Soumaya Merhi is a young Lebanese entrepreneur that founded TAQA bakery, a pioneer in producing health snacks.
Being inspired by the healthy snack market trend through her job, she returned to Lebanon from Montreal in 2013 shortly after completing a B.A. and a graduate diploma in business administration from Concordia University.
Today TAQA is a leading startup in the F&B industry in Lebanon and is distributed across Lebanon and the Middle East.
How did you get your business idea?
The business idea developed organically from a passion to provide healthy and clean snacks in the Lebanese market. After spending Saturday mornings at Souk El Tayeb for three years, I noticed a huge need for alternative products and started to develop the line of TAQA snacks.
What was the main drive that pushed you to start your business?
Being interested in sports and leading an active life style and passionate about the food that we consume, I wanted to create a product that was natural, healthy and affordable.
What was your biggest fear before starting up? How did you overcome it?
At the initial stage I do not remember fear, but as the business grows you become more aware of risk because you have something to lose. To overcome fear, I try to surround myself with people that have more knowledge and expertise than me to help me with decisions. Knowledge is always a good way to face fear.
How do you describe your core business activity and what’s the key value you offer toyour customer?
Our core business activity is producing healthy snacks. We provide healthy snacks that have a mission behind them, to democratize health, to offer quality, and to show that in Lebanon we can compete with international brands.
What are the key strategies you use to expand your business?
Investment and securing distribution. Distribution is key to making your products available and accessible and pooling in investment from different shareholders.
What do you look for when recruiting an employee?
The skills I look for in a person to hire are ambition, curiosity, solution oriented and a desire to learn.
How many employees do you currently have? How do you describe your management style?
I have 8 employees. My management style is fair, communicative and solution-oriented.
How do you describe yourself in 3 words?
Passionate, committed, resilient.
What’s your favorite part of your business, and why?
I love sales and talking about TAQA. For me TAQA is much more than just a healthy snack provider.
How do you advertise your business? How do you advertise your product/service?
Direct marketing and digital communication.
What made you choose this type of business?
My sound belief in organic farming and healthy eating.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Listen to experts around from your industry, reach out when you do not know what to do and follow your intuition.
How do you balance the different aspects of your life? (well-being, family, social and professional)
I haven’t mastered that skill yet.
Women On Top Series
Berytech has partnered with the Lebanese League for Women in Business – LLWB, to create ‘Women on Top’ to highlight women entrepreneurs and executives in a series of motivational interviews about their stories, overcoming their own challenges and their entrepreneurial endeavors. Read more.