TheSwitchersFund OSCE GEMS Award was created to reward and encourage green and social initiatives from young people of the Mediterranean region. The 1st edition was held in Vienna on April 26th, organised by OSCE, FEBEA and SCP/RAC. The winners, male and female under 35 years old, were selected among 240 applications -30% of which were presented by women entrepreneurs- with innovative green ideas from the six participant countries: Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia, and they are just an example of how young people, aware and committed to their environment, are developing new solutions to make green and social impact in their countries. TheSwitchersFund is a joint initiative of the UN Environment MAP Sustainable Consumption and Production Regional Activity Center (SCP/RAC) & the European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks and Financiers (FEBEA) to support the growth of innovative green businesses in the Mediterranean. Ambassador Alessandro Azzoni, Chairperson of the OSCE Permanent Council, explained that the idea for an award for young entrepreneurs emerged last year during the Mediterranean Contact Group Meeting.
“There are too many words and not enough concrete projects here at the OSCE,” Azzoni explained. “We are hoping that the concrete business ideas by the young entrepreneurs will help to improve security and stability in the Mediterranean region,” he added.
During the ceremony, the Ambassadors of all target countries showed their strong support to this initiative aimed at achieving a positive environmental impact, because there is no better investment to secure the future of the Mediterranean region.
TheSwitchersFund is the platform that makes possible the connection between Financiers and Investors and Innovators, making a switch to a green, circular and social economy in the Mediterranean countries. For TheSwitchersFund, the award is very important because it is about extending to the Mediterranean the idea that finance can be a force for good of societal progress that improves the lives of people who are trying to change the world in a more positive way and the environment they live in. At SwitchMed we are convinced that these opportunities are the best way to create peace and stability in the region.
The prize of EUR 15,000 for each one of the winners can be used to adopt new technologies, processes or production methods, but also hopes to be a motivation for more young people like them, with innovative ideas that could be transformed into a long-lasting business.
“In order to capitalize on this potential and ensure their social integration, we need to encourage young people’s participation in the economy, making it a high priority for all those who care about the prosperity, security and stability of the Mediterranean”.Mr. Thomas Germinger, OSCE General Secretary.
Yakir Tadmor, Soumia Hasnaoui, Oussama Boussada, Mr. Alessandro Azzoni (Italian Ambassador), Mr. Thomas Germinger (the OSCE General Secretary), Yara Yassine, Gian-luca Gasparini (replacing Monji Kaddousi), Lina Al-kurdi.
It is a great pleasure to see the contribution of youth to green economy, we can imagine the countless obstacles they have faced to transform those ideas into a sustainable business. As Claudia Pani, TheSwitchersFund Project Manager, said: “Preserving the environment is giving hope to youth”. To know more about the six young entrepreneurs, we kindly invite you to go to their websites, but you can find a brief mention of them and their projects below:
- Oussama Boussada, from Algeria, transform discarded dates into new and healthy foods with his project Rima Dates.
- Yara Yassin and Up-fuse convert waste into fashion in Egypt.
- Lina Murad AL-Kurdi, from Jordan, sees gardens where others just see roofs and launched Green Roof as a project that aims to reduce energy loss and improve air quality, through the insulation of buildings.
- Soumia Hasnaoui is a Moroccan electrical engineering that saves energy while giving an eco-twist to traditional cooking
- YakirTadmor, from Israel, turn sunlight into clean and affordable energy, working on an innovative prototype Solar Living System capable of supplying neighbourhood electricity, hot water and shade.
- Monji Kaddousi is a young entrepreneur from Tunisia, that brings goat herding into the 21st century with his social enterprise TADHAMEN, improving the profitability and productivity of local goat herds by genetic cross-breeding with pure, high-producing breeds of meat and milk.
Check out these photos taken during the event at this link
TheSwitchersFund look forward to the next year’s edition and would like to congratulate the winners of the first one for their prize, but also for daring to see things differently and for believing that a better and more sustainable world is possible.
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