UAE start-up Nadeera given $100,000 PepsiCo grant to boost circular economy solution

Waste management company will use funding to grow its business and promote more sustainability projects

Rabih El Chaar, chief executive and co-founder of Nadeera (second left), receiving the Greenhouse Accelerator Programme award from Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment (second right), and Aamer Sheikh, chief executive for the Middle East at PepsiCo (left). Photo: PepsiCo
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Nadeera, a waste management start-up in the UAE, has received a $100,000 grant from PepsiCo's regional accelerator programme to boost the development of its business.

The start-up was recognised for its Yalla Return circular economy initiative — which is the first trash-for-cash system in the Middle East and North Africa that gives customers cash rewards based on the quantity of recyclables they turn in, PepsiCo said in a statement on Friday.

Nadeera will also receive membership to Food Tech Valley, the Dubai-based centre that develops sustainable farming methods to boost the UAE's food security agenda, inclusion in the Arab Youth Start-up Marketplace and access to partners of the Arab Youth Council.

PepsiCo's first Greenhouse Accelerator Programme for the Mena region was launched in November, and the company teamed up with the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and Food Tech Valley for the first iteration. It recognises the potential of start-ups in making the F&B sector more sustainable.

“Start-ups have always been known to rise to the challenge, innovate fearlessly and break the mould, particularly in the face of rising global challenges like sustainability," said Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment.

"The initiative aligns with the UAE’s drive to shift towards a circular economy and is another example of how great ideas can come through open innovation and collaboration."

Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment. Photo: PepsiCo

A circular economy is an economic system that focuses on reducing the extraction of natural resources, minimising waste and regenerate natural systems. Raw materials, components and products keep their value for as long as possible, while renewable energy sources are used in a circular economy.

The global waste management market size is projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 6.2 per cent and hit almost $1.7 billion by 2030, from an estimated $990bn in 2021, according to Grand View Research.

The UAE has launched several initiatives to support the circular economy.

The UAE's circular economy policy identifies the country’s priorities, which include infrastructure, sustainable transportation, manufacturing, food production and consumption.

Last October, the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy also launched the Circular Economy Committee to bring public and private entities together and develop actionable initiatives to boost current applications and introduce best international practices.

PepsiCo's accelerator programme is also aligned with the objectives of the recently concluded Expo 2020 Dubai, the Cop27 and Cop28 summits and the Saudi Green Initiative, all of which are focusing on promoting sustainability as a critical part of the economy, said Aamer Sheikh, chief executive for the Middle East at PepsiCo.

"This is a great example of how open innovation and collaboration can create value for multiple stakeholders," he said.

Nadeera, which was started in 2020, said the PepsiCo funding and mentorship from its partners would help the company grow its business and "overcome many hurdles".

"From changing consumer mindsets to overcoming challenges related to capital, resources and network, we have a long way to go ... multinational companies, the public sector and start-ups have a lot to gain from each other," the start-up's chief executive and co-founder Rabih El Chaar said.

Updated: October 07, 2022, 9:21 AM