Chivas Venture judges Executive Director of the Beeck Center for Social Impact and innovation Sonal Shah, Alexandre Ricard chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard, Chivas Venture Judges Zoe Saldana and Founder of Change Please Cemal Ezel speak on stage at a a press conference after the Chivas Venture Global Final at TNW Conference on May , 2019, in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The Chivas Venture gives $1 million 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)

Actress, entrepreneur and philanthropist Zoe Saldana was in Amsterdam recently to help select the winner of the 2019 Chivas Venture. The social startup competition gives away $1 million 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.

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. The social startup‘s product helps 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 10 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. The 2019 Chivas Venture 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 3 minutes to impress a panel of judges and an audience of global business leaders, tech professionals, investors and entrepreneurs.

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Andrea Karen Hammer, a Philadelphia-based freelance writer, is the founder, CEO and owner of Artsphoria Inclusive & Collaborative Publishing, Media Group & Shop ( She leads the operation and innovation at Artsphoria: Arts, Business & Technology Center (, Artsphoria Event Advertising & Reporting (; Artsphoria International Magazine (, Artsphoria Movie Reviews & Film Forum (; Artsphoria: Food for the Soul (; Artsphoria's Animation & Imagination World ( and Artsphoria Shop (

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