Up-fuse: Your everyday bags that love & respect Earth & people

Cairo, EgyptCairo, Egypt
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

In Egypt, we produce around THREE MILLION TONS of plastic waste Yearly! an amount could cover the city of Cairo 55 times! Contaminating our health, soil, and water. That's why Up-fuse upcycles plastic bags into fashionable well-designed bags, that is good for people and the environment.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we can create treasure out of wasted plastic bags? Turning pollution risk into job opportunities, that supports income to local artisans and spreads awareness about plastic bags over consumption? A bag that looks good and makes you feel good!
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Plastic bags overconsumption in Egypt and the world. The excessive waste created from Plastic bags is hazardeous, since they take from 500-1000 years to biodegrade. Even though there are alternative solutions, but plastic bags are the hardest to recycle, plus the core of the problem comes from the consumer who needs to be aware of the harmful effects

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

By producing fashionable bags and other accessory products from upcycled plastic bags. We merge between design and environmentally friendly products, in which one bag we produce can upcycle 30 plastic bags, providing income to 5 underprivileged families and encouraging local artisans and designers to work with eco-friendly materials. All materials we use in our production is either environmentally friendly, organically made, or locally produced. Not just that, but as Up-fuse, we are keen to spread awareness through our products about plastic bags overconsumption, providing them with alternative solutions of eco-friendly products.


Injaz Start-Up Award 2014 - Egypt, Incubated under The Do School Hamburg, Germany
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

We focus on three main aspects: 1. Behavioral Change: which is the social awareness we try to create through our products and our campaign about plastic bags overconsumption, and becoming more aware of the environment and products purchasing habits. 2. Environmental Impact: in one product we upcycle around 30 plastic bags, our plastic bags are collected by two scenarios; collecting directly from houses and offices before plastic bags are sent to landfills. and collecting and cleaning from garbage collectors & training them the upcycling process, using less energy than recycling. 3. Social Impact: We mainly work with local NGOs that support adolescents and adults to education while gaining income from green craft making & local production

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

In only 3 months, since we have re-launched and re-branded, we upcycled 1,400 plastic bags (93 KG) by producing 150 products. We are currently providing income to 5 garbage collectors and upcyclers, 2 sewers/artisans, that is without considering the indirect benefit to local suppliers and local material producers in Egypt (organic cotton suppliers, and eco-friendly materials). In one year we want to be able to upcycle 36,000 plastic bags, and reaching to 40,00 audience The future impact is providing a healthier environment to garbage collecting communities, and new upcycling techniques to generate from plastic waste that is good to the environment and most importantly to these communities. Techniques that use less energy, and is more fair to their working conditions. So as openning opportunities for creating more products that are good to the environment with the new upcycled material.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The aim is to duplicate production hubs around different Garbage collecting points across Egypt, and even duplicating the same techniques across the world. But in a 5 year plan the aim is to at least work with 5 different NGO's in Cairo, that support adolescents and adults to continue their education, while providing them with income from upcycling crafting, and encouraging local designers and bag producers in Cairo who have been harmed by China-made products. We want each small item and detail in the products produced to be produced locally and to be green.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Our financial sustainability is dependent on selling the products we produce, which we provide directly to customers, retailers, as well as businesses (which we offer customised giveaways to companies and organisations that want to be socially and environmentally responsible) We address an international market since ethical & sustainable fashion and products scene is growing, since the target market nationally is still not mature enough.

Founding Story

Yara Yassin and Rania Rafie, founded Up-fuse (after re-branding two times) in 2013 as a project during a semester abroad in Berlin, Germany. Originally from Cairo, Egypt and, both product designers are crazy about traveling, coffee, and sustainability, decided to do use their passion for Design and their hate of overconsumption to come up with a solution that supports their communities, and raises awareness, and decreases waste; turning risk into opportunity. Up-fuse grew from a simple project that studied plastic bags overconsumption into a social enterprise that promotes eco-conscious lifestyles by designing and producing everyday bags that love and respect earth and people.


Yara Yassin: Design Director, Rania Rafie: Managing Director. Both studied Product Design, Rania has management skills as she has worked as a Fabrication Lab Manager at a green tech hub called "icecairo", while Yara has the hands-on experience as she worked as a product design freelancer for projects by UNIDO to support communities in Upper Egypt, and has worked as a product designer intern in a design studio in South Germany. We have product designer interns and marketing interns, but the team will be able to grow into hiring the interns, and hiring an operation manager.
Value Chain: Where does your work fit into the apparel value chain? [check all that apply]

Raw Materials, Manufacturing, Consumption.

Your Role: What is your relationship to the apparel industry? [check all that apply]

Brand Representative, Designer, Factory Owner, Supplier - subcontractor.

Target Population: What stakeholder groups do you engage or empower in your work? [check all that apply]

Consumers, Corporations, Designers, Factory Workers, Retailers - Specialty Store, Women, Youth.

● Intervention Focus: What are you trying to achieve / influence? [check all that apply]

Environmentally Sustainable Practices, Labor Rights (i.e. Collective Bargaining, etc.), Recycling or Circular Economy, Physical Working Conditions, Transparency.

Lever for Change: Select up to 3 ways your work is helping to transform the industry.

Standards, Other, [please specify].

Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers?

A Job is Not Enough: Low-Income Workers Cannot Secure Long-Term Well-Being, Consumers Aren't Motivated to Care: Neither Compelling Reasons Nor Easy Means to Change Consumption Habits, Sustainability is Not Yet in the DNA: Fast Fashion’s Current Model Disincentivizes Value-Driven Economies.

Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below?

Activate Local Know-how for Driving Solutions: Build Opportunities for Workers to Become Leaders, Transform the Chain into a Web: Link Unlikely Sectors that Open New Pathways to Sustainability.

Innovation Inspiration: When you first conceived of your project, did you think of it as applicable to the apparel industry?


If you answered "no" to the previous question, which industry was your project originally aimed at transforming?

Environment, Green consumerism, Labor, Sustainable development, Recycling.

● Replicating in the Apparel Industry: If your project didn't initially target the apparel industry, how are you specifically tailoring it to do so now?

The material created from the upcycling process can be used in different applications, which we already use in creating bags

Are you nurturing or inspiring others to be changemakers? If so, how?

We work with social influencers to spread awareness of conscious consumerism.

● Tell us about the partnerships that enhance your approach. How have you collaborated with others in the industry to increase your impact?

We now partnered with one local NGO to work as producers. Three companies to provide them with sustainable packaging