My Internship Journey: Exploring Climate Tech in the Middle East

Anthony Mouawad

When I joined the Climate Tech Bootcamp for an internship, a global virtual programme that supports early-stage climate entrepreneurs, I had no idea what I was getting into.

My background as a civil engineer had taken me across Africa, working on construction projects, but this was a whole new ballgame. My task was to figure out if starting a venture capital fund for climate startups in the Middle East was a smart move.

At the start, everything seemed pretty vague. The idea of a climate-focused VC fund sounded great, but I quickly realised there was an overwhelming amount of information out there. I had just a month to sort through it all, and I was flying solo on this project.

The first big hurdle was defining exactly what I needed to focus on. A chat with the CEO cleared things up, reminding me of the power of effective communication. It turned out that I needed to narrow down my research scope.

This lesson in clarity and focus wasn't just for the project; it was a skill I'd take forward with me.

Now, let's talk about independence. Communication with the CEO was slow, which meant I had to rely on my own judgment and initiative. This was a big shift from working in teams, but it taught me to trust myself and my decision-making abilities. This newfound autonomy was my ticket to building a solid foundation for my research.

The first step was creating a database for climate tech startups, incubators, and accelerators in the Middle East. Compiling a comprehensive database of startup information, including their operations and potential for success, further emphasised the viability of this venture.

It was a lot of data crunching, but it opened my eyes to the various sectors with high growth potential in the climate tech arena.

The second step involved identifying the high potential growth sectors in climate technology and understanding the strategies and regulations of companies, investors and governments coming into play. This was like solving a puzzle, where each piece represented a potential breakthrough.

Upon completing these steps, the picture became clearer. The roles that a venture capital fund could play in the climate tech landscape emerged. The fund had the potential to be a driving force, nurturing innovation and simultaneously generating profits.

What struck me the most was the untapped potential in the MENA region.

There was a genuine effort to combat climate change, and it wasn't just lip service. The more I dug, the more I realised that real progress was being made, and that was truly inspiring.

ClimateTech Bootcamp
The internship was remote but I did get to the visit “The Garage” in Saudi Arabia, an innovation hub for startups on a separate project.

The most satisfying moments came not from the reports and numbers, but from the conversations I had and the people I met. The passion these individuals had for climate innovation was contagious. It reinforced the idea that my work was contributing to something bigger – a movement towards a more sustainable future.

As my time at the bootcamp drew to a close, I walked away with more than just data and insights.

This internship was a reality check and a reality boost.

It showed me how to navigate chaos, find structure, and embrace independence. It was a concrete experience that made me believe in the potential of climate tech innovation and the genuine impact it can have.

Looking ahead, I'm armed with lessons that will stick with me. This journey wasn't just about evaluating a business idea; it was about discovering my own ability to adapt and make a meaningful contribution.

And so, as I step out of the bootcamp and into the next phase of my journey, I do so with a clearer understanding of how climate tech can be a catalyst for change.

This internship experience was supported by the INSEAD Hoffmann Institute Impact Internship Stipend and gifts from alumni.