Tackling Textiles Together: Unique Fabric Recycling Scheme to Tackle Textile Waste
Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation (QF RDI) has awarded its popular Innovation Coupon (IC) to high school student and Qatari innovator, Abdulaziz Elepsy.
The grant will enable Elepsy to expand his sustainability-based initiative, Tackling Textiles Together, one of the first initiatives of its kind in Qatar, recycling old clothes and fabrics into new and fashionable items such as hats and bags, among others, to help reduce material waste.
Some of the products sourced will be donated to developing countries and to areas with refugee crises. The scheme will also provide information and tutorials via videos on how to make small, but significant changes at home to reduce waste and its harmful impact on the environment.
Elepsy is a Grade 11 student at Qatar Academy Doha. He said that his business is inspired by his desire to help the community by tackling textile waste. Qatar Academy Doha is a school under Qatar Foundation Pre-University Education.
The IC programme is targeted at individual Qatari entrepreneurs or Qatar-based early-stage startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) across all sectors and industries engaged in the development of new technology-based products and services. Along with grant funding, the programme will also provide the technical support needed to prototype their ideas and become market-ready. Since its launch two years ago, the fund already benefitted 24 projects.
According to IC team members Faiha Al-Qahtani and Saeed Al-Hajri, investing in ambitious, young entrepreneurs whose schemes aim to benefit local and global communities is a priority for the programme.
Tackling Textiles Together is a perfect example of that. This small step in tackling textile waste has the potential to positively impact Qatar’s drive towards sustainability, as well as individuals who participate or benefit from the project.
Tackling Textiles Together
Explaining his motivation behind starting Tackling Textiles Together, Elepsy said he always have a passion for style and fashion. He said that for as long as he can remember, he has always involved himself in arts and crafts at home.
As my interest in textiles grew, largely due to the study of it at school, I did a lot of research and discovered the downside – the detrimental impact of discarded clothes and fabrics on our planet.
I wouldn’t want to pursue my passion if it meant harming the environment, so after some thought, I came up with the idea of recycling fabrics and helping those less fortunate at the same time.
Tackling Textiles Together will initially be a non-profit business, focusing on collecting donated fabrics to reduce waste while simultaneously aiding refugees in need, but there is a longer-term vision too. Elepsy said that in the long-term, he is hoping to turn the venture into a profit-making business whilst remaining true to its roots of sustainability and charity.
The young entrepreneur regards the recycling of fabrics as a major contribution to dealing with the issue of waste management by ensuring products do not end up in landfill sites or in our oceans. He also sees a host of advantages for the Qatari community and beyond.
He said that in Qatar, people are primarily focused on recycling plastic – and are doing an excellent job there. However, looking closer, there is also an opportunity to reduce textile waste.
By taking old clothes and designing fashion-forward items, I can help reduce the number of textiles that are being thrown away. I plan for my business to also assist communities outside of Qatar, for example in Afghanistan and other refugee communities, by providing much-needed clothing and accessories.
Earlier this year, after encouragement from his school teachers Brett and Nicole Scott, Elepsy applied for the Innovation Coupon Young Minds edition, open to 16 to 24 years old. He said that the backing from QF RDI has helped him become a much more rounded person.
Aside from financial support, the IC team has provided me with exceptional entrepreneurial guidance and advice. As a result, I feel more confident in pushing myself to learn new skills every day. The IC has basically made me into a business owner, and I cannot thank the team enough.
He also gave his mother credit for the incredible level of support and interest. He said that his mother taught him how to bargain to get the best prices. He said that his parents are his biggest supporters as they inspired him to work hard.
Planning and production
Since he became a recipient of the IC, Elepsy has been heavily occupied with planning and production. He has an official agreement with Qatar Charity, which will provide him with raw materials; sourcing two tailors to create hats and bags; he is also in productive talks with tech developers to set up a company website. He also ran an exhibition from 19 to 21 October at Multaqa in Education City, where he showcased his project and products. He also plans to set up a booth at the Torba farmer’s market in Duhail.
Providing some guiding words for other young innovators looking to make a positive impact in Qatar, Elepsy advised to ‘seek ways to do so’.
More than anything, follow your passion; be resilient, patient and accept advice from experts and those who support you. Always trust the process and never give up.
The Innovation Coupon programme provides three tiers of funding that aid applicants to gradually develop their idea and prepare to launch into the market. Tier One is for individual applicants who have an idea but are unsure of its feasibility or if it needs refining; Tier Two is for those looking to understand how to take their ideas to market and begin exploring their business plan and value proposition; Tier Three is for those who recognise their business risks, understand their value proposition and already have a demo product. Both Tier Two and Tier Three are open to individuals, startups and SME.
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