You probably heard about the waste crisis that Lebanon went through in 2015 and the negative effects it started having on the Lebanese people’s health. There were literally mountains and rivers of garbage accumulating all across the country. The country has been in a “garbage crisis” for over five years; people started burning waste on the streets, and concerns about a “national health crisis” were rising. The urgency of the situation saw the rise of many initiatives to salvage the country from sinking in waste. Many entrepreneurs were stimulated by the crisis to innovate new ways to eliminate the waste. One such initiative was that of the social enterprise Compost Baladi SAL.
What started as a traditional local composting for residential buildings and schools, later evolved to include the development and sales of technologies for the sustainable management of organic wastes and wastewater, as well as the sales of different types of soil amendments.
Following the success of their first initiative, Antoine Abou-Moussa, an environmental engineer with degrees in chemistry and social entrepreneurship, founded the team of Compost Baladi SAL. The startup is an innovative Lebanese social business with a clear mission to promote the recovery of valuable resources from biowaste. One of their latest inventions is “CubeX”, which can treat sewage and solid organic waste while simultaneously producing irrigation water, soil fertilizer, and cooking gas.
The startup came across the Arab Startup Competition which is annually organized by MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab and decided to participate in its 12th Edition. Not only did they benefit from the intensive 2-day Bootcamp that the competition organizes with top-tier trainers from different industries, but they also managed to qualify to the final round and ended up winning first place in the Social Entrepreneurship track.
Armed with the knowledge and experience that they gained from the competition, Compost Baladi SAL were able to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic by constantly encouraging its team members to stay positive and adapt to the new changes enforced by the situation. Yet again, they found great opportunity in the crisis and have been looking to expand their operations in the Middle East and South America, to countries sharing similar environmental challenges as those found in Lebanon.
When we asked Antoine what piece of advice he would give to future entrepreneurs, he said “To always innovate with empathy, solve real human problems, and find solutions using the tech knowledge we have today.”
Compost Baladi’s team is a true testament that there is always hope in times of crisis, and that in those times are when the greatest opportunities arise. The key to success is having both a solution-oriented mindset and the right amount of positive energy.