Request for Application | DAWERR Innovation Challenge 2023


Section 1 – Background

On June 30, 2020, United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Lebanon awarded ECODIT the Diverting Waste by Encouraging Reuse and Recycling (DAWERR) Activity, a five-year project that will establish sustainable and replicable integrated solid waste diversion and valorization solutions in rural areas of Lebanon, leading to improved social and economic well-being for Lebanon’s population. The Activity aligns with USAID/Lebanon’s desire to introduce financially sustainable solutions that increase the reuse, recycling, and monetization of solid waste to reduce the amount of solid waste that goes into landfills. The Activity has the following three objectives:

  1. Build the capacity and commitment of municipalities to provide improved Solid Waste Management (SWM) services either directly or indirectly;
  2. Empower communities to sort at the source and participate actively in various stages of the Recycling Value Chains (RVCs); and
  3. Develop successful business models that create green economic opportunities and generate net incomes along the value chains.


The DAWERR Activity’s period of performance is August 1, 2020 to July 31, 2025.


DAWERR is implemented by ECODIT LLC and its local subcontractors including Berytech, Compost Baladi, and ECODIT Liban. 

Section 2 – Purpose, Objectives, and Expected Results

The purpose of this Request for Applications (RFA) is to solicit grant applications for funding available through the USAID DAWERR Activity (the Activity). Under DAWERR Objective 3, Activity 3.3.1 of the Year 3 Annual Work Plan – Complete Incubation Program under the Second Iteration of the Ideathon and Launch the Third Iteration of the Ideathon, and following Years 1 and 2 Ideathons, DAWERR will launch the Year 3 edition under a new brand name “DAWERR Innovation Challenge 2023 (IC23)” to attract startups (registered or non-registered) and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to submit Expressions of Interest (EOIs).

DAWERR will accept, review and evaluate EOIs, invite up to 10 entities to take part in an innovation bootcamp that will be organized by Berytech in June 2023, and then shortlist up to six winning entities to undergo Phase 1 of an incubation program.  

Under the three-month incubation program (Phase 1), DAWERR will provide business and technical assistance for the six winning startups or SMEs for them to grow further, validate their solutions and further develop their MVP, along with financial assistance as in-kind grants of up to $750 for each entity. This stimulus will provide equal opportunity for all the selected entities to validate their business and pursue their operations with a more compelling product/service. This would also increase the success of the entity even if not selected to move on to Phase 2 of the incubation program.  

Out of the six short-listed entities, DAWERR will select up to three startups or SMEs (the three finalists) to move on to the second phase of the incubation program and provide them with in-kind grants of up to $5,000 each to be spent on further developing and scaling their solutions. 

Since its inception, DAWERR has been assisting municipalities to improve their SWM services.  Subsequently, and for IC23, DAWERR identified two key challenges including (1) sorting at source by community members and businesses, and (2) selective collection of pre-sorted waste, with a focus on organic waste, by the municipality/private sector operator. These two challenges increase the burden on municipalities to properly collect and treat the different solid waste streams in their areas. There are several factors that contribute to these challenges including poor sorting practices; lack of engagement in sorting at source; technical difficulties in composting organic waste set out in plastic bags, including so-called compostable plastic bags; lack of incentives to sort at source; increasing costs of collection services (fuel, maintenance of equipment, etc.); unavailability of collection vehicles for selective collection; and the economic situation that rendered the overall services in the SWM sector inefficient and costly at the local level.

Accordingly, applicants to DAWERR IC23 must have solutions and existing MVPs to address one or both challenges, including challenge statements (in bullets).

Sorting at Source. Solutions that target sorting at source should aim to:

  • Address sorting practices, behavior change and/or scalability challenges. In most areas, solutions should be able to encourage people to start sorting at source and separate their waste into organic waste, recyclables, and rejects. For new and existing sorters, this solution should also aim at facilitating practices by the waste generator to either (1) set out the pre-sorted waste into three (3) bins for selective collection or (2) drop off the pre-sorted recyclables and organic waste at designated drop-off or community composting kiosks;
  • Change a fundamental aspect of SWM which is people’s behavior. The solution should enable more effective Social Behavior Change (SBC) campaigns -I.e., facilitate more impact and a greater reach for every dollar spent on SBC campaigns.[1] In other words, when the solution is implemented, areas and communities targeted by SBC campaigns would register an increase in the percentage of people who sort their waste at the source and have changed their behaviors as compared to the pre-solution situation; and/or
  • Scale up an existing successful SBC model to new areas or possibly into a national level model. Solutions must show results from existing markets, and ease of adaptability, and where applicable, an in-depth understanding of the new targeted area(s).

Selective Collection. Solutions that target selective collection of pre-sorted waste should aim to:

  • Amend and optimize existing solid wase collection operations to make them more cost and resources efficient. Solutions should adjust, upgrade, change, innovate or automate any or all aspects of the operations in a way that lowers risks and the impact of negative change. Solutions must clearly demonstrate efficiency and effectiveness by optimizing resources utility, lowering costs, or delivering more results;
  • Mobilize communities where people adopt a drop off approach. Solutions must enable people to have options where they can drop off their pre-sorted solid waste at certain designated fixed or mobile locations. This should complement or replace existing collection schemes and routes. Where applicable, solutions must also guarantee that the required changes in existing collection methods to accept source separated waste; and/or
  • Reduce the adverse impacts of the informal sector, also known as scavengers, in SWM especially for recyclables. Solutions should propose approaches by local authorities to regulate or integrate scavengers in the proposed SWM system while maintaining acceptable profits for all stakeholders.

While solutions should aim at SWM in general, those that target or include organic waste are preferrable. For example, one solution could address the challenges of: (1) sorting at the source and setting out pre-sorted waste for selection collection, and (2) selective collection of pre-sorted waste. Another solution could address the challenges of sorting at source and of dropping off the pre-sorted recyclables and organic waste at a drop off or community composting kiosk.

It is DAWERR’s intent that the solutions to the challenge statements outlined above serve to (1) support municipalities in diverting a significant portion of the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) stream away from landfills and decreasing the costs of SWM services, and (2) support private sector entities to create viable local or regional RVCs in the MSW sector. Specifically, solutions under the IC23 will feed into DAWERR's overall objectives and targets. The challenges also remain broad enough to allow the participants to scale up and expand their operations outside the municipalities targeted by DAWERR.

We provide here below, and in Exhibit 1, a summary of steps for DAWERR IC23:

  • Step 1: DAWERR will give the opportunity to interested unregistered and registered startups and SMEs to submit their ideas in EOI. DAWERR will form a Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) that will review, score and shortlist up to 10 entities. DAWERR will then invite those shortlisted entities to an innovation bootcamp.


  • Step 2: DAWERR will organize a 2-day innovation bootcamp to help the shortlisted entities fine tune their proposals/solutions through Go-to-Market (GTM) and Pitching workshops. They will also work on preparing a presentation for their solution. DAWERR will assess the pitches, evaluate them, then shortlist up to six entities (of the up to 10) to move on to Incubation Program – Phase 1.


  • Step 3:  During this phase, Incubation Program – Phase 1, the six shortlisted entities will receive training sessions, workshops, and one-on-one clinics under the 3-month program. Each entity will also receive an in-kind grant of up to $750 to validate its solution. At the end of phase 1, the six entities will prepare another presentation/pitch to highlight their development stage and findings. A second jury will evaluate those pitches and shortlist up to three (3) finalists that will move to Incubation Program – Phase 2.


  • Step 4: The three finalists will then receive up to $5,000 in-kind grants each to finance their product development through further market research and validation, branding, design, website creation, features enhancement and development, register as a legal entity (if not done already), and other. DAWERR will also hold one-on-one, customized follow-up sessions with the three winning entities, and offer them technical and business consulting to work on their MVPs, test their business models on the ground and adjust them if needed. At the conclusion of Incubation Phase 2, DAWERR will evaluate the extent to which the startups and MVPs align with DAWERR objectives. We refer to those startups as the “DAWERR IC23 Graduates”. Of the DAWERR IC23 Graduates, registered entities will be eligible to receive a grant of up to $20,000 from DAWERR to pilot and scale their solutions and accelerate their business operations and market penetration and growth along the RVCs. These startups will each submit grant applications which DAWERR will review. If accepted, DAWERR will request USAID’s approval to award grants up to $20,000 each. For non-registered entities, they must first register as a legal entity in Lebanon, and then follow the same steps of the registered ones.

The activities to be financed through this grants fund are those that will contribute to overall DAWERR objectives and specifically the following results:[2]

  • Six (6) Public–Private Partnerships (PPPs)/business agreements established to support improved SWM;
  • Twenty (20) individuals receiving training;
  • 15% female participation in programs designed to increase access to productive economic resources; and
  • Six (6) local actors are engaged in community, regional and national programs.

Strategic communications will be critical to announce DAWERR IC23, solicit EOIs, secure buy-in for the activities and ensure public interaction. Upon approval of this RFA, Berytech will develop a communication, outreach and content plan, validate it with DAWERR and share it with USAID for review and approval. 

The primary objectives of the Communication and Outreach Plan are:

  • To increase and renew buy-in for SWM initiatives in Lebanon among startups and SMEs interested in solving challenges in the waste management sector;
  • To increase recognition by key Lebanese partners and the public that USAID assistance is from the American people and is enhancing economic opportunities, protecting the environment, and stabilizing poor and underserved areas in Lebanon;
  • To raise awareness on SWM and promote sustainable social behavior change around sorting at source, reducing, reusing and recycling among women and youth; and to promote early success stories from young entrepreneurs willing to engage in SWM solutions.

[2] This is subject to change based on the selection of the winners and development of grant applications (related specifically to each idea). A dedicated MEL table tailored to each grant award will be included in the final grant package that will be submitted to USAID for approval.

[1] Social Behavior Change campaigns usually have a certain budget to reach a targeted number of people. Applicants would be encouraged to find an efficient way to reach more people for same budgets or same number of people for less budgets

How to apply 


See DAWERR Innovation Challenge Request for Application #23-RFA-25 attached for more details. 

Monday, 12. Jun 2023
Type of Call
Call for Applications
Intervention Sector(s):
Advocacy & Awareness, Development, Environment