The Venture 2017 Gulf regional final
For those that don’t know, The Venture is a platform and competition which allows social entrepreneurs to gain exposure and compete for a $1 million dollar prize fund, awarded at the final in Los Angeles. Until then, four of the gulf’s most promising start-ups have been shortlisted for a regional final. The final will consist of a presentation from each business, followed by an unremitting Q&A session with an expert judging panel. The winner of the regional final, will head to Los Angeles to compete in the global final, looking to get their hands on the $1 million prize fund and shoot themselves from start up, to an established business, creating positive change. Here’s the contestants.
ENTRANT: RANIA KANAAN
STAGE: START UP
Charicycles is a UAE-based social brand that up-cycles and customises forgotten vintage bicycle frames to promote a clean environment while encouraging a healthier lifestyle. The journey started a few years ago when the founders, sisters Zaina and Rania Kanaan, were searching for the perfect bicycle in the UAE. Dissatisfied with the choice on offer, they decided to make one by repainting a second-hand frame in their favourite colour.
Their bicycle quickly became a hit on the streets, and it prompted them to identify a demand for a product that both reduces waste in landfills while making users healthier and happier. They realised that the feeling of freedom felt on a bicycle can, and should, be shared. Charicycles was formed with the mission statement that for every five bicycles sold, one bicycle would be gifted to a child in a refugee camp located in the MENA region. The bicycles are distributed in accordance to an educational reward programme to incentivise the children to attend more classes and study harder. Charicyles is also working on a campaign with Facebook for women’s empowerment in the MENA region.
COMPANY: NOW MONEY
ENTRANT: KATHARINE BUDD AND IAN DILLON
STAGE: START UP
Co-founders Katharine Budd and Ian Dillon came from a UK banking background to the GCC, where they discovered that 70 percent of the population didn’t meet the minimum salary level requirement to open a traditional bank account. This is a group that makes monthly remittances overseas in the region of $30bn annually in the UAE alone, yet they are restricted to using prepaid payroll cards and cash deposits at exchange houses, which typically charge over eight percent for remittances.
Knowing there was a captive market with a reliable remittance behaviour pattern gave Budd and Dillon the idea for NOW Money, an app-based account and remittance marketplace geared to the 4.5 million people in the UAE’s low-income market (and a further estimated 21 million in the wider Gulf). The NOW Money smartphone app provides a safe and immediate remittance solution for people who are excluded from the benefits afforded to those with traditional bank accounts. By giving users visibility of balance and transactions and a marketplace of remittance options, users benefit from the same low rates and "anytime, anywhere" transaction options that wealthier customers are used to. And it does so while also keeping the cost under four percent of total transaction value, providing users with significant savings.
COMPANY: HEALTH GATE
ENTRANT: MAYA ALGHAITH
When a close friend of Maya Alghaith lost the chance to bear children because of cervical cancer, she wanted to find out what went wrong. She discovered that the sanitary products that millions of women use in the region every month are not regulated. Many are made from materials that can be very toxic to the body. Alghaith made it her mission to find a solution and was fortunate to find the answer — safe, natural, non-toxic sanitary products that use the science of waterfalls.
Health Gate has harnessed this power of nature and created HG Anion sanitary products that are 100 percent natural. They release negative ions that prevent or fight and eliminate bacteria, virus, and fungus. Health Gate, based in Dubai, was born of a desire to enhance the lives of people, while contributing to greater health and environmental benefits. It is also the regional distributor for several manufacturers of high-quality health and personal-care products from around the world.
ENTRANT: PEDRO RODRIGUEZ CODINA
STAGE: START UP
Pedro Rodriguez Codina always wanted to have his own T-shirt brand but appreciated that this was a saturated sector. Undeterred, he set about creating a brand that would make a statement and have a positive impact. Founded in Dubai, ilovemypocket T-shirts are 100 percent cotton, made under fair-trade conditions and have a distinctive pocket located on the left side. The launch piece is the traditional ghotra, an unmistakable symbol of Middle Eastern culture.
The brand also helps children in need. For every T-shirt sold, 10 percent of its retail value is donated to a charitable organisation. This is born of Codina’s belief that every action in our lives can help change the world, and that every business today can and must give back.
To find out more about how business can be a force for good, along with valuable advice and support to start your own social enterprise, visit The Venture website