Actress, entrepreneur and philanthropist Zoe Saldana was in Amsterdam to help select the winner of the 2019 Chivas Venture – a social startup competition that gives away $1m in no-strings funding to businesses who blend profit with purpose to have a positive impact on the world. From 20 global finalists, Mexico’s Xilinat walked away with the largest amount of funding, receiving $310,000, following a live pitch at Europe’s leading tech festival, TNW Conference.
Looking to transform the global sugar industry, Xilinat converts agricultural waste into a natural sugar substitute that looks and tastes like normal sugar yet is low in calories; helping tackle obesity while providing a sustainable alternative for diabetics and the health-conscious.
Reacting to his win, Javier Larragoiti, Co-Founder and CEO of Xilinat said:
“This moment tastes pretty sweet! I’m super happy to have been crowned winner of the Chivas Venture 2019; with this funding we can go ten times bigger – and that means helping so many more people around the world.”
Chivas Venture judge Zoe Saldana commented on our collective responsibility to drive positive impact:
“We are all responsible for the future of our planet and our societies; we need our governments to be agents of positive change and it’s up to us to let them know when they’re doing a good job and when they’re not.
“Big businesses around the world also need to take responsibility and I’m in awe of what Chivas as a brand is doing; investing funds and driving awareness of these incredible entrepreneurs who are building businesses that are making our world a better place.”
The Global Final – hosted by BAFTA winning actor and director, Richard Ayoade – was the culmination of the fifth year of the Chivas Venture. This year’s competition featured 20 entrepreneurs from across the world, all competing for a share of Chivas’ $1 million fund. Through quarter and semi-final pitches, the 20 finalists were whittled down to five Grand Finalists, who had just three minutes to impress a panel of judges and an audience of global business leaders, tech professionals, investors and entrepreneurs.