Creating the space for great minds to innovate News

11 February, 2022

The Generating Revenue Opportunities for Women and Youth in the West Bank (GROW) Project is a 5-year initiative funded by the Government of Canada and managed by Cowater International. GROW aims to support economic and employment opportunities for low-income women and youth, particularly female youth, in the West Bank.

A key pillar of GROW’s development approach focuses on supporting the adoption of renewable energy (RE) by agri-businesses in the West Bank. To foster innovations in the renewable energy sector, GROW in partnership with Flow Accelerator organized a five-day AgRE-Minds hackathon in the summer of 2021. The main objective of this event was to give male and female youth participants the opportunity to conceptualize innovative RE solutions to address the challenges facing the agri-business sector. 28 females and 22 males participated in the hackathon, making up a total of 15 teams.

Local and international experts and mentors supported the participants in their learning journey toward creating customer-focused solutions as a starting point to conceptualizing a successful start-up opportunity. On Day 5 of the event, all 15 teams were given the floor to pitch their ideas in front of a jury. Ideas were evaluated based on a number of criteria comprising product concept, business viability and other factors. The winning teams would subsequently be given the chance to benefit from the business and prototype development phase.

Four teams began the incubation and seed funding phase for their idea.

  • Dreez is developing a device that uses solar panels to extend the shelf life of canned fruit for one to three years, while preserving their shape, taste, and nutritional value;
  • Ecogas – is working on a waste-to-biogas organic fertilizer conversion unit;
  • Agrilive is conceptualizing a high-tech platform specialized in smart fertigation that collects data through solar-powered Internet of Things (IoT) devices-sleeping nodes;
  • Fertilizer Pen is working on a modern technical agricultural solution aiming to give the optimum amount of fertilizer and irrigation needed for different types of plants.

The innovating, coaching, and exchange of ideas had a major impact on the winning teams.

AgRE-Minds hackathon closing event

Maysara from Agrilive shared her views: “Through the incubation, we were able to upgrade our prototype, adopt modern technologies, and assess the solution for one month with the assistance of Al Barakeh farms who allowed the solution to be used on a portion of their strawberry crops. So far, the results have been excellent. The crops have been healthy, growing at the expected rate, and producing adequate quantities of produce.”

Maryam from the same team added: “We now have a better understanding of renewable energy, particularly solar energy. We apply this knowledge to the AgriLive solution and are planning to apply it to other ideas as well, such as the Electric Powered Wireless Valve concept that we are currently trying to conceptualize.”

Jamileh from Ecogas said, “I will begin using renewable energy in my business, which is a fruit dehydrating operation that is too expensive to run using traditional energy generation methods but becomes extremely profitable when renewable energy is used.”  Following the hackathon, members of the Ecogas team participated in a variety of entrepreneurship-related activities. For instance, Rushdi and Awad won second place in Palestine Technopark’s agricultural hackathon, titled ’Cocreate My Future’, with the Ecowater pitch. Jamileh, another member of the Ecogas team, took part in a Kuwaiti government-sponsored training in Jordan on how to build a startup.

Ibrahim from Fertilizer Pen mentioned, “I now recognize the importance of sustainability and preservation. Generating renewable energy alone is not the complete solution to solving power issues around the world, but that preservation also plays a substantial role.” Safa’ was also part of the Fertilizer Pen team, and as a result of the new knowledge that she gained in the hackathon, she was invited to participate in a renewable energy training program in Romania.

Clean, locally designed and affordable renewable energy solutions offer the West Bank and countries around the world the chance to achieve their economic, social, environmental, and climate objectives. GROW prioritizes youth engagement in supporting the use of renewable energy. Ensuring access to clean energy for all is essential to enhancing opportunities for female and youth entrepreneurs to adopt renewable energy solutions in target value chains and sub-sectors.

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