Coronavirus: Scotch whisky brand Chivas to distribute $1m prize fund among finalists due to Covid-19

Blended Scotch whisky Chivas is to evenly distribute a $1 million ($872,000) fund for start-ups amongst finalists – including one Scottish venture – due to the current global Covid-19 outbreak.
The Chivas Venture is now in its sixth year. Picture: John Devlin.The Chivas Venture is now in its sixth year. Picture: John Devlin.
The Chivas Venture is now in its sixth year. Picture: John Devlin.

The Chivas Venture is now in its sixth year, and gives away $1m in no-strings funding to start-ups who “blend profit with purpose to have a positive impact on the world”.

This year’s competition has seen 26 social enterprises selected from 26 countries across five continents.

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The finalists – who were due to pitch for a share of the fund at a global final in June – will now each receive $40,000 in funding with immediate effect, which can be put towards creating positive change at what the brand described as a “testing” time for people across the globe.

Among the list is Crover, which has created a small robotic device capable of moving within grain stores to monitor the condition of the product, with the aim of reducing waste and saving countless stocks each year.

The Edinburgh-based firm is led by Lorenzo Conti. He commented in January when the firm’s shortlisting was revealed: ”When I started my PhD, I wanted to invent something novel and significant – something that could change the world for the better. I’m so grateful that the Chivas Venture is giving me this opportunity to represent Scotland and bring my vision to life.”

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Pernod Ricard chairman and chief executive 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.”

This year’s finalists are tackling various social, environmental and economic challenges, many of which have been exacerbated by the global pandemic, especially in at-risk or isolated communities. They include Okra Solar, a start-up from Australia that is giving access to energy and electricity to those who live off grid, and Raizs in Brazil, which connects organic farming families directly with consumers.

To date, the Chivas Venture has given away $5 million to social start-ups who have benefited more than 2 million lives across 50 countries. Positive actions include providing 34 million litres of safe drinking water to communities, recycling 1,300 tonnes of waste, helping more than 2,500 farmers’ families out of poverty, and funding in excess of 75,000 days of education for women and girls.

Last year at the Chivas Venture Global Final in Amsterdam, social start-up Xilinat from Mexico was awarded the largest share of the fund, with founder Javier Larragoiti receiving $310,000 towards his sugar business that aims to change the industry.

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