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Chivas splits $1m venture fund to help 26 start-ups amid global coronavirus fight

Chivas is to split its $1 million 2020 venture fund between 26 social start-ups in a bid to support the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Chivas Venture competition, now in its sixth year, sees the blended Scotch whisky maker give away no-strings-attached funding to social enterprise start-ups which blend profit with purpose to make positive change across the globe. 

But with the Covid-19 virus still tightening its grip on parts of the world, including Europe and the US, Chivas has decided cut the competition short and distribute the funding evenly between the global finalists immediately to enable the businesses to grow and increase their positive impact more quickly. 

The successful companies come from 26 different countries across five continents and are tackling problems including getting energy to people who live off-grid to connecting organic farming families directly with consumers.

Pernod Ricard chairman and CEO, Alexandre Ricard, said: "It is with great sadness that we have decided to cut short this year's Chivas Venture competition due to the impact Covid-19 is having across the world. Now more than ever, our world needs the passion and dedication of those who want to bring about positive change. 

"That's why we have decided that each of our finalists should be provided with secure funding now, so they can continue their important work and continue to positively impact their communities in spite of these volatile conditions, which will be particularly challenging for fledgling businesses and the communities they serve."

To date, Chivas Venture has given away $5 million in no-strings funding to social start-ups who have positively impacted more than two million lives across 50 countries, including providing 34 million litres of safe drinking water, recycling 1,300 tonnes of waste, helping more than 2,500 farmers' families out of poverty and funding more than 75,000 days of education for women and girls.

Here are the companies which will benefit from Chivas Venture funding:

Mamotest, Argentina: supports women without the economic resources to access quality breast cancer diagnosis to reduce deaths from the disease. 

Okra Solar, Australia: designs and develops technology to give access to energy and electricity to those who live off-grid.

Oak Tree Projects, Belgium: provides affordable co-housing accommodation for people with disabilities.

Raizs, Brazil: an online platform that connects organic farmers directly to consumers top reduce food wastage and poverty.

Enova H2O, Bulgaria: develops instruments and services for better and faster water quality management.

Tandem Technical, Canada: helps greenhouse gas emitters reduce their emission by capturing and converting pollution.

Wheel the World, Chile: a web platform to find and book holidays for people with disabilities.

P.E.T., China: creates textiles made entirely from recycled plastic bottles.

Recupera Tu Silla, Colombia: a furniture restoration business that provides employment for people in vulnerable circumstances. 

WASE, England and Wales: develops decentralised wastewater treatment systems that provide sanitation and energy in under-served communities.

100mentors, Greece: connects students from under-privileged schools with mentors to improve their learning.

Pandobac, France: offers reusable crates to food wholesalers for fresh produce delivery.

HomeBiogas, Israel: produces an appliance that turns organic waste into biogas and fertiliser.

Pedius, Italy: an app for people with hearing problems that converts speech to text in real-time.

MyMizu, Japan: an app mapping sources of free drinking water across Japan, such as public fountains, co-working spaces and eco-friendly cafés, to reduce use of plastic bottles.

Green-Nettle Textile, Kenya: creates fabric from stinging nettles and provides employment for artisan producers around the world.

Graviti, Mexico: offers bolt-on financing for basic services such as hot water and electricity to help "unbanked" citizens access pre-pay products and key infrastructure.

Urchinomics, Netherlands: solving the "sea urchin problem" by collecting them and re-homing them in ranches, to be sold on to distributors.

Soupah-Farmen-Market, Nigeria: connects small-scale rural farmers with urban retailers to tackle food supply inefficiencies.

MakeGrowLab, Poland: creates compostable biomaterials for use as plastic packaging alternatives. 

Crover, Scotland: creates a robotic device that can monitor grain store conditions to reduce waste.

EthicHub, Spain: blockchain-based platform to generate affordable funds for smallholding farming through investors.

Hustlenomics, South Africa: trains women and young people in basic construction, offering low-income households the chance to build a durable structure.

YoungHappy, Thailand: provides events and support groups for senior citizens to help them maintain active, social lifestyles.

Strella Biotechnology, USA: creates biosensing platforms that can tell the ripeness of fresh produce in the supply chain, reducing food waste.

Cricket One, Vietnam: uses crickets to create protein-rich food and reduce agricultural waste. 

24 March 2020 - Bethany Whymark