The team at the Future Agro Challenge wants to shine a spotlight on the great work the impact makers are doing around the world with a series of interviews getting to know some of the faces in the global FAC network.
This time round they featured one of the team members from the Lebanon Berytech Impact Maker group, Joey Ghanem, Communications and Outreach Manager.
Berytech is a partner of the Future of Agro Challenge in Lebanon and has held the Lebanon Agripreneur of the Year competition since 2017.
Joey started working with Berytech in 2018 specifically in the Agrytech Program, supporting and scaling innovations in the agri-food sector. Together with the team, she jumped into the second edition of the Future Agro Challenge in Lebanon, joining the mission of this great initiative. This global partnership allowed Berytech to expose Lebanese startups on a global scale letting them compete with other countries, giving them the opportunity to join an international competition, meet investors, and meet other successful startups from around the globe working in the agri-food sector.
In 2019, Joey got the opportunity to attend the Global Agripreneur Summit in Greece and support the Lebanese Agripreneur of the year 2019 – Compost Baladi, allowing her to meet other impact makers from around the globe as well as startups and work collaboratively to push agripreneurs forward.
Joey says one of the biggest challenges she has faced is to convince entrepreneurs to start innovating in the agri-food sector, in spite of the misconception of the need to have an agricultural background to be able to innovate in it. She says we need business experts, entrepreneurs, technical experts among many other expertise, in addition to the agricultural experts to be able to nurture strong startups with sustainable solutions.
According to Joey, FAC is giving the opportunity for startups to get exposed globally and meet face-to-face with other innovators. The program has become an annual hub where startups, investors, experts, and impact makers can meet and share ideas. Joey is also working with Industry Disruptors-Game Changers and Sanad in the recently launched regional FAC Impact Makers Program, providing a capacity building program to ecosystem builders in North Africa and the MENA region. This program is allowing ecosystem builders to work hand in hand to better support agri-food startups in the region, creating a nurturing environment and network. This initiative will help improve and push forward innovation regionally to be competitive globally.
Through her work with many startups (from idea stage to growth stage), through many hackathons, ideathons and capacity building programs, as well as, SMEs working on innovation in the agrifood sector through the QOOT Cluster, Joey discovered that most of these companies started working in the agri-food sector based on a personal motivation from being the son/daughter of a farmer, living in a rural area, or simply deciding to try and find solutions to their own challenge.
Joey believes having a challenge to solve is a must, combined with a passion to the sector, in enhancing the dynamic of the team and pushing them to succeed. Joey says. “today, startups have a big role to play, yet, we need to innovate and scale regionally to start with, using what is around us, bringing solutions that might be evident in the developed countries to the developing countries, to then adapting/pivoting and scaling globally”.
One of the achievements Joey is most proud of is to be working with people from different backgrounds despite all the challenges Lebanon is facing from a cultural and political point of view, collaborating and bringing the sector forward while benefiting Lebanon through events run by Berytech. On top of that, Joey is thrilled to have organized the first Lebanese Agri-food Innovation day in 2019 (AFID), gathering professionals, private/public sector, academia, entrepreneurs, experts to meet and join the discussion around innovation in the agri-food sector. It brought awareness to the sector, gathered local and international speakers, QOOT Cluster members, and startups while benefiting the Lebanese scene allowing to create awareness and form collaborations among several players.