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Arab Youth Hackathon Invites Young MENA Innovators to Find Solutions for Pressing Climate Challenges

by Eddie Rayner

PepsiCo and the Arab Youth Centre (AYC) have opened applications for young Arab innovators to apply for the Arab Youth Hackathon, a regional entrepreneurship programme 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.

PepsiCo, PepsiCo Foundation, and Arab Youth Centre seek applications from UAE, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt

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 two to three participants aged between 18 to 35 years of age, with at least one member 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.

Three winners will be announced during COP28 in Dubai and receive seed funds worth $30,000, $20,000, and $10,000, respectively

The proposed solutions will be assessed and selected based on their innovation and 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 well-being.

The finals 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 participate in 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 behaviour 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.”

Sadeq Jarrar, Executive Director – Arab Youth Centre 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 Centre, 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.”

Interested participants can submit their entries at arabyouthhackathon.com.