Napata, a social enterprise based in Aswan in southern Egypt, recycles palm waste by turning it into eco-friendly products.
The second place prize, worth $6,000, went to Green Alafco, a Tunisian startup that recycles aluminum. Lebanese startup Pathfinder that offers automated visual aid and a navigation system to serve the visually impaired, won the third place prize of $4,000.
Organized by PepsiCo and in partnership with Wamda, the goal of the competition was to promote MENA-based social enterprises that develop solutions with a “triple bottom line” of profitability, sustainability, and social impact.
“I believe there is a great role for enterprises to drive social and environmental returns for the community,” said Noha Hefny, director of MENA corporate affairs at PepsiCo. The region’s public sector is not capable of catering to societal problems alone, she added.
The three winners were selected from a final group of 10 startups, representing five Arab countries.
The competition received 108 applications, with more than half from Egypt.
“The absence of sustainable governance during the last couple of years in Egypt, pushed people to find their own solutions for their social problems. Egypt has a huge population and there’s a lot of underprivileged people compared to the small GCC countries,” said Jana Kassem, Wamda’s competition organizer.
With $10,000 guaranteed, Islam Yaseen’s vision is threefold. As the founder of Nepata, Yaseen intends to use the money to introduce new designs to the products, expand the team, and establish a creative crafts space in Aswan.
The competition was part of the Amwaj 2016 forum which gathered 200 attendants from at least 15 countries to discuss social entrepreneurship and sustainability in the MENA region.
“Embedding environmental awareness within your business model from the very beginning is the key to leading sustainable development,” said Stuart Reigeluth, the founder of Revolve Water that organized the event with PepsiCo.