Entrepreneurs Lead the Way to a Green Future
Who is better positioned than an entrepreneur, who creates a product or service that helps communities and at the same time tackles environmental problems?
‘I love what I do – so nothing can stop me’. Pierre is a Lebanese entrepreneur, who is cleaning the country and by doing so, he is also making money from waste. Sounds simple, is very much needed and yet not that easy. He said this to me in Amman, Jordan, while we were discussing financials and the expansion of his business. Pierre and nine other young female and male entrepreneurs, some of them with their teams, are part of the Green Accelerator Middle East (GA-ME) – the first regional accelerator focused on scaling environmental enterprises and impact. We are almost at the end of an 8-month programme, during which we conduct in-depth enterprise analysis, develop and refine financing and business strategies, leverage micro-investments and facilitate investment matchmaking. But let’s not call it the end, it is rather one in a thousand big steps these entrepreneurs take to build a business and bring about change.
I’ve lived in the Middle East for more than 10 years, since my master studies in water management. I always loved the culture, the people, and the environment. The scarcity of resources, such as water and arable land, is a serious threat to the region, and this fact has always motivated me to find and implement solutions that can help people and ecosystems live sustainably. But I am more practical than this might sound; I realized over time, through numerous jobs and projects, how difficult it is to create solutions that bring tangible and lasting improvements. I worked in academia, NGOs, and as a freelancer, but struggled to find the right entry point. Things felt too slow, too far away from the ground and the actual needs of the people. And these sectors are rather traditional and resistant to change, so one needs to take more risk and self-initiation to achieve something impactful.
Who is better positioned than an entrepreneur, who creates a product or service that helps communities and at the same time tackles environmental problems? These people are still a rather rare species, but fortunately growing, in number and in impact. And to my personal excitement with an almost equal representation of women. My organisation, cewas, is focusing all its efforts on providing customized technical and business support to green entrepreneurs, facilitate the development of financing instruments relevant to green sectors, develop respective markets and motivate young people to develop environmental solutions. Over the last five years our team, the entrepreneurs, and our partners have come a long way, considering that in some countries we started from scratch. For me, the main inspiration and learning lies in the day-to-day work with entrepreneurs. Most of them are examples of passion and perseverance, although support from society, readiness of markets, and commitment of teams and partners are often missing or challenging to get. Our team is living the same entrepreneurial mindset and seeks to constantly develop new instruments through which we can help scale solutions, such as the Green Accelerator Middle East. Being surrounded by people that are taking actions and sharing this spirit is what drives us forward.
About the Author
Middle East Program
The Wilson Center’s Middle East Program serves as a crucial resource for the policymaking community and beyond, providing analyses and research that helps inform U.S. foreign policymaking, stimulates public debate, and expands knowledge about issues in the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Read more
Middle East Women's Initiative
The Middle East Women's Initiative (MEWI) promotes the empowerment of women in the region through an open and inclusive dialogue with women leaders from the Middle East and continuous research. Read more