A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

WashyWash co-founder Kamel Almani and the firm’s dedicated app. (Supplied)
Updated 05 December 2019

A Jordan startup delivers eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning

  • Products used by WashyWash are non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral
  • Amman-based laundry service aims to relocate to a larger facility in mid-2020

AMMAN: A persistent sinus problem prompted a Jordanian entrepreneur to launch an eco-friendly dry-cleaning service that could help end the widespread use of a dangerous chemical.

“Dry cleaning” is somewhat of a misnomer because it is not really dry. It is true that no water is involved in the process, but the main cleaning agent is perchloroethylene (PERC), a chemical that experts consider likely to cause cancer, as well as brain and nervous system damage.

Kamel Almani, 33, knew little of these dangers when he began suffering from sinus irritation while working as regional sales director at Eon Aligner, a medical equipment startup he co-founded.

The problem would disappear when he went on vacation, so he assumed it was stress related.

However, when Mazen Darwish, a chemical engineer, revealed he wanted to start an eco-laundry and warned about toxic chemicals used in conventional dry cleaning, Almani had an epiphany.

“He began to tell me how PERC affects the respiratory system, and I suddenly realized that it was the suits I wore for work — and which I would get dry cleaned — that were the cause of my sinus problems,” said Almani, co-founder of Amman-based WashyWash.

“That was the eureka moment. We immediately wanted to launch the business.”

WashyWash began operations in early 2018 with five staff, including the three co-founders: Almani, Darwish and Kayed Qunibi. The business now has 19 employees and became cash flow-positive in July this year.

“We’re very happy to achieve that in under two years,” Almani said.

The service uses EcoClean products that are certified as toxin-free, are biodegradable and cause no air, water or soil pollution.

Customers place orders through an app built in-house by the company’s technology team.

WashyWash collects customers’ dirty clothes, and cleans, irons and returns them. Services range from the standard wash-and-fold to specialized dry cleaning for garments and cleaning of carpets, curtains, duvets and leather goods.

“For wet cleaning, we use environmentally friendly detergents that are biodegradable, so the wastewater doesn’t contain any toxic chemicals,” Almani said.

For dry cleaning, WashyWash uses a modified hydrocarbon manufactured by Germany’s Seitz, whose product is non-carcinogenic and environmentally neutral.

A specialized company collects the waste and disposes of it safely.

The company has big ambitions, planning to expand its domestic operations and go international. Its Amman site can process about 1,000 items daily, but WashyWash will relocate to larger premises in mid-2020, which should treble its capacity.

“We’ve built a front-end app, a back-end system and a driver app along with a full facility management system. We plan to franchise that and have received interest from many countries,” Almani said.

“People visiting Amman used our service, loved it, and wanted an opportunity to launch in their countries.”

WashyWash has received financial backing from angel investors and is targeting major European cities initially.

“An eco-friendly, on-demand dry-cleaning app isn’t available worldwide, so good markets might be London, Paris or Frankfurt,” Almani said.

 

• The Middle East Exchange is one of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Global Initiatives that was launched to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai in the field of humanitarian
and global development, to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region. The initiative offers the press a series of articles on issues affecting Arab societies.

 


Dubai’s Jumeirah eyes Saudi mega-projects

Updated 15 min 12 sec ago

Dubai’s Jumeirah eyes Saudi mega-projects

  • NEOM and Red Sea scheme high on group’s ‘address’ list, CEO tells Arab News

DAVOS: Jumeirah, the leading hotels and leisure group in the Middle East, is planning big developments in Saudi Arabia’s “mega-projects,” CEO Jose Silva told Arab News on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos.

“We must be in those locations, but I want to make sure we get the right ‘address.’ Jumeiah always wants to be among the top three sites on any location. If someone convinces me this is the right address, I will jump into it,” he said.

Silva made clear he was thinking primarily about the two big development on the Kingdom’s west coast — the NEOM metropolis and the Red Sea project further south along the coast. He is believed to be in contact with Saudi Arabian tourism authorities and potential partners in the Kingdom.

Silva also said that Jumeirah was keen to open hotels in Makkah and Madinah, which he called “preferred entry” points in the Kingdom. Work has already begun on two sites.

“It is very important for us to acquire the right assets and the right designers. Unless we control the architect, we will not do it. We have to be involved in the design process,” he said.

A big presence in Saudi Arabia would be part of the strategy of “going global” that Silva has advanced in his first two years a head of the UAE-based hotels, leisure and restaurants business, which is owned by the government
of Dubai.

Last year, Jumeirah bought the Capri Palace on the eponymous Italian island, and is also involved in a major expansion plan in Asia, with six new projects underway in China, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Silva is also overseeing a $100 million renovation of the Carlton hotel in London’s Belgravia. Expansion via luxury hotel properties in other European capitals is also being considered.

In Dubai, he has brought in world-class managers to restaurants in the group’s flagship properties in Madinat and Burj Al Arab, with a clutch of “celebrity chefs” in place in restaurants there. 

“We want to be the best brand for ‘destination dining’,” he said.