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Nadeera, a UAE-based social enterprise that leverages technology to promote waste sorting at source, has won the first iteration of PepsiCo’s MENA Greenhouse Accelerator Program, receiving a grant of US$100,000 and a host of benefits to scale its sustainable packaging solution.
The Greenhouse Accelerator Program is a global, mentor-led accelerator program which launched its first iteration in the MENA region in November 2021, in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and Food Tech Valley.
The first edition of the accelerator sought to identify regional startups with innovative solutions focused on sustainable packaging and recycling, driving forward PepsiCo Positive (pep+) goals to help build a circular and inclusive value chain.
The closing event, which was held at Museum of the Future on October 2022, was attended by HE Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Aamer Sheikh, PepsiCo Middle East CEO, as well as an esteemed judging panel including Medea Nocentini, Senior Partner and COO of Global Ventures, Dr. Lina Prada, Director of Application Development and Industry Solutions within the Technology and Innovation Department at SABIC, Tammer Qaddumi, co-founder of VentureSouq, Mohamed AlHosani, Chief Sustainability Officer at BEEAH Group, Yasmin Fansa, Sustainability Lead for PepsiCo MENA and Butti Almuhairi, Member of the Arab Youth Council for Climate Change.
HE Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, and Aamer Sheikh, CEO, Middle East – PepsiCo.
Speaking at the event, HE Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said that the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment supported PepsiCo’s Greenhouse Accelerator Program because it recognized the potential of startups in making the food and beverage sector more sustainable. “Startups have always been known to rise to the challenge, innovate fearlessly, and break the mold, particularly in the face of rising global challenges like sustainability,” HE Almheiri added. “This initiative aligns with the UAE’s drive to shift towards a circular economy and is another example of how great ideas can come through open innovation and collaboration.”
Following a rigorous judging process and a six-month PepsiCo mentorship program, Nadeera was declared the winner for its Yalla Return product, the first trash for cash system in the MENA region which gives customers cash rewards based on the quantity of recyclables they turn in. In addition to the prize fund, the Nadeera team will be included in the Arab Youth Startup Marketplace cohort and access to Arab Youth Council partners.
Other participating startups -five from the UAE, one from Saudi Arabia, two from Jordan, and two from Lebanon- have all received a grant of $20,000.
Aamer Sheikh, CEO, Middle East – PepsiCo, said that the MENA region has set an example in placing sustainability at the top of the agenda at major events like Expo 2020 Dubai, COP27, the Saudi Green Initiative and the upcoming COP28, sparking critical discussions with players at different levels to effect systemic change. “We have partnered with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and the Food Tech Valley to drive the circular economy agenda in the region, and this is a great example of how open innovation and collaboration can create value for multiple stakeholders.”
Rabih El Chaar, co-founder and CEO of Nadeera, said that the programs like PepsiCo’s Greenhouse Accelerator help foster a nurturing environment for groundbreaking innovation. “As a startup in the sustainability sector, we are trying to overcome many hurdles, from changing consumer mindsets to overcoming challenges related to capital, resources, and network, we have a long way to go,” El Chaar added. “Thanks to the nature of the startup ecosystem in the region there is potential for more unicorns and the regulatory environment is more supportive than ever before.”
For more information on the Greenhouse Accelerator Program please visit Greenhouse Accelerator Program.