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Tech entrepreneur and creative innovator will.iam was in Amsterdam  to help select and crown the winner of the Chivas Venture 2018Chivas Regal’s global competition that gives away Sh101 million in no-strings funding every year to the world’s most promising social startups.

From 27 finalists, U.K. enterprise Change Please walked away with the greatest amount of funding, receiving Sh35 million following a live pitch at Europe’s leading tech festival, TNW Conference, in front of thousands of international tech enthusiasts, investors and entrepreneurs.

Change Please empowers the homeless community by training them to be baristas. The London-based startup takes the homeless off the streets and ensures they find housing within 10 days as well as providing bank accounts and jobs paying the London Living Wage. Their coffee, served in environmentally-friendly cups, is responsibly sourced from farms that support local communities in need.

Reacting to his win, Founder of Change Please Cemal Ezel said: “I’m so happy – I think I’m still in shock. It’s been a hard and long journey, but to have made 26 incredible new friends from all over the world – that’s been the real highlight for me. The last four months have been amazing; I just want to give a huge thanks to Chivas.”

The four other finalists to receive significant funding were: Mestic from the Netherlands Sh20 million which converts cow manure waste into biotextiles, bioplastics and biopaper; Spain’s BraiBook Sh10 million creator of the first Braille eReader; The Picha Project from Malaysia Sh5 million which supports marginalised communities through a sustainable food catering and delivery business; and change: WATER Labs from the USA, Sh5 million which has developed low-cost, waterless toilets for non-sewered households and communities around the world.

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I am a journalist, fashion show choreographer, a backstage manager, an actress and the owner of buzzcentral.co.ke. As a journalist, I specifically focus on entertainment and feature writing.

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