By: Dani Savin
In the midst of the global pandemic, a spark of inspiration ignited the journey of Envo, a trailblazing startup founded by Zahra Hussain. Envo’s genesis dates back to the summer of 2020, a time when the world grappled with unprecedented challenges. However, it was the environmental crisis in Pakistan that truly motivated Zahra’s heart and set the wheels of innovation in motion.
In Pakistan, pollution had reached alarming levels, with air quality plummeting to dangerous lows. At her school, the adverse effects of plastic consumption were evident, leading to the ban of plastic straws. Yet, a void remained – no suitable alternative existed. The school canteen took the plastic straws off juice boxes, a transition that proved both amusing and inconvenient.
Zahra recognized the gap – the absence of a practical replacement for plastic straws. Seizing the moment, she and her highschool best friend embarked on a mission to not only address Pakistan’s plastic predicament but also to create a sustainable business with a global impact. Enter Hasan Khokhar and Caroline Saunders, and together their vision extended beyond merely offering an alternative for plastic straws. They envisioned Envo as a force for positive change, advocating for a cleaner planet by repurposing abundant resources. Leveraging Pakistan’s agricultural wealth, the duo ingeniously transformed wheat stems, typically discarded as agricultural waste, into sturdy and eco-friendly drinking straws.
Envo’s unique value proposition stems from its commitment to durability and sustainability. While paper straws often fall short, becoming soggy after a few sips, Envo’s wheat stem straws stand strong. By transforming agricultural byproducts into refined products, they confront the issue of waste head-on.
When asked why she applied to Jumpstart, Zahra shared that “Jumpstart was a chance to rekindle my passion for entrepreneurship amidst the academic demands of college. As international students, we faced a lot of challenges – yet we found solace in the collaborative and helpful community at The Garage. Jumpstart was the perfect opportunity to focus on learning about entrepreneurship without anything else on my mind.” Hasan later joined, stating how “Zahra’s involvement in The Garage and Jumpstart drew me towards the startup ecosystem. Jumpstart is an incredible program because we are connected to many other students with the same mindset and are provided with an immeasurable amount of resources.”
Through resilience, innovation, and the support of like-minded individuals, Zahra and Hasan of Envo continue to forge a path toward a more sustainable future, one wheat stem straw at a time. Their journey exemplifies the power of inspiration, determination, and collaboration in creating positive change.
Check out Envo’s wheat straw here!
Dani is an incoming freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, studying Journalism and RTVF at the The College of Letters and Sciences. Dani joined the team at The Garage to help facilitate the 2023 Jumpstart Pre-Accelerator summer program, working as a key pillar of the community to assist in daily operations and event execution, curate content for digital, print, and video publication, and strengthen community bonds.