Where are you from and what is your background?
Samer: I’m from Lebanon. I have a bachelor’s degree in computer and communication engineering and a master’s degree in business administration.
Aymane: I’m from Morocco. I’m currently residing in Spain as I pursue my degree in architecture.
What is the name of your startup/project and what is its purpose?
Samer: I am the co-founder of three startups: Mommy Made aims to empower Lebanese women by training them and creating catering jobs; ProAbled aims to train job seekers, especially individuals with special needs, and connect them with employers through work-readiness programs; and HUM’N GO offers a traditional and healthy snack made from hummus.
Aymane: I am currently working on three projects: Extra aims to connect civilization with nature through organic-based design for products and architecture; Clinaqua aims to solve the single-use plastic water bottle problem via a reusable water bottle with a filter 100% made from ecological material; and Proluo aims to clean the Mediterranean waters by installing filters on boats that gather microplastics.
When and how did you start working on your first startup/project?
Samer: I started working on Mommy Made in 2012 while I was pursuing my master’s degree. The aim was to create sustainable social impact. In 2008, my friend and I organized a charity event to supply food for families in need and I realized that those families would return to poverty as soon as they ran out of the food supplied, which in no way solved their problem.
Aymane: I started working on my first water filter when I was 17. The tap water in my city turned yellow and was not drinkable for two weeks, so I decided to build a filter from material that I could find at home and in my kitchen. I later tested the filter in a lab to make sure it was safe to use.
What role has INJAZ played in your journey?
Samer: When I started working on Mommy Made, I applied to the INJAZ Ripple of Happiness Program, through which my project received a $7,000 prize and the Best Women Empowerment Project Award. I later served as president of the INJAZ Lebanon alumni chapter and vice president of INJAZ Al Arab social impact.
Aymane: I started working on my first filter as part of the INJAZ Morocco Company Program. At the time I was becoming very interested in entrepreneurship and started watching YouTube videos on how to become an entrepreneur. I was lucky that my mother was invited to be a coach in the INJAZ Company Program, which gave me the opportunity to participate. I am currently an active member of JA Alumni Europe and affiliated with the JA Spain team.
What is your team’s next step?
Samer: Currently, we are looking to create regional collaboration to export our HUM’N GO snack. We are also looking to train and consult with companies in the Arab world on inclusion of individuals with disability through ProAbled.
Aymane: We are looking to use the funding we received from our university for the Proluo project to deploy our solution in 2021.
What advice would you give the JA community?
Samer: To succeed as an entrepreneur you must have a combination of perseverance and openness. Keep working hard toward your goals but always be ready to modify and change.
Aymane: You can do more by not limiting yourself, but you have to carefully plan and manage your time.