Gobi Partners Bolster Commitment To Sustainability With Investment In ERTH

Asian-focused venture capital firm, Gobi Partners announced a strategic investment in Electronic Recycling Through Heroes (ERTH), a local leader in electronic waste (commonly known as e-waste) recycling, as part of its ongoing commitment to invest in circular economy-centric companies. L8 Ventures is also a co-investor for the round.

What sets ERTH apart is its dual-fold approach. It not only facilitates responsible e-waste disposal but also rewards contributors with cash incentives or vouchers. This approach fosters a community-driven commitment to environmental preservation while providing economic compensation.

ERTH achieves this by employing a gig-economy workforce of over 1,000 freelancers, referred to as “Heroes.” These Heroes play a pivotal role in collecting obsolete, faulty, and discarded electronics, such as laptops, smartphones, printers, televisions, and various devices, directly from households and businesses.

Since 2019, ERTH Heroes have collectively diverted more than 1,000,000 kilograms of e-waste from landfills. To put this into perspective, it’s equivalent to 1,053 Perodua Myvi cars or 13 Boeing 737 aeroplanes. As a result, the Malaysian Department of Environment has recognised ERTH as the largest authorised collector of e-waste in Malaysia.

Thomas G. Tsao, Co-founder and Chairperson of Gobi Partners said: “Our alignment with ERTH’s expansion strategy demonstrates our dedication to driving transformative change. Through this partnership, we’re not just investing in a company; we’re contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally-conscious future.”

As a symbolic gesture of this new beginning, Gobi colleagues collected their electronic waste, including used mobile phones, batteries, laptops, blenders and even an airconditioning unit which were then handed over to ERTH for proper disposal. This initiative is closely linked to Gobi’s Corporate Social Responsibility program, #GobiCares, addressing both community needs and environmental concerns.

The Southeast Asian Attraction

Established by the husband and wife team of Mohamed “Mo” Tarek El-Fatatry (Finnish citizen) and Nahed Bedir Eletribi (Egyptian citizen) in 2019, ERTH was born out of a desire to make a meaningful impact, particularly in waste reduction, with a focus on e-waste.

What drew the co-founders to Malaysia was the region’s pressing environmental challenge. According to the United Nations University, Southeast Asia faces a staggering e-waste problem, generating a whopping 12.3 million metric tons of e-waste in 2021 alone. This situation has escalated from a concern to an urgent crisis.

Improper disposal and recycling of e-waste can lead to severe environmental consequences. When electronic devices aren’t recycled correctly, hazardous materials like lead, mercury, and cadmium can contaminate soil, water, and air, posing risks to ecosystems and human health.

Mohamed “Mo” Tarek remarked: “Finland has consistently ranked among the cleanest countries in the world and I’m enthusiastic about applying Finnish best practices here in Malaysia to lead the way in e-waste recycling within Southeast Asia and ultimately work towards making Malaysia the cleanest country in this region. Our partnership with Gobi through the GDIV program is a perfect match, benefiting both our companies and contributing to the improvement of Malaysia’s environmental efforts.”

Nahed Eletribi added: “My vision for ERTH is to see widespread acceptance of our environmental initiatives, all geared towards improving the environment. With this funding, we aim to further extend ERTH’s influence, making a positive impact on the lives of everyone.”

Gobi Dana Impak Ventures Fund

With this funding, ERTH has joined the ranks of startups supported by the Khazanah Nasional-backed Gobi Dana Impak Ventures Fund (GDIV Fund). GDIV Fund is part of Khazanah’s initiative to bolster the local startup ecosystem, operating within Dana Impak’s Future Malaysia Programme. Dana Impak is a key pillar of Khazanah’s Advancing Malaysia strategy, with an RM6 billion allocation over five years.

Dana Impak aims to invest in six themes addressing local challenges. ERTH’s eco-friendly business model and financial empowerment of the public to recycle their e-waste aligns with four of these categories: digital society and technology, decent work and social mobility and building climate resilience.

Within the next 12 months, ERTH’s goal is to open more branches across Malaysia, thus enabling more Heroes to contribute to environmental protection while gaining financial benefits.

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