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Community Update
March 29, 2024

Garbaliser - Turning Waste into Liquid Gold

Our alumna Hanan Ismail is spearheading a regionally growing company transforming organic waste into liquid fertilizer
hanan and zeinab founders of garbaliser

Hanan Ismail is an alumna of Jusoor’s 2022 Agriculture Small Business Accelerator where she joined with her project Garbaliser at its early stages but is quickly transforming it into a regional powerhouse in the organic fertilizer industry.

Garbaliser’s patented liquid fertilizer, which is proven to produce not only cleaner produce but also at a larger capacity than chemical fertilizer, is sold regularly to over 400 clients in Lebanon’s Baalbak area, where the company was founded in 2020. With Hanan as founder and her sister Zeinab Ismail as cofounder,  the sisters set out to find a solution to Lebanon’s burgeoning garbage problem which was at an all-time worst during the COVID-19 lockdown and the height of the Lebanese economic crisis. 

The sisters wanted to tackle the garbage issue at its source, the trash cans of houses and businesses by creating a garbage disposal system where people could separate their trash. After much research, they did not find support for the idea - especially in the political and economic climate of that time. 

However, this challenge did not deter the sisters - during their experimentation with organic waste collection, they learned on the job how to create organic fertilizer from bio-waste to make compost. However, upon further investigation, they found that compost is challenging to use in large-scale farming due to its state of matter as dirt, which makes it challenging to mix into irrigation systems. Through their patented invention, they managed to turn this organic waste into a liquid fertilizer, allowing farmers to directly add it to their irrigation systems and thus maximize its use.

Khaled from West Bekaa, experimented with using Garbaliser’s organic fertilizer on one half of his land and a chemical fertilizer on another. He found a 25% increase in lettuce production, a better-tasting product with a longer shelf life

After securing an initial client base for their fertilizer, the Ismail sisters revisited their initial idea of the garbage separator but with the fertilizer as an added option. They started selling their separating system ‘al-Hadum’ (The Digestor) which enables users to separate their organic and non-organic waste for Garbaliser to collect and turn into fertilizer. The clients then also get discounted rates for the liquid fertilizer. Garbaliser also teamed up with two other startups in Lebanon, Zero Waste, who recycle the non-organic materials collected and Dekkanet El-Nes, an organic grocery store where people can buy non-packaged food which they get reward points for.

Training & Business Development

Despite growing up in an agricultural environment, neither Hanan nor Zeinab had experience or studies in the field. Hanan has a bachelor’s degree in Banking & Finance, and a master’s degree in marketing and is currently pursuing her PhD in Economics while Zeinab is an Electrical Engineer.

After their introduction to the entrepreneurship world, they joined Jusoor’s Agriculture Small Business Accelerator in 2022, starting out as a minimal viable project. It was during that phase that Garbaliser started to develop prototypes of their invention; first starting out in their own home then moving to a larger 10,000-liter tank on their grandfather’s farm. The accelerator also helped them develop their business model, and learn how to pitch and present their story.

“Jusoor was the first program we participated in that conducted the program entirely in Arabic so we could grasp all the concepts presented. I struggled with English before so I would only really get 60-70% of what was being said.  But with Jusoor everything was accessible,” Hanan Ismail says.
Garbaliser Liquid Fertilizer from organic waste

Expansion & Global Perspective

The company’s original goal was to expand slowly inside Lebanon, reaching more regions gradually while maintaining its operations and system. However, upon their participation in Dubai Expo 2020 and COP28 in Dubai, the founders found themselves in the heart of the global market - with a lot of interest in their product from businesses and governments all over the world as well as investment and partnership offers.

“It made us realize the value of our business and how important it is to have space for entrepreneurs and innovation in any society,” Hanan Ismail says commenting on their participation in COP28.
Garbaliser Hanan Ismail and Reem Almarzouk on Shark Tank Dubai

It was in Dubai that they met their UAE partner Reem Al-Marzouki, an inventor who was creating a method of turning bio-waste into clean drinking water. They put their hands together and pitched their product on Shark Tank Dubai in December 2023, where they got a double investment offer of 1.6M AED for 12% of their company. In 2023, they also secured an investment from Ground Up Capital Fund in the USA.

“If I can give advice to any entrepreneur starting out, is to not be deterred by the challenges but to face them head-on,” Hanan Ismail says. “And to surround yourself with a good support system and positivity so you can keep going no matter what comes your way.”

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