The concept can strike some as contradictory, almost surrealist. However, Greeners, a company founded by the dental students Lina Zahayka, Noor Daraghmeh, Haytham Sharabati, and the Multimedia student Tasneem Khamayseh, is creating a product that turns CO2 emmitted by factories into an eco-friendly clean fertilizer farmers can use without damaging their soil.
The founders of Greeners are, like all young people today, worried about the nefast effects climate change will have on our livelihoods. They joined the Hult Prize program, which tasks student entrepreneurs with solving a specific problem. The Hult Prize provides entrepreneurs with invaluable advice, mentorship and resources, which the Greeners’ founders have said was a key factor in their success. Hult then funds the most innovative start-ups to come out of the challenge. For Greener’s 2020 cohort, the Hult Prize asked participants to create a company solving a climate-related issue.
Hitting two birds with one stone
Greeners decided to solve two problems at once. On top of their product’s environmental impact, they noticed that Palestinian farmers were often hindered by their overreliance on Israeli fertilizer. This led to farmers paying for products that were often expensive due to import taxes, as well as damaging to their crops. By creating a eco-friendly Palestinian based fertilizer company, Greeners provides Palestinian farmers with an alternative that is not only cheaper, but also healthier for their produce.
How it works
In order to create their fertilizer, Greeners buy CO2 in gas form from factories that emit them. Those factories have an incentive to capture and sell the CO2 they emit, as many of those factories get taxed on their pollution following the Paris Climate Accords. After recuparating the CO2, Greeners mixes it with water and minerals to create a viable and clean fertilizer. The company is currently working on getting their proprietary fabrication process patented.
Greeners produces some of the most popular fertilizers on the market, which it then sells to farmers as well as individuals growing produce in their backyards. One of the company’s main selling points is that it produces some of the most popular fertilizers in gas form, whilst Israeli companies only offer those products in solid form. Greeners offers more than 10 types of fertilizers, and is working on more. On top of that, Greeners is developing an Arabic mobile application to help farmers and growers gage exactly how much of the fertilizer they need to use on their produce.
Achievements and goals
After having a rough start due to some issues with the initial team, Greeners found their cruising altitude and are now as united as ever. They started back in 2019, brainstorming, prototyping and recently recording some of their first sales. They’ve made more than $1,800 in revenue, and plan to open up their first factory soon. The founders have stated that some of the pushback comes from all of the different permits the company needs, which it is working on clearing. The Hult Prize has seen the potential in the company, recently investing $100,000 for Greeners to start expanding their production and conquer the Palestinian market. The money should last them around 5 months, after which they hope to have gained enough traction to raise a more substantial round. In terms of market opportunity, Greeners is already eying the promising Egyptian and Turkish agricultural sectors. Their technology was validated by the the National Agricultural Research Center in Jenin, which called the fertilizer a “great innovation”.
Thoughts on the Palestinian entrepreneurial ecosystem
Greeners is one of many emerging Palestinian start-ups that are showing promising and scaleable ideas, which together makeup for a fast growing ecosystem. Greeners says that the Hult Prize was instrumental in their success, providing mentorship, advice and obviously a crucial early investment. The Greeners founders do have some thoughts on how to improve the ecosystem; they state that one of the main challenges faced by Palestinian start-ups is the very little runway they have during the early stages, as a result of scarce capital and a complicated regulatory system. Greeners claims they had to put the business on pause at some point as a result of legal difficulties with obtaining all of the necessary permits. All in all however, Greeners has shown extraordinary grit, resilience, but also a completely visionary product that can simultaneously reduce emissions while making agriculture cleaner.
Connect with Greeners’ founder Lina Zahayka on LinkedIn by clicking here.
Learn more about the Hult Prize by visiting their website here.
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