What is the Story Behind Sara’s Organic Food? What inspired you to open this business?
“Living in Egypt inspired me to start a business that supplies the best quality food a country has to offer. When I first moved to Cairo I found it hard to make smart choices about the fresh produce I buy, as many fruits and vegetables looked beautiful on the outside, but were not healthy to eat. The more you know about food production, the more you know what you can’t eat and shouldn’t feed to your children. There was a very limited amount of choice for clean food and a general mistrust in products labelled as organic in the market, so I decided to grow my own food and make it available for people wanting to live a healthier life in Cairo.”
Please take us through what you offer at Sara’s Organic Food.
“Today we grow, source and deliver clean food, farm to home, and in supermarkets. We offer the best, healthiest and tastiest fruits and vegetables available in every season, all grown with love in Egypt. In the summer we have grapes, mangoes, pomegranates and dates, in the cooler months an array of vegetables, herbs and citrus, as well as dried dates, eggs from happy hens, cold pressed olive oil and raw honey. We also offer educational programs, workshops and food related events at our farm, as well as school trips and birthdays.”
What is your food philosophy?
“We believe that what is in season is good, and that good food is grown without harmful chemicals and pesticides. We believe we must know our food, and support sustainable food production for the health of ourselves, our farmers, our animals and our environment.”
What is the most surprising thing about organic farming?
“It is not easy, but takes hard work on all fronts from seed to your plate. Also, we have to accept losses, and it takes a lot of time. Lot’s of time.”
As the winner of the Cartier Women Initiative Award, tell us about this journey and about the significance of this award for you and your business?
“Being part of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards was a life changing experience, that brought me and my business exceptional development and growth. Having started my business out of a need and not with a business plan in mind, everything we have done was pretty ad hoc and we improvised as we went along. The CWIA’s made me formalise and articulate my business plan, and take a step back from our day to day operations, looking at where we are as a business and where we want to go.
The only way to succeed and fulfill our purpose to give people access to clean food that tastes good and to educate people about the benefits of clean food for health, environment and farmers, was to make this a sustainable and profitable business in the long run. When I first applied, I would have never thought that we could be selected as a finalist or become a laureate. The whole process was an incredible learning experience, and the support from Cartier, McKisney and INSEAD is invaluable, to this day. Part of the winning prize was receiving a mentor, with whom I work closely together, and a place in the social entrepreneurship program at INSEAD. Taking time off to study and exchanging with others from different industries is truly enhancing for me personally and the business. I am going back to INSEAD this fall and the support from Cartier really reaffirmed that we are doing the right thing”
What are some tips you can give to our readers on becoming a successful woman entrepreneur?
“If there is something that you are passionate about, go for it and make it happen, even if it seems impossible at first. Also, don’t be in a rush. Patience is key.”
What was the most challenging thing about opening an organic food business in Egypt?
“Most challenging was establishing people’s trust in a market where there is little awareness about the importance of organic food as well as finding qualified staff to join our agricultural team. “
What do you hope to achieve through Sara’s Organic Food?
“We hope to raise more awareness about the importance of eating food that was grown without pesticides and harmful chemicals and to become the hub for clean food and the biggest supplier of organic and premium food in the region and beyond.”