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Avengers Star Zoe Saldana Supports Social Startups at Final of Chivas Venture and Calls For Governments to Help Drive Positive Change

Mexico's Xilinat crowned winner of $1m startup competition with ambitions to revolutionise the sugar industry

AMSTERDAM, May 10, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Actress, entrepreneur and philanthropist Zoe Saldana was in Amsterdam to help select the winner of the 2019 Chivas Venture – a social startup competition that gives away $1m in no-strings funding to businesses who blend profit with purpose to have a positive impact on the world. From 20 global finalists, Mexico's Xilinat walked away with the largest amount of funding, receiving $310,000, following a live pitch at Europe's leading tech festival, TNW Conference.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 09: Chivas Venture judge Zoe Saldana attends the Chivas Venture Global Final at TNW Conference on May 09, 2019 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.The Chivas Venture gives $1m in no-strings funding every year to the hottest social startups from around the world. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images for The Chivas Venture).

Looking to transform the global sugar industry, Xilinat converts agricultural waste into a natural sugar substitute that looks and tastes like normal sugar yet is low in calories; helping tackle obesity while providing a sustainable alternative for diabetics and the health-conscious.

Reacting to his win, Javier Larragoiti, Co-Founder and CEO of Xilinat said:
"This moment tastes pretty sweet! I'm super happy to have been crowned winner of the Chivas Venture 2019; with this funding we can go ten times bigger - and that means helping so many more people around the world."

Chivas Venture judge Zoe Saldana commented on our collective responsibility to drive positive impact:
"We are all responsible for the future of our planet and our societies; we need our governments to be agents of positive change and it's up to us to let them know when they're doing a good job and when they're not.

"Big businesses around the world also need to take responsibility and I'm in awe of what Chivas as a brand is doing; investing funds and driving awareness of these incredible entrepreneurs who are building businesses that are making our world a better place."

The Global Final – hosted by BAFTA winning actor and director, Richard Ayoade – was the culmination of the fifth year of the Chivas Venture. This year's competition featured 20 entrepreneurs from across the world, all competing for a share of Chivas' $1 million fund. Through quarter and semi-final pitches, the 20 finalists were whittled down to five Grand Finalists, who had just three minutes to impress a panel of judges and an audience of global business leaders, tech professionals, investors and entrepreneurs.

The judging panel - which comprised Zoe Saldana; Alexandre Ricard (Chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard – parent company of Chivas Regal), Cemal Ezel (Founder of Change Please and global winner of the Chivas Venture 2018); and Sonal Shah (Economist and founding Executive Director of the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University) – assessed each startup based on their ability to create sustainable change through a viable business model and potential to scale.

In the four years since the competition started, the Chivas Venture has given away $4m in funding. In that time, the Chivas Venture Global Finalists have impacted over 2 million lives, in 50 countries, across 6 continents around the world – blending profit with purpose to drive major change, including providing over 34m litres of safe drinking water, recycling 1,300 tonnes of waste, and helping over 2,500 farmers' families out of poverty. Through the Chivas Venture, Chivas aims to show that blended is better, in life, business and Scotch – a belief instilled by founding brothers James and John, who shared their success with the local community as their business grew.

Pernod Ricard Chairman and CEO Alexandre Ricard added:

"The Chivas Venture is much more than a contest; it is an accelerator for social startups who blend profit with purpose. The impact of all our Global Finalists, and particularly our winner, Xilinat, will be felt across the world. The Chivas Venture is a true reflection of the spirit of the brand's founding brothers and I couldn't be more proud of the impact it has had to date."

The four other finalists to receive significant funding were: Syntoil from Poland ($250,000) – which is solving the environmental problem of rubber waste from used tires; Portugal's SPEAK ($110,000) – which breaks down cultural barriers by reducing the marginalization of immigrants and refugees through informal networking; Tykn from the Netherlands ($50,000) which leverages blockchain technology to protect immigrants and provide them with access to human aid; and Copia from the USA ($50,000) which tackles both hunger and food waste by creating a technological platform that helps businesses measure and donate their food surplus for financial compensation.

A People's Choice Award was also announced on the night, after over 135,000 votes were cast by the public in the lead-up to the Final. $50,000 was awarded to Brazil's Cataki, which has created a mobile app to connect waste generators with waste collectors.

The Global Final comes four weeks after Pernod Ricard unveiled its 2030 Sustainability & Responsibility roadmap - an ambitious set of environmental and social targets supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The new roadmap covers four key areas: nurturing terroir, valuing people, circular making and responsible hosting – all of which are closely aligned to the businesses championed by the Chivas Venture finalists.

Visit www.chivasventure.com to find out more about the Chivas Venture, and to sign up to the newsletter to receive updates on next year's competition.

#ChivasVenture / Twitter: @ChivasVenture

The Chivas Venture

The Chivas Venture gives away $1million in no-strings funding every year to the most promising social startups from around the world. Since the Chivas Venture first launched in 2014, almost 10,000 social enterprises have applied for the chance to receive a share of the annual $1 million fund. This year, 20 startups from 20 different countries are taking part in the Chivas Venture.

Last year in Amsterdam, Global Final judge will.i.am and host Richard Ayoade announced the majority winners of the $1m fund. Social startup Change Please from the United Kingdom was awarded the largest share of the fund, receiving over $350,000.

About Chivas                                                                                                                          

Chivas believes that blended is better, in life and in Scotch. Chivas' belief in blending was instilled by founding brothers, James and John Chivas, who pioneered the art of blending in 19th century Scotland. Since then, Chivas has been integral to the growth of the Scotch whisky category worldwide – by bringing together the best malt and grain whiskies to create something extraordinary.

Chivas champions a world where blended is better and believes in the power of blending in life, as well as in Scotch. In bringing people together to create a greater whole – which is why Chivas is proud to be the global spirits partner of Manchester United, the world's biggest football club; and in blending ambition with generosity and using success to enrich the lives of others – which is why the Chivas Venture supports social startups with $1m in annual funding.

Chivas blends its home in Speyside, Scotland, with more than 100 countries across the globe, who together have made Chivas the global success it is today, selling more than 4.2 million 9L cases every year. The Chivas range blends timeless classics with modern innovation, including: Chivas 12, Chivas Extra, Chivas XV, Chivas Mizunara, Chivas 18, Chivas Ultis, Chivas 25, Chivas Regal The Icon, and the Global Travel Retail exclusive Chivas Brothers Blend. Chivas. Success is a blend. www.Chivas.com

About TNW Conference

TNW Conference is a technology festival that brings together international media, technology executives, top-tier investors and promising startups for two days of business and knowledge sharing – surrounded by some of the highest production values at any tech event on the planet. Over the past 12 editions, TNW Conference has grown from a 200-person event to one of the leading technology events, bringing together 12,500 attendees a day and 3,500 companies from all over the world. This year's event will take place on May 24-25th in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

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AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 09: Chivas Venture judge Zoe Saldana attends the Chivas Venture Global Final at TNW Conference on May 09, 2019 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.The Chivas Venture gives $1m in no-strings funding every year to the hottest social startups from around the world. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images for The Chivas Venture).
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 09: Chivas Venture judge Zoe Saldana attends the Chivas Venture Global Final at TNW Conference on May 09, 2019 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.The Chivas Venture gives $1m in no-strings funding every year to the hottest social startups from around the world. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images for The Chivas Venture).
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 09: Chivas Venture judge Zoe Saldana attends the Chivas Venture Global Final at TNW Conference on May 09, 2019 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.The Chivas Venture gives $1m in no-strings funding every year to the hottest social startups from around the world. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images for The Chivas Venture).
AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - MAY 09: Chivas Venture judge Zoe Saldana attends the Chivas Venture Global Final at TNW Conference on May 09, 2019 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.The Chivas Venture gives $1m in no-strings funding every year to the hottest social startups from around the world. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images for The Chivas Venture).