• PepsiCo, PepsiCo Foundation, and Arab Youth Center seek applications from Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Jordan
• Three winners will be announced during COP28 in Dubai and receive seed funds worth $30,000, $20,000, and $10,000, respectively
Cairo, Egypt – 9 August 2023 – PepsiCo and the Arab Youth Center have opened applications for young Arab innovators to apply for the Arab Youth Hackathon, a regional entrepreneurship program aimed at creating smarter solutions to climate-related issues in the areas of agriculture, circular economy, water security, and renewable energy and efficiency.
According to recent research , 65% of Gen Z members in MENA are concerned about the world, but a higher proportion – 66% are hopeful about the change they can deliver. 50% are also actively striving to make a change through social, political, or environmental means.
The hackathon will run in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon, and is seeking applicants including university students and early-stage entrepreneurs who either are looking to ideate or have a preliminary existing idea at the testing phase, which will evolve during the hackathons. Candidates must apply in teams of 2 to 3 participants and are to be within 18 to 35 years of age. Each team must have at least one member who is older than 21 years.
Once the shortlist of teams has been selected, PepsiCo, PepsiCo Foundation, Plug and Play and AYC will host a three-day local hackathon, providing mentorship and curated workshops to transfer knowledge to the participants. In Egypt, the hackathon will be held from the 22nd to the 24th of September in Cairo.
The proposed solutions will be assessed and selected based on their innovation and must be financially feasible and scalable. A panel of experts will evaluate the entries based on their sustainability alignment, ability to reduce emissions, and the magnitude of impact on areas under the four pillars of the competition (Water, Agriculture, Climate, Circular economy) such as climate change, energy, circular economy, deforestation, green transformation, soil fertility, waste management, water scarcity, and marine environment wellbeing and others.
The final of the competition, featuring 15 of the most promising solutions from the five countries, will take place during December, in Dubai. The three best innovators will receive an equity-free seed fund from the PepsiCo Foundation to launch their businesses, worth $30,000 for the winner, $20,000 for the runner-up, and $10,000 for the second runner-up. In addition, they will attend a five-month incubation program that will help them develop and scale their groundbreaking ideas and ensure long-term success.
Eugene Willemsen, CEO – Africa, Middle East and South Asia at PepsiCo said, “Young people are comfortable in a world of dialogue and collaboration, and uniquely motivated to contribute to solutions to climate-related issues. They also have the power to influence behavior in their communities and urge policymakers to tackle environmental challenges. This year, through tangible investment and collaborative action, PepsiCo is advancing COP28’s goal to promote youth engagement in climate action. We are committed to diversity in thought, perspective, and action to move the needle in ways we haven’t imagined before, and the Arab Youth Hackathon harnesses the power of collaboration to channel this potential in tangible and measurable ways.”
Mohamed Shelbaya, CEO of PepsiCo North Africa said, “Years ago, we debuted the Egypt 2030 Hackathon stemming from our belief in the potential of younger generations to create transformative impact through innovation. Today, we are brimming with pride as the initiative expands to foster more innovative minds from the wider region as part of the Arab Youth Hackathon. We are committed to creating a world where the youth’s journey intertwines with our own, resulting in a brighter and more sustainable tomorrow.”
Mr. Sadeq Jarrar, Executive Director – Arab Youth Center said, “We are thrilled to begin accepting applications for the Arab Youth Hackathon in anticipation of COP28. We heavily prioritise and promote climate action at the Arab Youth Center, and always strive to formulate impactful initiatives to engage Arab youth in thinking about the future of our world. As a means to highlight Arab youth sustainable ingenuity across the MENA region, we look forward to seeing the results of the Hackathon and the solutions our applicants propose.”
“At the Arab Youth Center, we wholeheartedly believe in the power that youth hold when they mobilise and voice their opinions to collaborate. Through this initiative, we hope to foster a culture of leadership among Arab youth for the betterment of future generations.” Mr. Jarrar continued.
Private sector initiatives, especially those involving youth, play a key role in supporting COP28’s outlined sustainability goals. The Hackathon will be supported by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) and the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) along with PepsiCo and the Arab Youth Center. Plug and Play, known for accelerating innovation across a wide network of accelerators, industry-leading corporations, and venture capitalists globally, will also lend its expertise to help bring the program to life in MENA.
Karima El Hakim, Plug and Play Egypt Country Director said, “As one of the most active global investors in sustainability, we hope to continue to support young Arab and Egyptian innovators to play an active role in bringing sustainable solutions to climate challenges. I look forward to work with our partners and stakeholders in Egypt ans the region to source innovative solutions be it at an ideation or MVP stage.”
The Arab Youth Hackathon is open for applications until September 9th in Egypt. Interested participants can find out more and submit their entries at arabyouthhackathon.com