11 Sep 2018
Cairo, Egypt
Resource Efficiency and Sustainable Waste Management

Having worked for an NGO before, Shady Abdalla mastered how to reach the public. Unlike other waste management initiatives, he did not dictate what should be done but rather presented facts about Egypt’s – almost – irredeemable waste crisis. Egypt might be hit with 80 million tons of garbage every year, but Abdallah has unshakable beliefs that artisanship and waste management are not mutually exclusive.

In 2017, Abdallah and his late co-founder, Medhat Benzoher started their comprehensive initiative, Greenish in a worthwhile attempt to raise social awareness around waste and waste management through the significant reduction in using plastics, as well as creating art pieces made entirely from trash. “After 2017, our endeavors became more organized, with a company, accreditation, and contents to show for, whether through schools, companies or other entities,” says Abdallah.

At the same time, Abdallah and Benzoher wanted to address the issue of accessibility of some companies to waste management facilities and solutions. “We started reaching out to these companies to help them reduce their waste and provide a flexible scheme to turn this waste to upcycled items,” Abdallah explains. He added that besides that there is the Greenish online platform where these upcycled products can be sold. It is set to officially launch in October of this year and is considered to be the first of its kind in Africa.

Greenish’s start and the long way ahead:

When the company was first established, both co-founders took it upon themselves to secure enough funds for a decent start. “Both of us came from an entirely different background and we wanted to test this business model. We also wanted to test the sustainability and continuity of our initiative to generate revenues while veering away from being a quick money-making project,” Abdallah adds.

By the end of the first year, 25% of the profits Greenish made came from tours around five cities (five communities), through spreading knowledge around plastics and their harmful effects and making location-specific artworks for each community. “About our business model, we get money through the workshops we hold, as well as the training we conduct in schools, corporates, and NGOs,” Abdallah shares about their first revenue stream. “Our second revenue stream is through the marketing fees of the products we sell online.”

A unique strategy for a creative initiative:

The idea of expansion is on Abdallah’s plan, be it in the Middle East, the MENA region or Africa. However, he is already being inclusive of all sorts of businesses and partnerships. “The thing we need the most is partnering up with other initiatives, especially for small projects that we’re embarking on,” he says.

Abdallah also eyes the concept of content creation in Arabic, which can be costly, all the more reason to seek funding. The initiative which is continuously touring Egypt’s governorates to hold workshops or run activities such as beach cleanups and can recycling has recently paired up with the beauty brand L’Oréal for its sustainability program “Sharing Beauty with All” and in partnership with  the students of Al Darb El Ahmar School for Arts, Culture and Music to spread awareness about the environment.

Another partnership was with Suzanna Aprille Valle who was, at the time, an international school principal in Hurghada. She mentioned that Greenish is great at providing mentorship and bringing the next generation up about what’s important in life and the environment spiritually and societally. “[People here] are depleted and 30% of youth don’t go to school, it’s sad,” Valle says.

Valle who is a huge advocate for environmental awareness especially around the Red Sea. “I like working to educate kids on the environment as it is easier — working with adults can be quite arduous,” she adds. Valle says that she knew of Greenish and became excited that they were going to the Red Sea governorate. “I was also looking for some young people who could use improvisation and theatrics to put across the message or anti-bullying. I contacted some educators in Cairo and they hooked me with Shady and Medhat,” she explains of how they were introduced.

Greenish ended up going to the school for some interactive activities about recycling and the environment. Valle who recently started a homeschooling program and is now a principal of a school in Upper Egypt won’t hesitate to collaborate with Greenish again.

Learn more about Greenish through their Facebook page.

Photos: Courtesy of Greenish.

Eman is an editor, and a finance and startup ecosystem journalist.Eman El-Sherbiny
This Egyptian entrepreneur aims to combine waste managment with artisanship | The Switchers
Greenish Resource Efficiency & Sustainable Waste Management