“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell
Quote that describes the mindset of the inspiring young entrepreneur Farah Emara, CEO, FreshSource, a great initiative to streamline the fresh food value chain through the use of data and technology. The 30-year old leading lady, Farah is passionate about entrepreneurship, value chains, and getting rid of unnecessary inefficiencies. With her co-founder, Omar Emara, they are the brains behind FreshSource Global, they launched the firm in January 2019.
The inception that happened just three years ago, grew into a strong innovative platform. FreshSource is currently disrupting the Egyptian agriculture industry by streamlining the value chain through technology. It is the region’s first platform for fresh produce, transforming the lives of producers, businesses, and consumers. As of now, the firm is working with many established businesses in the country with a belief that the level of service it provides is what makes them loyal to FreshSource. Because of their outstanding contributions and innovative solutions, Farah and her venture were honoured with the Digital Agriculture Award of the year by the World Bank and the IFC. They were also awarded the Mashrou3 Amal award by MBC.
Further, the leading lady apprised, “An idea, no matter how unique or great it is, is just an idea. Determination, perseverance, and transforming your setbacks into comebacks is what will build a truly successful enterprise. We work hard to prepare our team and our company for exponential growth and always make data-driven decisions for our strategies. We are building a strong team with a solid foundation and processes in place that will enable us to transform the Egyptian agriculture industry.”
The Inspiration behind the Initiative
Omar and Farah grew up in the agriculture industry and it was always a passion for them. At the time she was working in P&G and Omar was in London. Farah had a background in FMCG and Omar in Finance and Technology in Goldman Sachs London. They always knew that they wanted to start something that will have an impact on their country. They started researching the industry and uncovered immense inefficiencies that exist in the value chain. Through their research, they found that an average of 45% of crops are lost before hitting store shelves due to poor harvesting, transportation, and storage. With an exponentially growing population, greater stress is being placed on food security. Producers are not getting their fair cut due to middlemen and businesses are overpaying for their crops making prices extremely high for the end-consumer.. So, they launched FreshSource to revolutionize agriculture in Egypt and transform it through technology.
Major Hiccups & Support on the Way
The agriculture industry is always very risky and dynamic, so challenges are how to withstand some of the changes that were caused by the global pandemic and how to build a foundation that can strive.
While talking about her support system, Farah happily said, “My co-founder, Omar, is the number one reason I am where I am today. He provides unparalleled support and a great direction for FreshSource that has made it possible for us to achieve what we have.”
“To create a More Balanced and Equal Industry, Always focus on the female representation in the workforce, if you are not tracking it then odds are you have an extremely low number of females in your team. Without this diversity, companies are missing out on so much, from Sales to Operations”, she further added.
A Day in Farah’s Life
She wakes up at 7 every day as the fruit and vegetable industry is one that is most active in the mornings. She begins her day by checking the communication channels with the team. After that, she gets up and walks her two beautiful dogs, Mocha and Yogi. Then she goes to the gym at Gezira Club to get some morning endorphins and grabs a coffee. After that, she either goes to the office, meets with investors, farms, or cold storage facilities depending on the situation.
Favourite Source of Inspiration & Education
A podcast- Startup Theory.
“I love Startup Theory and I recommend all entrepreneurs listen to it. Being an entrepreneur can sometimes be a lonely journey. I am lucky enough to have my brother with me, but other sole founders don’t. They need to get the message that obstacles will always arise and sometimes doubting yourself can be more detrimental than the actual issue you are facing. We usually only see the tip of the iceberg on media platforms of startups raising millions and it usually looks so easy. However, each startup is going through its own pains, and keeping your headset in the right direction is what will make you sink or swim”, Farah apprised.
The young woman believes that blockchain will have an immense impact on the value chain of food. This has already started happening and will only continue to transform the industry. Agriculture accounts for 40% of the global workforce and represents 6.4% of the entire world’s economic production. Getting food from farm to table is an extremely complicated process with a lot of intermediaries. People are oblivious to what has been sprayed on the food they are eating or how it has been handled. Using blockchain to promote the traceability of food will have a transformative impact.
Advice for Female Entrepreneurs
You must be aggressive, while it may be uncomfortable for some people to be assertive and it might not come naturally, unfortunately, it is seen as a sign of weakness by investors and other stakeholders. So, if you want to get far, you must be determined and assertive.