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Earning money with scorpion poison
– by Moutaz Ali
Out of hundreds of small-business projects proposals for Libya, the three best were announced at an event in Tunisia a few weeks ago. “This is what the European Union would like to see emerge in Libya: a new culture of business,” said Bettina Mudscheidt, the EU’s ambassador to Libya. She presented the awards to the winners. “These projects are really impressive,” she said.
The competition was launched in March 2017 and managed by Expertise France, a French development agency on behalf of the EU and Libyan authorities. The objective is to “develop entrepreneurship in Libya,” said Nessrin Ghaddah from Expertise France. More than 1,000 applications were handed in. They were made by people of different ages, both sexes and from various parts of the country. The ten best proposals were selected, and those who had submitted them, were invited to the event in Tunis.
The first prize went to Sinbad, a project designed to teach the basics of entrepreneurship and project management in a simple and interactive manner. “We believe in improving people’s lives, and Sinbad is a tool to do just that,” says Marwan Al-Abed from Tripoli, one of the three people behind the idea. The name “Sinbad” refers to the fictional sailor of Arab fairy tales. According to Al-Abed, he was an “Arab adventurer and a businessman of sorts, always willing to take a risk”. Al-Abed and his two partners plan the business to become operational next year.
The second prize went to Asem Ali from Zawia with a proposal to set up an electricity-generating plant that uses recycled waste. “Accumulation of waste which is a prime reason for pollution,” says Asem, adding that his scheme will “serve the country economically, socially and environmentally”. Funding the project is still an issue, though.
The third-placed project proposes to extract the poison of living scorpions and sell it to serum and medicine manufacturers. Hussein Kafu from the Nafusa Mountain came up with the idea. “One day I received a call from a friend from the south. He had been stung by a scorpion and needed an antidote,” Hussein remembers. “Then I found out that in Libya, we don’t have such a serum at all.” With his new project, Hussein would like to help supplying Libyans with the much-needed scorpions’ serum.
Moutaz Ali is a journalist and lives in Tripoli, Libya.