Startup of the Week: Dubai fashion startup Reluxable takes sustainable luxury online

Businesswoman Marie-Hélène Stavelot (L) is the founder and CEO of Reluxable, an online aggregator which brings together luxury second-hand items from across the web. (Supplied)
Businesswoman Marie-Hélène Stavelot (L) is the founder and CEO of Reluxable, an online aggregator which brings together luxury second-hand items from across the web. (Supplied)
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Updated 12 December 2021

Startup of the Week: Dubai fashion startup Reluxable takes sustainable luxury online

Businesswoman Marie-Hélène Stavelot (L) is the founder and CEO of Reluxable, an online aggregator which brings together luxury second-hand items from across the web. (Supplied)
  • The site, launched in October, sells everything from Hermes bags, to Audemar Piaget watches, to Manolo Blahnik shoes

DUBAI: Businesswoman Marie-Hélène Stavelot has taken a teenage hobby and turned it into a Dubai-based sustainable fashion technology business.

Stavelot is the founder and CEO of Reluxable, an online aggregator which brings together luxury second-hand items from across the web.

The site, launched in October, sells everything from Hermes bags, to Audemar Piaget watches, to Manolo Blahnik shoes.

It houses authorized second-hand online retailers from all over the world such as The Luxury Closet in the Middle East and North Africa, Collector Square based in Paris, and What Goes Around Comes Around from New York.

Aside from identifying a gap in the luxury market, Stavelot’s startup has sustainability at its heart.

She said: “Usually, it’s up to the eco-conscious consumer to find second-hand stores and dig for their treasures. 

“The idea for the business came to me during the pandemic when I had to spend time searching multiple sites or going to 10 different shops looking for a specific item. With Reluxable, you can search for a single item across several sites in one go to find exactly what you need.”

Shoppers are connected with multiple reputable stores online to browse women’s and men’s fashion items, clothing, shoes and bags.

Stavelot added: “In Belgium, where I grew up, I started buying and selling my luxury second-hand items when I was 17 years old. 

“Then I went through a phase of enjoying fast fashion like everyone else, because it is low cost and accessible. Now, I invest in key pieces that last.”

The Belgian-born entrepreneur also has family from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and worked in banking and at a financial technology firm in Dubai before starting her business.

Stavelot leads an all-female team, which includes her sister Olivia Atembina, who is chief operating officer. She raised finance for the business from family and friends and is currently pitching to investors for $1 million to expand the team and add a shopping cart to the site to help consumers buy items across the platforms it has access to. 

An example for many women-led startups is the US-based female-focused dating app Bumble, led by CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd, which in February floated on Nasdaq with an $8 billion valuation after launching in 2014.

But Stavelot is aware that attracting funding will not be easy. 

Only 2 percent of funded startups between 2014 and 2020 were led by women in the MENA region, according to figures from regional startup data platform MAGNiTT. 

Research from Dubai-based technology conference GITEX this year also revealed that more than 85 percent of global venture capital went to startups founded or led by men.

“I know I have a sound business model, but it has been difficult to secure funding,” she said. “I hope that someone like me who struggles in a male-dominated market can get support. It’s not easy, but I will persevere.”

Her venture comes at a time when there is a push to increase business sustainability across the Gulf region. 

In October, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a Middle East Green Initiative, aimed at raising SR39 billion ($10.4 billion) for an investment fund to back clean energy projects as part of efforts to reduce regional carbon emissions. 

The UAE will also host the global climate summit COP28 in 2023.

The steps are in place for online startups such as Reluxable to make their mark — one click at a time.


Saudi sovereign wealth fund considers new hydrogen company; developing 70% of vision 2030 renewable target

Saudi sovereign wealth fund considers new hydrogen company; developing 70% of vision 2030 renewable target
Updated 20 May 2022

Saudi sovereign wealth fund considers new hydrogen company; developing 70% of vision 2030 renewable target

Saudi sovereign wealth fund considers new hydrogen company; developing 70% of vision 2030 renewable target

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is now establishing a new hydrogen company and it will be like a mediator in many of the PIF’s initiatives.

Speaking in a regional forum on ESG organized by the Future Investment Initiative in London, the governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan said the sovereign wealth fund  plans to develop 70 percent of renewable energy targets under vision 2030.

The fund owns companies that are already developing hydrogen such as NEOM and Aramco. 

Rewilding Arabia
Return of the leopard is at the heart of plans to conserve and regenerate Saudi Arabia’s landscapes and wildlife
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PIF governor and BlackRock’s CEO leads discussions on ESG in emerging markets in FII’s first regional summit

PIF governor and BlackRock’s CEO leads discussions on ESG in emerging markets in FII’s first regional summit
Updated 20 May 2022

PIF governor and BlackRock’s CEO leads discussions on ESG in emerging markets in FII’s first regional summit

PIF governor and BlackRock’s CEO leads discussions on ESG in emerging markets in FII’s first regional summit

RIYADH: The Future Investment Initiative Foundation will host its first ever regional summit on Friday, in Rosewood London, England, entitled Inclusive Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance in Emerging Markets.

The most prominent participants in the event include the FII Chairman and Governor of the Public Investment Fund, Yasser Al-Rumayyan, Egypt’s Minister of Environment, Yasmine Fouad and Blackrock CEO Larry Fink.

The summit will bring together international investors, world leaders, thought leaders, policy makers, global CEOs, and chiefs of sustainability to discuss and shape the future of ESG, particularly in emerging markets.

“The planet has major problems with climate, with destruction of nature, peace and security. But we also have tremendous resources, including our common humanity,” Executive Director of the FII Institute, Richard Attias said.

“We believe that ESG is an important tool to bring us together and channel capital to meet these challenges,” he said.

Using ESG standards to make investment decisions is a global boom, with assets expected to reach $53 trillion, about a third of global assets under management, by 2025, a statement showed.

Still, the lack of a framework for the effective implementation of ESG in emerging economies represent a stumbling block for investors. 

The FII says it will finally have the tool needed to develop sustainable investment strategies in these markets, through its proprietary measurement framework, developed in collaboration with investors, global companies, and FII’s strategic partners.

The Foundation works to impact humanity across four focus areas: artificial intelligence, robotics, education, health care, and sustainability.

The event is part of a series of events hosted by the Foundation, which will culminate in the sixth edition of the annual FII Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in October.

 

The PIF view

The PIF understands that being engaged in ESG is the right thing to do, Rania Nashar, head of compliance and governance at the fund, told the conference.

PIF companies are announcing emission reductions but it's not only about the destination, it is about the journey, she added.

“We approach the ESG through multiple aspects. Through creating platforms, sponsoring events and launching initiatives,” she said.


China’s April Saudi oil imports soar 38 percent on year, Russian oil up 4 percent

China’s April Saudi oil imports soar 38 percent on year, Russian oil up 4 percent
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Updated 20 May 2022

China’s April Saudi oil imports soar 38 percent on year, Russian oil up 4 percent

China’s April Saudi oil imports soar 38 percent on year, Russian oil up 4 percent

China’s crude oil imports from top supplier Saudi Arabia soared 38 percent in April from a year earlier, hitting the highest monthly volume since May 2020, according to Reuters’ calculations based on official Chinese customs data.

Saudi shipments amounted to 8.93 million tons last month, equivalent to 2.17 million barrels per day, according to data from the Chinese General Administration of Customs.

The hefty purchases, with trades completed mostly in February, compare with 1.61 million bpd in March and 1.57 million bpd a year earlier.

Imports from second-largest supplier Russia rose a more modest 4 percent last month from a year earlier, with cargoes booked before western governments toughened sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Russian oil arrivals in April totalled 6.55 million tons, or 1.59 million bpd, data showed, up slightly from 1.5 million bpd in March and 1.53 million bpd a year earlier.

China’s overall crude oil imports last month rose nearly 7 percent on the year, its first rise in three months, although widespread COVID-19 lockdowns crimped fuel demand and dampened refinery output.

Friday’s data showed zero imports in April from Iran. However, customs next month is likely to report for May the import of nearly 2 million barrels of Iranian oil that was being discharged this week into a reserve base in south China.

Despite US sanctions on Iran, China has kept taking Iranian oil passed off as supplies from other countries. The import levels are roughly equivalent to 7 percent of China’s total crude oil imports.

Iranian oil, often priced lower than competing grades, have squeezed out rival supplies such as from Brazil and West Africa.

Customs reported zero imports from Venezuela, as state oil firms shunned purchases since late 2019 for fear of falling afoul of secondary US sanctions.

Imports from Malaysia, often used as a transfer point in the last two years for oil originating from Iran and Venezuela, jumped 84 percent on year to 2.165 million tons, the second highest on record.


Saudi tourism ministry signs deals to boost localization program

 Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism signs two agreements. (Twitter/@Saudi_MT)
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism signs two agreements. (Twitter/@Saudi_MT)
Updated 20 May 2022

Saudi tourism ministry signs deals to boost localization program

 Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism signs two agreements. (Twitter/@Saudi_MT)

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism has signed two agreements to enhance joint cooperation and support training and localization programs to qualify those wishing to work in the hospitality sector.
The move, which aims to support workers in the food, beverage and accommodation sectors, in support of achieving the Kingdom’s’ tourism human capacity development strategy.
Bandar bin Mohammed Al-Safir, director general of training and localization at the ministry, stressed that these two agreements aim to develop human resources in the tourism sector through quality training programs that will contribute to developing localized skills in the tourism sector.
Under the two agreements, which were signed with Kempinski Al-Othman Hotel and Carlton Al-Moaibed Hotel, the ministry will support dualifying Saudi nationals in the tourism sector within the “Your Future has Arrived” initiative.


Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO

Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO
Updated 20 May 2022

Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO

Venture capital and microfinance firms should focus on startups, says Al Ahli Holding Group CEO

DUBAI: Mohamed Khammas, CEO of Al Ahli Holding Group, said that startup businesses are an excellent opportunity for investment in venture capital funds and microfinance banks.

During an interview with Arab News at the Top CEO event in Dubai, Khammas Mohamed Khammas, CEO of Al Ahli Holding Group, highlighted that startups are a good investment idea because the “ticket size is smaller, and the product ranges are higher.”

Khammas pointed out the risks that arise for startups are not in their early stages but rather when they become successful.

“The challenge is not when they’re trying to have a major impact on the economy; the problems occur when they become successful. All of those are calculated risks,” he said.

Khammas continued to add that regardless of these risks, investing in new, innovative startups is “absolutely the best opportunity.”

Also, during his talk at the event, Khammas  urged banks to fund new and innovative products and ideas in the area after he shed light on how banks are hesitant to invest in creative ideas.