including the Business Model Canvas, to help them understand the key strategic factors of their startup, from defining their customer segments to determining their cost structure. 

Before presenting their pitches to the jury, the teams also received one-on-one coaching sessions from field and business experts. 

This Ideathon was an opportunity for everyone to realize that not only is reducing, reusing, and recycling waste important for lowering environmental impact, but it can also be profitable. 

This article is published under the Diverting Waste by Encouraging Reuse and Recycling (DAWERR), a five-year activity funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with the goal to establish sustainable and replicable integrated solid waste diversion and valorization solutions in rural areas. of Lebanon.