Nov 01, 2021 by bljworldwide
Doha, Qatar – 30 October, 2021: Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation (QF RDI) has awarded its popular Innovation Coupon (IC) to high school student and Qatari innovator, Abdulaziz Elepsy. The grant will enable him to expand his sustainability-based initiative Tackling Textiles Together, one of the first initiatives of its kind in Qatar, that recycles old clothes and fabrics into new and fashionable items such as hats and bags, among others, to help reduce material waste. Some of the products sourced will be donated to developing countries and those where refugee crises exist. The scheme will also provide information and tutorials via videos on how to make small, but significant, changes at home to reduce waste and its harmful impact on the environment.
“My business is inspired by my desire to help my community, so that together we can make every necessary change possible to protect our environment by tackling textile waste,” Elepsy, a Grade 11 student at Qatar Academy Doha, a school under Qatar Foundation’s Pre-University Education, explained.
The IC program is targeted at individual Qatari entrepreneurs or Qatar-based early stage startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across all sectors and industries that are engaged in the development of new technology-based products and services. Along with grant funding, it is designed to provide the technical support needed to prototype their ideas and become market-ready. Since its launch two years ago, the fund has benefited 24 projects.
“Investing in ambitious, young entrepreneurs whose schemes aim to benefit local and global communities is a priority for us. Tackling Textiles Together is a perfect example of that. This small step in tackling textile waste has the potential to positively impact Qatar’s drive towards sustainability, as well as individuals who participate or benefit from the project,” commented Faiha Al-Qahtani and Saeed Al-Hajri from the Innovation Coupon team.
Explaining his motivation behind starting Tackling Textiles Together, Elepsy said: “I have always had a passion for style and fashion. Additionally, for as long as I can remember I have involved myself in arts and crafts at home. As my interest in textiles grew, largely due to the study of it at school, I did a lot of research and discovered the downside – the detrimental impact of discarded clothes and fabrics on our planet. I wouldn’t want to pursue my passion if it meant harming the environment, so after some thought, I came up with the idea of recycling fabrics and helping those less fortunate at the same time.”
Tackling Textiles Together will initially be a non-profit business, focusing on collecting donated fabrics to reduce waste while simultaneously aiding refugees in need, but there is a longer-term vision too: “In the long-term, I am hoping to turn this venture into a profit-making business whilst remaining true to our roots in sustainability and charity.” says Elepsy.
The young entrepreneur regards the recycling of fabrics as a major contribution to dealing with the issue of waste management by ensuring products do not end up in landfill sites or in our oceans. He also sees a host of advantages for the Qatari community and beyond: “In Qatar, we are primarily focused on recycling plastic – and we are doing an excellent job there. However, if we look closer, there is an opportunity to reduce textile waste. By taking old clothes and designing fashion forward items, I can help reduce the quantity of textiles that are being thrown away. I plan for my business to also assist communities outside of Qatar, for example in Afghanistan and other refugee communities, by providing much needed clothing and accessories.”
Earlier this year, after encouragement from his school teachers, Brett and Nicole Scott, Elepsy applied for the Innovation Coupon’s Young Minds edition, which is open to 16-24 year olds. He says the backing from QF RDI has helped him become a much more rounded person: “Aside from financial support, the IC team has provided me with exceptional entrepreneurial guidance and advice. As a result, I feel more confident in pushing myself to learn new skills every day. The IC has basically made me into a business owner, and I cannot thank the team enough.”
He continued: “I would also like to give my mother credit for the incredible level of support and interest, taking me to Souq Waqif to collect all the decorative accessories and fabrics for prototypes. She has taught me how to bargain to get the best prices. My parents are my biggest supporters as they have inspired me to work hard.”
Since he became a recipient of the IC, Elepsy has been heavily occupied with planning and production, achieving several key milestones. These include an official agreement with Qatar Charity to provide him with raw materials, sourcing two tailors to create hats and bags, and productive talks with tech developers to set up a company website. He also ran an exhibition from October 19 – 21 at Multaqa, Education City, where he showcased his project and products, and plans to set up a booth at Doha’s Torba farmer’s market, located in the Duhail area.
Providing some guiding words for other young innovators looking to make a positive impact in Qatar, Abdulaziz added: “If you would like to make a change, seek ways to do so. More than anything, follow your passion; be resilient, patient and accept advice from experts and those who support you. Always trust the process and never give up.”
IC provides three tiers of funding that aid applicants to gradually develop their idea and prepare to launch it into the market. Tier One is for individual applicants only, who have an idea but are unsure if it is feasible or if it needs refining. Tier Two is for those looking to understand how to take their ideas to market and begin exploring their business plan and value proposition. Tier Three is for those who recognize their business risks, understand their value proposition and already have a demo product. Both Tier Two and Tier Three are open to individuals, startups and SMEs.
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