Bangladeshi agri-tech startup iPAGE and Mongolian air filter manufacturer Airee win the top prizes in the young entrepreneurs pitch contest of the World Export Development Forum (WEDF) in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, per a press release on International Trade Centee’s website.
The announcement was made on 28 June at the closing ceremony of the conference. WEDF is the annual flagship event of the International Trade Centre (ITC), this year co-hosted with the Government of Mongolia from 26-28 June.
Oyungerel Munkhbat of the Mongolian air filter manufacturer Airee won the top prize in the green business solutions category. The company reduces microplastic pollution through 100% biodegradable wool filters.
Mashrur Hossain of Bangladeshi agri-tech firm iPAGE won for best land restoration initiative. iPage provides crop-specific digital advisory services to smallholder farmers to enhance their productivity.
Chirag M G of Brown Reed Agri Waste Innovations won the public vote with nearly 800 votes and received a special mention. The company converts coconut leaves into drinking straws and creates jobs for rural women.
The top prize
The Mongolian Airee and Bangladeshi iPAGE take home $5,000 each in seed funding and will receive capacity building to scale up their businesses.
The prize packages are provided by ITC, the G20 Global Land Initiative of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Google’s Startups for Sustainable Development programme and the multinational law firm Sidley Austin.
The winners were chosen based on their work promoting sustainability, circularity and the green economy, including land restoration. They emerged on top following a three-step process, first a written application, followed by a pitch to the finalists selection committee, then a live pitch on the WEDF stage, presented to a panel of judges and hundreds of participants.
The finalists who pitched on the WEDF stage were iPAGE, Bangladesh; Cupmena, Egypt; Sommalife, Ghana; Brown Reed Agri Waste Innovations, India; Liberty Society, Indonesia; Bôndy, Madagascar; and Airee, Mongolia.
This was the fourth young entrepreneurs’ pitch competition at the World Export Development Forum. At each of the previous conferences, the national host was offered the opportunity to field independent candidates in the competitive process.
These finalists were selected from a shortlist of 419 companies from 63 countries.
The 2023 edition of the World Export Development Forum took on the theme of diversifying with green and digital trade. While the conference theme is global, there is a focus on trade opportunities for landlocked developing countries. Mongolia is the world’s second-largest landlocked country.
The conference was hosted by the Government of Mongolia, led by the Office of the President, in close partnership with the United Nations Country Team for Mongolia.