Change Please, which empowers the homeless community by training them to be baristas, walked away with a US$350,000 funding following a live pitch at Europe’s leading tech festival, TNW Conference. The multifaceted tech entrepreneur, creative innovator and frontman for The Black Eyed Peas will.i.am helped crown the winners of the global competition that awards a no-strings-attached US$1 million funding to the world’s most promising social startups.
The London-based Change Please was founded by Cemal Ezel who, together with a team also staffed by the homeless, provides housing support, bank accounts and jobs paying the London Living Wage. The social enterprise’s coffee, served in environmentally-friendly cups, is responsibly sourced from farms that aid local communities in need.
The other four finalists – out of the 27 who made it to the Chivas Venture 2018 – who also received funding were Netherlands’ Mestic (US$200,000), which converts cow manure waste into biotextiles; Spain’s BraiBook (US$100,000), creator of the first Braille eReader; our homegrown enterprise The Picha Project (US$50,000) and the US’ WATER Labs, which has developed low-cost, waterless toilets for non-sewered households and communities around the world.
This is the first time a Malaysian startup has made it to the final five. After receiving US$3,182 from the Chivas Venture Voting Period, The Picha Project – which beat out finalists Chocolate Concierge, Promise Earth and The Truly Loving Company to clinch top spot at the Malaysian finale of the annual The Chivas Venture competition – now has a total of US$53,182 in funding.
CEO and co-founder of The Picha Project Lim Yuet Kim describes the surreal experience to Options, “It feels unbelievable for us to be in the top 5 and tell our story to 3,000 people in the room as well as those who were streaming live. It was nerve-wracking but I also felt proud to be the only Asian in the top 5 and to put Malaysia on the map. It was a great honour for The Picha Project to be the voice for the voiceless on the international stage.”
The funds they have won will be used to expand the social enterprise further, “We’ll get more families on board to work with us in the long term. This will increase our potential for growth and help us develop a solid voice in the future – to show that something positive can happen to refugees in Asia and anywhere else.”
Entries for the Chivas Venture 2019 are open in September 2018. See here for more details.