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Lebanon’s Garbaliser secures $436,000 investment

Lebanon

Lebanon’s Garbaliser secures $436,000 investment for regional and global expansion. Garbaliser’s patented liquid fertiliser, which is proven to produce not only cleaner produce but also at a larger capacity than chemical fertilisers. It is beesold regularly to over 400 clients in Lebanon’s Baalbek area, where the company was founded. After securing a partnership in the UAE and funding from Shark Tank Dubai, the company is now expanding its operation to the UAE market in 2024, with further plans to expand to Jordan and the GCC.

Founded in 2020, Garbaliser is the brainchild of sisters Hanan and Zeinab Ismail. The sisters set out to find a solution to Lebanon’s burgeoning garbage problem, which was at its all-time worst during the COVID-19 lockdown and the height of the Lebanese economic crisis.

The project started when the sisters wanted to tackle the garbage issue at its source, the trash cans of houses and businesses, by creating a garbage disposal system where people could separate their trash. After much research, they did not find support for the idea – especially in the political and economic climate of that time.

However, this challenge did not deter the sisters – during their experimentation with organic waste collection, they learned on the job how to create organic fertiliser from bio-waste to make compost. However, upon further investigation, they found that compost is challenging to use in large-scale farming due to its state of matter as dirt, which makes it challenging to mix into irrigation systems. Through their patented invention, they managed to turn this organic waste into a liquid fertiliser, allowing farmers to directly add it to their irrigation systems and thus maximise its use.

After securing an initial client base for their fertiliser, the Ismail sisters revisited their initial idea of the garbage separator, but with fertiliser as an added option. They started selling their separating system, ‘al-Hadum’ (The Digestor), which enables users to separate their organic and non-organic waste for Garbaliser to collect and turn into fertiliser. The clients then also get discounted rates for the liquid fertiliser. Garbaliser also teamed up with two other startups in Lebanon: Zero Waste, which recycles the non-organic materials collected, and Dekkanet El-Nes, an organic grocery store where people can buy non-packaged food for which they get reward points.

Training & Business Development

Despite growing up in an agricultural environment, neither Hanan nor Zeinab had experience or studied in the field. Hanan has a bachelor’s degree in banking & finance and a master’s degree in marketing. She is currently pursuing her PhD in economics, while Zeinab is an electrical engineer.

After their introduction to the entrepreneurship world, they joined Jusoor’s Agriculture Small Business Accelerator in 2022, starting out as a minimally viable project. It was during that phase that Garbaliser started to develop prototypes of their invention; first starting out in their own home and then moving to a larger 10,000-litre tank on their grandfather’s farm. The accelerator also helped them develop their business model, and learn how to pitch and present their story.

Jusoor was the first programme we participated in that conducted the program entirely in Arabic so we could grasp all the concepts presented. I struggled with English before so I would only really get 60–70% of what was being said.  But with Jusoor, everything was accessible,” Hana Ismail says

Expansion & Global Perspective

The company’s original goal was to expand slowly inside Lebanon, reaching more regions gradually while maintaining its operations and system. However, upon their participation in Dubai Expo 2020 and COP28 in Dubai, the founders found themselves in the heart of the global market – with a lot of interest in their product from businesses and governments all over the world, as well as investment and partnership offers.

“It made us realise the value of our business and how important it is to have space for entrepreneurs and innovation in any society,” Hanan Ismail says, commenting on their participation in COP28.

It was in Dubai that they met their UAE partner, Reem Al-Marzouki, an inventor who was creating a method of turning bio-waste into clean drinking water. They put their hands together and pitched their product on Shark Tank Dubai in December 2023, where they got a double investment offer of AED1.6 million for 12% of their company. In 2023, they also secured an investment from Ground Up Capital Fund in the USA.

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