“Sometimes bad things have to happen before the good things start,” says Ali Ghnaim.
Ghnaim’s journey into environmental innovation started with a rather stressful incident in his life. One early morning in Amman, as Ghnaim was driving to work, a reckless driver crashed into his car. Luckily, Ghnaim was not hurt, but he did lose something valuable that day. The impact of the car crash destroyed Ghnaim’s laptop, which held large amounts of important data. Data that Ghnaim had worked on for years.
Week after week, Ghnaim tried every possible way, every laptop repair shop in Jordan to recover the data, with no luck. Until one afternoon, as he was telling a friend about the unfortunate incident, he was referred to Obieda Ghazal, a tech guru in Amman who knew exactly what to do to bring Ghnaim’s laptop back to life. Little did they know that this encounter would forever change their lives!
After a few meetings, Ghnaim and Ghazal found out that they had much in common. At the time, they were very excited about an idea which they were working on—a car control device that could turn any car into a smart one. Ghnaim was just as excited with setting up the business side of the innovation, while Ghazal took care of the technical side. They started working together and attended events to understand the world of start-ups to strengthen their project. It was during this period that they met their third future business partner, and friend, Amin Al-Zoubi.
After 12 months of hard work on the car control device, they realized that the implementation of the project required large amounts of funds which would have been very difficult to secure. Naturally, feelings of disappointment prevailed as the idea came to an end.
During a summer afternoon in 2016, Ghnaim, Ghazal and Al-Zoubi were having coffee and discussing some of the challenges they found in Jordan. One challenge that took over the conversation was pollution and its impact on human health, and the environment of their beloved country. The discussions turned into exploring simple yet innovative ideas which could address these challenges, while making people’s daily hectic lives more convenient.
Ghazal put forward the idea of creating a mobile application through which people could order gas cylinders for a small amount of money. He thought that this would eliminate traffic congestion, reduce emissions, fuel consumption and noise pollution caused by the gas trucks circulating through residential areas in Jordanian cities.
The idea was initially rejected by Ghnaim as he did not think it would work. However, a few months later he changed his mind, so Ghazal started building the application, Al-Zoubi created the gas distributors’ networks in Jordan, and Ghnaim managed the business and investment.
Ghnaim says, “in a negative environment, it was difficult to stay positive”! Acquaintances and friends kept telling them that the idea would never work, that it was stupid, and that no one would use the application. But this did not stop the three young innovators from working day and night to enhance their project, and, in a short period of time, Gasable was born. It is the first mobile application in Jordan that connects liquefied petroleum gas stores and distributes gas cylinders to consumers on their doorstep.
Every day and hour they watched and counted the increasing number of users. They motivated people to use the application and educated them about the positive impact which they would leave on the environment, by using the application to order the gas cylinders.
With a lot of determination and hard work, Gasable became one of the fastest growing start-ups in the Middle East. From 8,000 users in 2016, Gasable had 75,000 registered users in 2017. And today, it has more than 400,000 users, 15,000 orders per month, and an annual growth rate of 300 per cent.
The idea was replicated by many others in Jordan, and the business model was copied, but the three friends were determined to make Gasable the best!
A year after the launch of the application, they conducted a study to check the efficiency of the new gas distribution method in Jordan. To their surprise, Gasable was credited for reducing the fuel consumption of trucks by 47.6 per cent, consequently reducing air pollutants with the same percentage. This was a big dose of motivation to the team, confirming that not only does Gasable make people’s lives more convenient, but it also helps the environment!
Of course, successes come with great challenges. Since Gasable was a self-funded project by the three founders, the young innovators were financially overstretched and had to take up more than one job to cover the expenses of their project. Al-Zoubi, unfortunately, has not been able to stay with the team due to financial constraints and decided to leave the group. It only meant more challenges and less people to take care of Gasable.
But hard work pays off! An investment opportunity emerged in Saudi Arabia and Ghnaim left to explore it, while Ghazal travelled aboard to find new markets.
Amidst a series of challenging circumstances and unfortunate events, Gasable now exists in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Ethiopia, and the team is looking to expand in other countries and territories.
Gasable is a living example of how empowered and determined youth can indeed #SolveDifferent!
Read the UNEP article