This story is provided by MIT Enterprise Forum - Pan-Arab Region.
Lebanese “CoolCash” has been selected as one of the semi-finalist teams for this year’s MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab Region Start-Up Competition for the Idea’s Track.
CoolCash is a web-based platform that aims to bridge the gap between e-waste producers and recyclers in the e-waste value chain through a simple process. It facilitates the collection of electronic waste by allowing users to earn money through collecting and sending their used printers, mobile phones, laptops, and small electronics. CoolCash also develops educational and community-related programs to raise awareness on the environmental, health and social concerns related to the disposal of e-waste.
Living in a big family, Mohamad Tarhini realized that each one of his family owes a mobile phone, one laptop and an iPod with a tendency to frequent changes with latest electronic devices out in the market. Consequently, the house is becoming full of unused electronic devices that eventually find their way to trash bins. Undertaking a simple research in the MENA region, he was shocked to learn the absence of comprehensive e-waste recycling programs in many countries. What seemed to be missing is a simple, efficient and incentivized process to collect e-waste from end-users and provide it to recyclers. This inspired him to start CoolCash where consumers can dispose their unwanted electronics in a safe and eco-friendly manner while earning cash in return.
Later on, his observation became a “family business” run with Jamila, his wife and Ali, his brother who were discussing the status and challenges of e-waste over lunch and then decided to try designing this project together.
Problem addressed and solution
Despite the fact that the e-waste market in MENA region, estimated at USD 1 billion in 2012, is expected to continue growing at an average of 13% in the coming 5 years, e-waste management systems, collection zones and recycling facilities are almost non-existent in the region. Social and environmental awareness among the public is still very limited. Moreover, electronic waste is believed to be the illegally traded toxic hazardous in the world.
CoolCash tackles the main challenges related to e-waste in the MENA region. The project aims to alleviate the environmental and health concerns related to the disposal of e-waste by facilitating the collection and recycling processes. Raising awareness on e-waste hazards is expected to be a key preliminary step in ensuring development and efficient implementation of national or regional management waste programs.
In the initial phase, CoolCash will be establishing the business processes in Lebanon by founding the IT infrastructure, collecting facilities, securing a warehouse and creating strong relationships with e-waste recyclers and shipment companies. CoolCash is intending to expand the project in the high e-waste density markets such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Advice for entrepreneurs
“Being a part of one of the most prestigious business plan competitions in the Arab world is the best and most efficient way to start a business. The diverse network, training and coaching sessions and the final awards are few among other benefits any entrepreneur shouldn’t miss”CoolCash said.
The team advises entrepreneurs not to give up on their revolutionary dreams “Focus and persistence are the key words for any entrepreneur. There is a need for a change in the mindset to quickly adapt to the revolutionary changes in technology, logistics and communications globally and locally” was the conclusion.
Find out more about CoolCash by:
Watching a 1 minute video pitch about their project here
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