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Q&A with Fidele El Achkar

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Fidele El Achkar , Founder and CEO @FoodSight

How could you describe your career path in few words?

As a biochemist graduating from the Lebanese university, I was going to pursue my PhD cancer research in Germany. But when my scholarship got rejected due to the political instability in the Middle East and Syria especially, I got a job at a food production company and here is where I found my passion for the agro-food industry. After that, I pursued my masters in food technology, and I’ve been working since then in the industry with Lebanese and multinational stakeholders for over 10 years under quality assurance, consultancy, R&D, auditing, and many others. In parallel to all of this, my social, civic and humanitarian engagements are numerous. I had the privilege of volunteering for multiple NGOs leading projects focused on the communities, environment, youth empowerment, professional development, and many more. Launching my own business, FoodSight, at the age of 28 in 2019, was a real challenge. The life of an entrepreneur is usually not easy, how about launching a business in Lebanon in the midst of crisis and in times of chaos! With FoodSight we achieved a lot even under all these circumstances, as we had one main goal which is to improve the support provided to the agro-food industry stakeholders and help them work on sustainable and safer food systems, while creating job opportunities, business linkages and social impact. This entrepreneurial journey gave me the opportunity to be a member of multiple associations, NGOs, clubs that focus on building the entrepreneurs of tomorrow, empowering women and marginalized people, as well as giving back to the community and being part of the technical improvement of the agro-food industry specifically. Based on all this, I discovered that I have an entrepreneurial spirit long before I started my journey with FoodSight!

Describe a situation in which you faced an obstacle and explain how you were able to overcome it ?

We had a vision to support small food enterprises, promote food safety, share technologies & knowledge. Here FoodSight was born!

The first step was to decide on my willingness and dedication to go for it.So many questions were raised: where to start, do I have enough time & money, am I willing to take a risk in quitting my full-time job and pursue something that is not sure, what skills do I need to turn my idea into money, what other people would think, is it the right time to do it... And I started to have answers for these questions the moment I decided to take action. Starting the process in 2019 in parallel with the Lebanese Revolution, was a push for us since we believe that change is needed and it starts with each one of us building solutions answering the current problems. As you can see, my entrepreneurial experience was not easy. Juggling between a full-time job and many humanitarian & social engagements… It was multitasking at its best. Launching a new business in the best of times is alone a hustle. How about kicking off this venture during the toughest of times, in the midst of chaos & crisis! Many friends & family members questioned my insistence, commitment & capability of pulling this off. I had to make sure to always work the extra mile to make things happen, keep on pushing through, especially in response to the high market demand, our passion & dedication to be part of the agro-food revolution. All the struggles we faced during these times did not affect our dedication and insistence on pursuing this bumpy journey, and Our hard work paid off. Driven by passion & ambition, we stay resilient mostly by mitigating our risks and ensuring continuation. Addressing all Lebanese women entrepreneurs we can say: if you were able to establish a successful business or maintain the survival of your business in Lebanon facing the pandemic and the economic crisis then, congratulations! You will definitely succeed anywhere else in the world!

Based on your experience, what skills should an entrepreneur develop in 2023?

Whether you’re someone with an idea that was never written down or put into action, or someone who has been preparing a startup or a side project just for the sake of change or to generate some additional income, good ideas often come and go. But what if they didn’t? What if you actually took steps to pursue your ideas and see if they were good? The thing is, we’ve been there! And we discussed here how our journey looked like. I believe the first step for entrepreneurs to follow is to decide on their willingness and dedication to go for it. The 2nd step is to work on developing the mind & the idea. Then comes the market validation. The next step would be to identify their target market and formulate their value proposition. And the final step of the process is launching the startup and turning it into a business. To become an entrepreneur, you don’t only need to be knowledgeable in the field of your work, you need to be passionate about it, a team player with good leadership skills, and always looking for opportunities for self and business growth.

Based on your recent experience, if you had one piece of advice for an entrepreneur's success in the context of 2023, what would it be?

 For entrepreneurs trying to launch their businesses in the market in challenging times, don’t be afraid to take risks if you really believe in what you are doing. There are ecosystems and communities who can help you address the problems you have and build your solution in the easiest and most efficient ways.

We always wanted our journey to be interesting, so we can motivate young people & especially encourage women to believe in their abilities, no matter the social & work restrictions are. To them I say, just believe in yourself, and work on growing your skills, because you as well, you can do wonders and achieve great things!

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