PepsiCo Announces Winners of ‘Social Impact Competition’ as Sustainability Key to the Future of the MENA Region

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  • Competition’s US$20,000 prize money is split between winners Napata (US$10,000), and runners-up Green ALAFCO (US$6,000) and Pathfinder (US$4,000)
  • Runners-up from Tunisia and Lebanon collect cash prizes, as well as mentorship to scale their social enterprises
  • Competition, in partnership with Wamda, celebrates social start-ups that sustainably deliver profitability and make a difference in MENA and in the world
  • Winners’ announcement follows a competitive pitch of 10 finalists

pepsico-logoAmman, Jordan: An innovative sustainability project that manufactures handmade and traditional products from palm waste has won first prize at the ‘PepsiCo Social Impact Competition’, an initiative for social enterprise start-ups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Napata, based in Egypt, recycles palm waste and turns it into handmade, eco-friendly traditional products that capture the Nubian identity and culture. Napata was awarded first prize of US$10,000, giving the enterprise vital funding to scale, create social impact and attract further investor support. Two other projects, Green ALAFCO from Tunisia, and Pathfinder from Lebanon, came second and third, respectively. Each won US$6,000 and US$4,000. Green ALAFCO recycles aluminum used beverage cans. Pathfinder helps visually impaired people to discover their surroundings hands-free using an app. As well as the cash prizes, the winners, along with the other finalists, will receive skills-building mentorship, investor matchmaking support, and access to influential networks through social entrepreneurship platform Wamda.

Organised by PepsiCo, in partnership with Wamda, the ‘PepsiCo Social Impact Competition’ promotes, rewards and celebrates social start-up enterprises from the Arab world that deliver profitability in a sustainable way. The competition recognises start-up entrepreneurs who develop innovative solutions that extend beyond profitability and include social responsibility and environmental impact.

The ‘PepsiCo Social Impact Competition’ is fully aligned with ‘Performance with Purpose’ – a pioneering vision, launched by PepsiCo in 2006, that is rooted in the fundamental belief that business success is inextricably linked to the sustainability of the world we share. Building on ‘Performance with Purpose’, PepsiCo recently launched the ‘2025 Sustainability Agenda’, designed to foster continued business growth in a way that responds to changing consumer and societal needs. The initiatives under the new agenda are aimed at creating shareholder value while, at the same time, taking important steps to address environmental, health and societal priorities all over the world. They are aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

In the final round of the ‘PepsiCo Social Impact Competition’, a panel of distinguished judges chose the winner and two runners-up following a competitive pitch of social enterprise start-up ideas from 10 teams. The enterprises had to be operational start-ups from MENA that could demonstrate a positive, quantifiable and sustainable social impact related to one of the three pillars of sustainability – health and wellness, environmental preservation and talent.

The prizes were presented to the winners by Mustafa Shamseldin, Vice-President, Sales and New Business Development, MENA, PepsiCo, and Noha Hefny, Director of Corporate Affairs, MENA, PepsiCo. Both congratulated Napata, Green ALAFCO and Pathfinder and paid tribute to the high standard of entries.

“This is the first ‘PepsiCo Social Impact Competition’. The entrants’ energy and creativity, fused with social purpose and business acumen, show that, in MENA, social enterprise can be a game-changer for the challenges that face the region. In designing the competition, in partnership with Wamda, our objective was to strengthen the ecosystem of social entrepreneurs in the region and raise awareness of delivering profitability by integrating sustainability into the business model. This is our way of celebrating talent in a region so fundamental to PepsiCo’s success globally while, at the same time, promoting a sustainability agenda that aligns business and social purpose,” said Shamseldin.

Addressing the gathering of social entrepreneurs, Hefny encouraged them to stay focused on their business purpose while, at the same time, finding ways to create social value.

“Authentic leadership is about staying true to yourself and holding fast to the values you cherish. On the journey of social entrepreneurship, there will be times of triumph and struggle. But the guiding light must always be your values and the belief that you can make a difference in the world. PepsiCo believes in making that difference. By integrating sustainability into the business model, we can improve the world we share and create more opportunities for social and economic development, including in MENA,” said Hefny.  

The PepsiCo Social Impact Competition received a variety of entries – from home-cooked food to aluminum recycling; from crowdsourcing for education programmes to powering water-heaters using the sun; from protecting children from sexual abuse to helping the visually impaired to get around using technology. But the Egyptian team that showed how to craft traditional products from palm waste won first prize in a highly competitive field of finalists.

According to the World Economic Forum, the MENA region has the highest rate of youth unemployment in the world at over 27%. The region is severely affected by other challenges such as water scarcity, education and skills gaps, lifestyle-related diseases, and political and economic instability.

Kamel Al-Asmar, Head of Communications and Community Engagement at Wamda, congratulated the winners. “Wamda was delighted to partner with PepsiCo in celebrating the talent of our start-up social entrepreneurs. The competition gave them an opportunity to develop their skills, grow their network, gain exposure, and scale their social ventures. It created awareness of the importance of delivering profitability in a sustainable way by integrating social and environmental purpose into the business model. Over the past weeks, Wamda has worked with the 10 finalists on training, coaching and feedback, ahead of the pitch session at AMWAJ. Their ideas are inspirational. Their capacity to effect positive social change is unlimited, provided they get the right encouragement and support. That is what the ‘PepsiCo Social Impact Competition’ is all about, and Wamda is proud to be a partner,” said Mr Al-Asmar.

The ‘PepsiCo Social Impact Competition’ received 108 entries from across the MENA region. From these entrants, 10 finalists were chosen to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts at AMWAJ. These finalists were Bifforan, Build MENA, Green ALAFCO, Junkbot, Nafhan, Napata, Not Guilty, Pathfinder, SEP Jordan and Shamsina. Below are the winners.

First Prize

Social Enterprise: Napata

Origin Country: Egypt

Cash Prize: US$10,000

Second Prize

Social Enterprise: Green ALAFCO

Origin Country: Tunisia

Cash Prize: US$6,000

Third Prize

Social Enterprise: Pathfinder

Origin Country: Lebanon

Cash Prize: US$4,000   

About PepsiCo:

PepsiCo products are enjoyed by consumers one billion times a day in more than 200 countries and territories around the world. PepsiCo generated more than $63 billion in net revenue in 2015, driven by a complementary food and beverage portfolio that includes Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Pepsi-Cola, Quaker and Tropicana. PepsiCo’s product portfolio includes a wide range of enjoyable foods and beverages, including 22 brands that generate more than $1 billion each in estimated annual retail sales.

At the heart of PepsiCo is Performance with Purpose – our fundamental belief that the success of our company is inextricably linked to the sustainability of the world around. We believe that continuously improving the products we sell, operating responsibly to protect our planet and empowering people around the world is what enables PepsiCo to run a successful global company that creates long-term value for society and our shareholders.

About Wamda:

Wamda is a platform of integrated programs that aims to accelerate entrepreneurship ecosystems throughout the MENA region. Its core focus is media, community development, research and corporate and government advisory services. In the past few years, Wamda has become the leading grassroots community and knowledge platform for entrepreneurs and supporting stakeholders.