With a career spanning very different industries, from legal to petrochemicals, Hajirasouli had a deep understanding of management and sustainability. So, when she founded The Surpluss in 2022, she knowingly set herself on a mission to disrupt linear economic systems.
Operating on a tiered subscription model, the dynamic B2B platform allows its member companies to map their underused resources and connect with others who might be interested in purchasing those resources. By simplifying the process and creating connections that probably wouldn’t have been made otherwise, The Surpluss aims to enable self-sufficiency, unlock underutilised value, promote sustainability, and improve clients’ decision-making and profitability.
Hajirasouli says, “We have intentionally designed our solutions to be user-friendly for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as they are integral to the manufacturing value chain, which is our primary target market. Our objective is to empower them to understand the value of their assets and leverage our platform to their advantage. Furthermore, we guarantee a return on investment within three months, ensuring that the membership fees paid translate into ongoing profitability for our clients.”
Instigating a Paradigm Shift
Eventually, Hajirasouli hopes that “The Surpluss will create a new reality for businesses, the same way that Airbnb has normalised staying at a stranger’s house. Our vision is to connect businesses to collaborate in ways never seen before, benefiting both the environment and their bottom line. Our approach is focused on cost reduction, fostering innovation, and enhancing environmental stewardship.”
While, in the early stages, many companies view sustainability as a nice but optional endeavour, questioning its tangible benefits, some are starting to recognise its importance for long-term success, if only as a way to survive the multiple shocks that are hitting the economy. According to Hajirasouli, “The UAE alone saw somewhere around an 18% increase in energy and utility bills, 17% increase in raw material costs, 60% increase in equipment costs, and so on. Once you correlate this risk, [businesses] start to understand that they need to survive these external shocks, these growing costs.”
The problem is, often, to identify the optimal way to balance sustainability goals with profit margins. That’s where the impact of the kind of approach The Surpluss advocates for is real and measurable. By optimising their resource utilisation, the platform enables businesses to minimise waste sent to landfills and achieve greater oversight of their emissions. It also opens up opportunities for local sourcing, reducing transportation time and costs while promoting the growth of local jobs within the green economy - all while getting financially rewarded for it.
Now Is the Time
Bridging the education gap and building awareness around the benefits of industrial symbiosis and circular economy practices is a necessary starting point that Hajirasouli focuses intensely on. She organises events and symposiums, brings together experts from academia, public sector, private sector, and international partners. Naturally, with the UAE hosting the COP 28 conference at the end of the year, the country should see major progress in sustainable practices, particularly in terms of climate risk mitigation.
As she explains, the potential for global growth is ripe. “Climate tech now accounts for 14 cents of every venture capital dollar, with 210% growth in investment year-on-year. It can provide new job opportunities, new market access, and tremendous innovation potential, and we are only scratching the surface,” she says. A sustainable business environment is especially important in regions where incentives and regulations for sustainability may be lacking, especially emerging economies.
Since its launch, The Surpluss has experienced rapid growth, with 350 companies already on board in the UAE. The plan is to reach 1,500 members in the UAE by the end of the year and expand to the UK with upcoming clusters.
In a world where one man’s trash can be another’s treasure, Hajirasouli and The Surpluss are championing a new reality for businesses - one that combines environmental benefits with improved financial outcomes, levelling the playing field for smaller businesses to compete with larger establishments.