(MENAFN- Weber Shandwick) Dubai, UAE – 21 November 2023 – PepsiCo has announced Lebanon-based start-up Dooda Solutions as the winner of the second iteration of its Greenhouse Accelerator Program: MENA Sustainability Edition, in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) and Food Tech Valley (FTV). Dooda Solutions was selected from over 180 applicants, following a rigorous multi-stage selection process and six-months of mentorship, and will receive a $100,000 grant, along with a host of other benefits, to scale their sustainable agricultural solution and grow their business.
Dooda Solutions, a woman-led earthworm farm, specializes in producing premium-grade vermicompost (organic fertilizers) at commercial scale. Its nutrient-rich vermicompost restores soil health by improving its structure, increasing nutrient availability, and enhancing microbial activity. In the program’s final stages, the team demonstrated a truly innovative and scalable solution with a commitment to pushing the boundaries of sustainable agriculture innovations.
The winner was announced at the closing ceremony held at Museum of the Future, following pitches and a product showcase by each start-up. The event drew participation from His Excellency Eng. Mohammed Mousa Alameeri, Assistant Undersecretary for the Food Diversity Sector at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, and Lāth Carlson, Executive Director of Museum of the Future. The expert judging panel comprised His Royal Highness Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al Saud, Founder and CEO of KBW Ventures; Sheikh Dr. Majid Al Qassimi, Founder & Partner of Soma Mater Management Consultancies; Wael Ismail, Vice President for Corporate Affairs at PepsiCo Africa, Middle East and South Asia; Alanoud Al Hashmi, CEO of SDG GLOBAL & Futurist; and George Shenouda, Africa Lead, Development and Investment at Masdar.
The program this year focused on sustainable agriculture in line with PepsiCo’s sustainability strategy, pep+ (PepsiCo Positive). The AgriTech industry in MENA has attracted around $250 million in funding in 2022, instilling confidence in regional start-ups and their innovation potential for sustainable agriculture. The Greenhouse Accelerator Program has created new growth opportunities in this space, helping the startup ecosystem flourish.
“At the heart of our nation’s priorities lies the commitment to food security and sustainable agriculture. As we prepare to host the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference, Conference of the Parties (COP28), later this month, we recognize the significance of addressing global challenges through innovation and collaboration. We are prioritizing the acceleration of efforts to achieve the objectives of the UAE’s National Food Security Strategy 2051 through partnerships and solutions that bring a paradigm shift in the agricultural sector and food systems. One such initiative is the Greenhouse Accelerator Program as it provides a stage for entrepreneurs and startups to shed light on their pioneering solutions, driving the cause of sustainability, while fostering innovation. I commend all participants for bringing forth their innovative solutions, and PepsiCo, Food Tech Valley, and all partners involved for their dedication to this initiative. I’m confident that together, we will enhance the resilience and sustainability of the food sector – paving the way for a more sustainable future for all,” said His Excellency Eng. Mohammed Mousa Alameeri, Assistant Undersecretary for the Food Diversity Sector – Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.
“Building on the success of the first edition of our MENA Greenhouse Accelerator, this year marked a significant step towards accelerating progress in sustainable agriculture in the region. As part of our commitments to achieve net-zero emissions by 2040 and become net water positive by 2030, we are actively facilitating innovation to drive tangible change at scale. At PepsiCo, we are dedicated to supporting innovators and entrepreneurs who are at the forefront of sustainable solutions. By providing them with a wealth of resources and offering them a platform to showcase their solutions on global stages, such as at COP28, we want to help them thrive. We’re excited about Dooda Solution’s potential to transform the regional agriculture sector and look forward to creating more opportunities for other promising startups that will have a lasting positive impact on society,” said Aamer Sheikh, CEO at PepsiCo Middle East.
“It is a huge honour to be recognized by PepsiCo’s Greenhouse Accelerator Program: MENA Sustainability Edition. This journey has been transformative, providing our business with invaluable insights, mentorship, and tools to refine and scale our sustainable agriculture solution. The program’s extensive reach and network have helped us connect with like-minded entrepreneurs, potential partners, and investors who share our vision for sustainable agriculture, not only accelerating our growth but also reinforcing our commitment to driving sustainable change in the MENA region. We are excited about the journey ahead and remain committed to scaling our operations effectively to provide sustainable solutions to all,” said Nada Ghanem, Founder and Managing Director at Dooda Solutions.
All start-ups that participated in the program received an initial grant of $20,000 and one-on-one mentorship from PepsiCo and external partners over a six month span, who guided them on everything from research and development to business models, marketing, and fundraising. In addition, six companies selected from both cohorts of the Greenhouse Accelerator Program: MENA Sustainability Edition will be featured in a dedicated showcase at COP28 in Dubai. The move will expand the growing businesses opportunities for growth and strengthen the program’s legacy.
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