27 October 2021

3 Stories of Social and Climate Action in the Mediterranean

Is it possible to create jobs, foster inclusive growth and promote social inclusion – all while tackling some of the most pressing issues of our time? 

From a 20% reduction in waste in Lebanon to bringing bikes back to the roads of Tunisia; from making communities more resilient to natural disasters in Morocco to reintegrating the rural landscapes back to the touristic routes of Jordan – these are just some of the solutions proposed by the social enterprises that participated in the MedUP! Program proving that yes, it is possible.

MedUP! Promoting social entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean region

Since March 2018, Impact Hub alongside other partners has been supporting Oxfam Italia in an EU-funded initiative called MedUP! Promoting social entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean region. The aim of this 4-year program is to promote an enabling environment all over the targeted region for the development of the entrepreneurial sector as a driver for inclusive growth and job creation

Throughout the MedUP! journey, 64 impact-led ventures from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia have been supported – financially, technically and by means of valuable networking activities. Most of these social enterprises’ work is targeted at advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – especially SDGs 8-Decent work & economic growth, 10-Reduced inequalities, and 4-Quality education – and including underserved groups, namely youth, people with disabilities and women. 

MedUP!’s participants have also created more than 130 new jobs in the past three years and 100% of their ventures are scalable. This means that they have room to grow and the potential to impact even more lives and communities

Get to know some of the inspiring businesses that are strengthening the social innovation ecosystem in the Mediterranean region:

Compost Baladi: Reducing organic waste in Lebanon

Born to address the matters of clean water and sanitation and to encourage responsible consumption and production, Compost Baladi was founded in Lebanon in 2017 by Marc Aoun. The social entrepreneur has an ambitious goal for his venture, focused on providing waste management services to municipalities and communities while selling compost to farmers: reduce the organic waste that is currently landfilled and dumped by 20% in 2030.

“Each of our waste management stations services 6000 rural community members, employs two impoverished community members and provides fertilizer for up to 100 smallholder farmers”, explains Marc about Compost Baladi’s current positive impact. 

By selling compost management systems and compost, Marc and his team have built a financially sustainable business. They have created a replicable model and with the right investors as well as additional stations in partnership with municipalities and poultry farms across Lebanon, they are ready to grow and scale up.

Each of our waste management stations services 6.000 rural community members, employs two impoverished community members and provides fertilizer for up to 100 small holder farmers.” – Marc Aoun

Social entrepreneurs in the Mediterranean
Le Lemon Tour is putting bicycles back to Tunisian roads.

Le Lemon Tour: Sustainable tourism in Tunisia

According to Nicolas Planchenault, “being an entrepreneur is the best way to become a change agent”. Compelled to create the change he wants to see in the world, Nicolas founded Le Lemon Tour, a Tunisia-based social startup that aims to put bikes back on the Tunisian roads.

Le Lemon Tour offers its customers a touristic bicycle service dedicated to discovering the many faces of the country, from bike rental to cycle-themed events, workshops and tours.

The venture aims to promote a sustainable way to move in the city and introduce the not so well known Tunisian heritage to local and international tourists. 

In 2020 alone, 1500 women benefited from Le Lemon Tour services (and learned to ride a bicycle!) – and more than 300 children (mostly from underprivileged neighbourhoods) took part in bicycle workshops. By encouraging the use of bicycles, Le Lemon Tour is also directly contributing to climate action.

Being an entrepreneur is the best way to become a change agent.” – Nicolas Planchenault

Chreek: Creating jobs and supporting social integration

George Ghafary finds his country’s business practices to be outdated. That’s why he decided to become an entrepreneur: to bring innovative solutions to social challenges into the Lebanese business ecosystem. That’s how Chreek came to life in 2014.

Guided by the principle of inclusivity, Chreek stands for ‘partner’ in Arabic. The venture was founded to act in environmental awareness projects and the creation of jobs for socially disabled people. While conducting eco-clubs in schools, running a small eco-village called Mayroba, supporting an export platform with local products, and many other green initiatives, its team is also “trying to help people with social disabilities – such as former addicts, prisoners or people with other major social issues – reintegrate into society through socio-professional development”, according to Ghafary.

Since its creation, the enterprise has already transformed hundreds of former prisoners and addicts’ lives and trained about a thousand women and youth for their integration in the job market. Indirectly, more than 4 thousand families have benefited from Chreek’s efforts – an outstanding number. If that wasn’t good enough, the venture is also making a difference in the environment through their programs, they have recycled 8000 tons of plastic, planted 30.000 trees, cleaned 6 beaches and upcycled 800 tons of garbage.

If you’re eager to learn more about how MedUp! has been promoting better business for a better future and interested in getting to know other great social entrepreneurship ventures in the Mediterranean region, the program’s storybook – full of inspiring tales of action – is already available!