An Innovative Marketplace
May Al-Karooni is the CEO and Founder of Globechain, a reuse marketplace that connects enterprises to charities, small businesses and people to redistribute unneeded items, generating social impact data.
She previously worked within the investment banking and asset management industry, fundraising companies for venture capital, property, and hedge funds for the last 10 years totalling over £120 million in funds raised and in 2015, May set up Globechain after seeing a demand for a new online circular economy within the waste management industry after her own bank employer expressed a need to reuse items more collaboratively.
Disposal of Assets
When the bank May worked for moved oﬃces across the road, they disposed of all the furniture which was still in great condition. This was the light bulb moment—no one had digitized the waste industry, and there were people out there that needed these things, not to mention the cost the bank had incurred on the disposal of the items. She used £800, and set up the ﬁrst Globechain website and bootstrapped the company for four years because there was no market cap, which meant she couldn’t get funding. This made her realize that waste companies measured the wrong things economically, so she created the ESG data side of Globechain.
Retail, Construction, Hospitality, Medical
According to the European Commission, approximately 25% – 30% of all waste generated in the EU by construction is from demolitions alone and food waste in the restaurant sector is still a big issue, but as with many types of businesses, opportunities for reducing waste extend beyond the obvious. The items being replaced in these businesses are rarely at the end of their usable life cycle but often end up as waste anyway. The retail sector manages large amounts of property, and those properties often need to be refurbished and, reﬁtted. The ﬁttings and ﬁxtures that come out of these refurbishments often become surplus items with no place to go.
Waste as a Resource
Instead of sending these items from refurbishments to landﬁlls or incineration, it’s possible to create social impact through reuse. Globechain aims to address these issues with a reuse marketplace for listing materials, furniture and equipment, and redistributing them to charities and organizations that need it. Corporates pay a membership fee instead of disposal costs and receive Environmental Social Governance (ESG) data in return. May believes all businesses in the future will be commercial with a conscience.
A Healthy and Passionate Culture
Globechain’s current team is intrinsic to the growth of the marketplace, so it’s really important that the culture is healthy and passions align with what the company stands for. Each team member takes ownership of their area and is given the ﬂexibility to master it. Being a new business model, May encourages them to be fearless and take risks by trying new things. They work strongly as a team, respecting each other as individuals and recognizing that sometimes the best ideas come from the most unlikely sources.
“Being patient, mentally strong, empathetic and self-conﬁdent are the key attributes to being an entrepreneur. Have a vision, believe in it and create a plan on how to make it a reality. Trust the people around you, challenge them and give them the tools to achieve their dreams and ambitions,” says May Al-Karooni.
It’s quite challenging as the founder to maintain a balance. At the beginning, May found it diﬃcult to take time oﬀ and not be working 24/7. She had to put in the time to grow the business to where it is today. In the last year or two, she has made a conscious eﬀort to take time out, her daily ‘me time’ includes meditation and going to the gym, and now she tries not to work over the weekends unless it is necessary.
Tech for Good
Every business in the future will be a technology company. However, May believes we need to ensure technology does good in the process. Although it is natural to assume everyone is at the same level, sometimes the simplest solution is the most eﬀective.
Network of Charities
Globechain has over 10,000 members working with some of the world’s largest brands across multiple sectors including; retail, construction, hospitality and medical, as well as growing a large network of charities nationally and internationally. Last year 5,100,000 kilos were diverted from landﬁll items being redistributed within the UK and Spain, as well as Sierra Leone, Guinea, Libya, and Ukraine providing savings of over £2,000,000 to charitable causes.
In 2019, Globechain launched in Spain, United Arab Emirates, (New York in 2020), hosted a panel at COP25 Madrid and won multiple awards including May being recognized as one of the Women Leading in Real Estate.