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will.i.am awards ‘superstar’ entrepreneurs in final of $1m Chivas competition

May 25 2018 15:23
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Tech entrepreneur and creative innovator will.i.am was in Amsterdam to help select and crown the winner of the Chivas Venture 2018 – Chivas Regal’s global competition that gives away $1million in no-strings funding every year to the world’s most promising social startups. From 27 finalists, U.K. enterprise Change Please walked away with the greatest amount of funding, receiving $350,000 following a live pitch at Europe’s leading tech festival, TNW Conference, in front of thousands of international tech enthusiasts, investors and entrepreneurs.

Change Please empowers the homeless community by training them to be baristas. The London-based startup takes the homeless off the streets and ensures they find housing within 10 days – as well as providing bank accounts and jobs paying the London Living Wage. Their coffee, served in environmentally-friendly cups, is responsibly sourced from farms that support local communities in need.

Reacting to his win, Founder of Change Please Cemal Ezel said:

“I'm so happy – I think I'm still in shock. It's been a hard and long journey, but to have made 26 incredible new friends from all over the world – that's been the real highlight for me. The last four months have been amazing; I just want to give a huge thanks to Chivas.”

 The Global Final – hosted by BAFTA winning actor, writer, director and television presenter, Richard Ayoade – was the culmination of the fourth year of the Chivas Venture. This year’s competition attracted 2,600 entries from across the world, which were whittled down to 27 finalists all competing for a share of Chivas Regal’s $1million fund. The judging panel - which comprised will.i.am, Founder & CEO, I.AM.PLUS; Alexandre Ricard, Chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard – parent company of Chivas Regal; Sheila Herrling, Senior Fellow at The Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation; and Kresse Wesling MBE, Co-Founder and Director of sustainable luxury brand Elvis & Kresse – assessed each startup based on their ability to create sustainable change through a viable business model and potential to scale.

South African winner, Clement Mokoenene, was unfortunately one of the finalists eliminated at during the quarter final stage.

“This experience has been incredibly rewarding. I might not have made it to the semi-finals but I feel like a winner nevertheless. The one on one coaching and social business mentorship I have been exposed to as part of the Chivas Venture, will help me take my business to the next level”, says Mokoenene.

It is not over just yet, Mokoenene still has the opportunity to secure funding for his business idea Vehicle Energy Harvesting System (VEHS) at the TWN conference. The TWN Conference is a technology festival that brings together international technology executives, top-tier investors and promising startups for two days of business and knowledge sharing – surrounded by some of the highest production values at any tech event on the planet.

“Despite not coming home as the global winner, we still consider him our champion for reaching this stage of the competition. He made us proud and we all wish him the best as he takes his business to new heights”, concluded Shelley Reeves, marketing manager at Chivas Regal South Africa.

For up to date coverage follow our social pages @ChivasRegalSA.

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