The startup replaced over 10,000 kilogrammes of plastic with their biodegradable products in Qatar since they started in 2019.
In a city still grappling with excessive waste and striving for heightened environmental awareness, a revolution is underway in the battle against plastic pollution.
Abdullah Shaat and Saoud Al Emadi, the dynamic co-founders of Enavra, a local environmental-focused business, are giving single-use plastics a run for their money with their ingenious use of upcycled food waste.
Their mission? To offer a biodegradable alternative to plastics that decompose within just one year, leaving nothing but a cleaner, greener planet.
Shaat and Al Emadi stumbled upon their game-changing idea while brainstorming ways to tackle the plastic waste crisis in the country.
The answer they found lay in their own kitchens, quite literally: fruit seeds. These seemingly insignificant remnants of snacks and meals turned out to be a treasure trove of potential, harbouring a chemical structure akin to plastic.
“When we discovered that fruit seeds share similarities with plastic in their chemical structure, it was like finding a hidden treasure. We knew we had stumbled upon something special,” Shaat told Doha News.
With some clever tweaking, the duo unlocked the secret to turning the discarded seeds into a versatile bioplastic that could revolutionise the world of eco-friendly alternatives.
Challenges in starting up
In its early days, Enavra grappled with sourcing a reliable supply of food waste while striking the delicate balance between production capacity and burgeoning demand.
“It can be difficult to introduce a new concept, especially if it was a bit pricier than abundant plastic products. Having to have our products shipped from far countries put constraints on our deals as we couldn’t predict timelines to give to our clients,” the duo explained.
Nevertheless, Al Emadi and Shaat’s unwavering commitment to their cause led them to become more than just sellers – but manufacturers, giving them greater control over their products’ quality and inspiring confidence in both customers and collaborators.
They were able to achieve manufacturing rights after being incubated by the Qatar Business Incubation Center (QBIC).
“Starting out, we faced challenges in ensuring a steady supply of food waste for our bioplastic. But we persevered and decided to take matters into our own hands by becoming manufacturers. This allowed us to create a reliable supply chain.”
“We encountered challenges in fine-tuning the process to achieve consistent results,” added Shaat.
Some of the battles the company found itself facing, was in creating a profit margin that made their eco-friendly products accessible to a broad segment of Qatar’s population without compromising on quality, as well as educating consumers about the benefits of biodegradable alternatives.
Overcoming preconceived notions about the performance and cost of such products was no small feat. However, determined to overcome these challenges, the co-founders took a proactive approach.
For the young entrepreneurs, it was essential to convey that the benefits of their biodegradable alternatives were worth every penny in terms of quality, experience, and most importantly, the positive impact on the planet.
They sought collaboration with industry experts to optimise their process, ensuring a product that lived up to expectations.
“We actively engaged with potential customers to address their concerns and build trust,” they explained.
Turning point: a shift to manufacturing
As Enavra continued to weather the challenges, a significant turning point awaited them.
“One game-changer was switching from a buyer-and-seller type of company to a manufacturer,” the cofounders told Doha News.
In November 2022, the company successfully produced its first batch of biodegradable products, marking a momentous achievement.
The shift to becoming manufacturers was no small feat as building the factory demanded extensive research, effort, and travel to test machines, design moulds, and finalise the products.
“We now have greater control over our product quality and supply chain,” added Shaat.
In a city where excessive waste challenges the pursuit of environmental consciousness, Enavra’s journey is a testament to the resilience of innovative ideas. Abdullah Shaat and Saoud Al Emadi have shown that by embracing setbacks and taking bold steps forward, they can steer a course towards a greener, more sustainable future.
As they continue to fine-tune their eco-friendly alternatives and expand their reach, Enavra stands to lead the way in the ongoing battle against plastic pollution in the country.
While Qatar may be known for its vast oil reserves, the nation is also nurturing a burgeoning ecosystem of sustainability.
Enavra has thrived in this oasis of support, buoyed by Qatar’s commitment to environmental protection and the push for sustainable practices. With a favourable regulatory landscape, the duo’s vision flourished.
“Qatar’s commitment to environmental protection has been a driving force behind our success. The support we’ve received from the community and the government has been instrumental in our growth,” Shaat told Doha News.
The company’s steady growth signals a shift towards a Doha where sustainability is more than just a buzzword.
“We’re thrilled to witness the growing adoption of our biodegradable alternatives. It’s heartening to see that people are recognising the importance of making eco-friendly choices for our planet,” Al Emadi said, brimming with pride.
The future looks promising for Enavra as they continue to sow the seeds of innovation.
Through their journey, Shaat and Al Emadi have learned that environmental entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart, as it demands passion, perseverance and a constant pursuit of sustainable solutions.
By sharing their story, they hope to inspire the next generation of eco-entrepreneurs, leaving behind a legacy that extends far beyond the boundaries of Qatar.