They say that once you drink from the Nile, you are destined to return, but it makes it so challenging when there is a larger than life amount of plastic waste and garbage running in our ancient waters poisoning our soil with toxic waste. This is where Greenish Egypt comes in, the social business that aims to design and implement sustainable environmental solutions to schools, NGOs, retails and restaurants, allowing entities to save money, create new revenue streams and attract conscious green heart customers. They have executed programs with 3000 participants, and tens of entities. We’ve chatted with the astute high-spirited founder Shady Abdallah to tell us more about his business.
1. How and why did you come up with the idea of your business?
Medhat Benzoher and I came up with the idea to rotate around Egypt and hold workshops about the environment. We first introduced the idea on Facebook and people started telling us they’re ready to host us. We went to Aswan, Qusseir, Hamate, Siwa and Alexandria. We then realized that people are ready to receive awareness campaigns about the environment and that they are really impacted by it. That’s when we got inspired to leave our jobs and start Greenish.
2. What kind of services does Greenish offer?
We offer awareness campaigns and solutions for the various garbage issues. For example, we have Very Nile, a project focused on cleaning the Nile and the governorates around it. We’re manufacturing a boat for this. We also started to use the garbage to create other products that could be a means of profit for the fishermen there. Besides working with women in markets to avoid using plastic in their products, in return of marketing their products and delivering them to people’s doorstep. You can order vegetables, with zero plastic, and at the same time you’ll be helping the locals elevate their income.
3. What kind of organizations do you collaborate with?
We collaborate with organizations like the ones present today such as Scahduf and Educate Me. We worked on manuals together since our goals are mostly the same. We also have the Ministry of Environment with us. This helps our license and our on ground work. We try to provide fresh concepts, unlike the typical environment conferences, to engage people as much as possible. At first, it was hard to convince them to work with us. We had to work first and show them that we have working on ground models, even when people kept telling us that what we’re doing is useless and that we either need to find something of more use or work in corporates with CSR departments.
4. How do you fund you projects?
We use the profit from recycling the products or the services’ profit. We try as much as possible to create our own revenues to preserve suitability. But until we can stand on our own feet, we resort to CSR departments as sponsors.
5. What kind of workshops do you provide?
We provide workshops based on games to make people more aware of the environment. In the city, people tend to put themselves and their cars at the center of the universe without much focus on the environment. We, on the other hand, emphasize how their actions affect the environment in general, the animals, the sustainability of the universe and the quality of our lives and our children. Afterwards, we conduct workshops to turn waste into products. Through the workshops, they learn, have fun, meet new people and go home with the products they created so they could remember their experience.
6. What kind of challenges have you faced to launch your project?
We had so many challenges at the beginning because people were not convinced with what we do. They kept telling us things like it’s too early for environmental change in Egypt. We were also too young so they did not think we had much to add to the table. Another issue was with the data access. We do not have enough information about the amount or garbage for instance. Accordingly, we had to start researching from scratch. We now give data access to everyone so they do not waste too much time on research like we did.
7. Do you have any other ongoing projects?
Very Nile is ongoing. It is the first initiative to develop large scale means to clean the Nile while raising awareness on the importance to protect our environment. The team organizes cleaning events and develops eco-friendly solutions to remove trash from the river. In the summer, we’ll start working on the plastic waste in the sea. We’re also working to promote environmentally friendly travel by adding environmental sights to travel programs.
8. How efficient do you think your projects have been?
In the past three months, 8.5 tons of waste were removed from the Nile in Luxor and Cairo. We worked with 9000 workshop participants with different age brackets in 13 governorates.
9. What are your future expectations and aspirations?
Through the last 2 years, people started understanding that the environment is not a luxury which makes us more hopeful towards the future. There’s now the understanding that the environment highly affects the country’s economy and people’s health. We pay a lot of money to fix the harms done to the environment!
Follow their work on their Facebook page Greenish, and Instagram account @greenisheg
Feature image by: Remon Elmarkiz