Опубликовано: January 14, 2021 в 21:54


Категории: Webinar series

With the global pandemic continuing to affect the globe and with the hopes that mass vaccination will help return to a normal, entrepreneurs are entering a new year full of challenges and opportunities alike. From start-ups built on digital nomadism to disruptors in the field of education & healthcare, entrepreneurs across the globe are on a race to find and solve the biggest challenges that humanity is facing.

In the first 2021 episode of Business Transformation Explained we talk with experts, media and entrepreneurs about the emerging key trends in entrepreneurship in 2021 across key geographies around the globe.

Tune in on 27th January 2021 starting 3 PM [GST].


NYLA KHAN – Co-founder | Educator & Keynote Speaker | Forbes 30 Under 30

Nyla Khan is the co-founder for Mirai Partners, Willow Tree Kids, and Kids World Nurseries. She is a Forbes 30 Under 30 millennial educator who has over the past ten years lived, worked, and pursued the same dream of wanting to create sustainable and scalable change for the most vulnerable among us. Over the past two years, as the co-founder at Mirai, Nyla brought artificial intelligence and literacy assessment to governments across the MENA region, with a potential impact on millions of students. On the other hand, with Willow Tree Kids and Kids World Nurseries, she and her team have been pioneering a new nursery for “the new normal,” along with launching the first machine learning-enabled personalized early learning platform.


Growth marketing expert, Nelio Leone has an impressive track record having built the brands Careem and Washmen into the powerhouses brands status. Nelio is now the founder of the growth hacking agency Urban Monks.

ROBERTO CROCI – Managing Director, Microsoft for Startups MEA

With over 20 years’ experience working for the likes of Microsoft and Google, Roberto Croci’s passion lies in innovation, startups and PEOPLE. Relationship driven, he has bridged the gap between corporates and startups across more than 20 countries, helping them develop real solutions that solve real world problems.



Daniel SolomonCEO @EROE & Co-Founder @EroeGo

Daniel Solomon is the CEO and Delivery Advisor of EROE and the co-founder of EroeGo the newest sustainable delivery app.


REVISED – Food for Thought: Unpacking Innovation Trends in Food Security

Опубликовано: January 5, 2021 в 07:00


Категории: Insights


The food sector is one that has witnessed the most disruptions as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic. From food sources, technology adoption to policy and ethics, businesses have had to change their operation to meet new demands; and consumers have become more sophisticated in their choices of products in terms of price, health and safety. All these have led to expectations which experts have come to agree that technology will play a huge role in bridging this gap so as to ensure sustainability of food security around the world. 

Innovation trends have been the topic of discussion in all sectors as the world grapples with the question of “what next?”. The answer may as well lie in innovative mindsets for consumers, businesses and governments. In a series of webinars by EROE, we have been discussing technology and the future of food security globally. We understand that food security innovation is the most complex subject discussed on the public stage that grew to become a priority in the context of the global pandemic.

In the 3rd part series of our webinars on food security, EROE CEO, Daniel Solomon hosts three industry experts to discuss the food security challenges beyond the borders of the region and also have an in-depth look at sustainable global innovation trends for 2021. On the Panel are Mustafa Y. Koita – Founder and CEO of Koita Foods, Mark Tester – Co-Founder and CSO at Red Sea Farms, as well as Abdulaziz AlMulla – CEO of Madar Farms.

What is Food Security in your own words? 

Though this question has been answered in previous webinars, Daniel poses the question again as he has a different set of panelists. Mark is a Professor of Plant Sciences and has been doing research into plant sciences for many years. He is now enjoying developing saltwater-based agricultural systems in Saudi Arabia and the UAE with Red Sea Farms to improve sustainability of food production. In his own words, “in discussing food security, you need to have accessibility, stability and safety. Food also needs to be produced with a lower environmental footprint. At the moment the food sector takes almost half of all the land through its use. It is also the 2nd largest emitter of greenhouses according to our primary research. In this region, 85% of all the water used is from food. And frankly, not much food is being produced here to be using that amount of water. About a 3rd of all the water used for irrigation for food comes from underground sources, and so we are producing a large amount of our agriculture by mining water. This is unsustainable and so we need to reduce our environmental footprints in the food sector. For instance, doing things like using plant-based milk for dairy is fantastic because emissions from the dairy industry is huge. The water footprint from most of our food production is really shocking. A single date planted in the region uses 50 litres of water in its entire production, and so there is an urgent need to change some of these things. Fantastic opportunities have been given by technology such as engineering, digital and biotech innovations. I am optimistic that we would be able to roll out a number of these innovations for ourselves.”

Ensuring that technology solves access to food as a basic right for everyone 

Food and nutrition safety are considered a basic human right according to the Maslow Hierarchy of needs. In UAE, we may be very lucky to have access to food but the story may not be the same in other countries. Abdulaziz AlMulla is CEO and Founder of Madar Farms, a UAE 

start up focused on tackling food and water security through sustainable local production. His company in particular is focused on indoor farming and uses hydroponics and vertical farming as well as controlled environment to make sure that their plants have what they need all the time to be happy, healthier, all natural with no pesticides or insecticides and most importantly no preservatives. They are looking to decrease use of water resources and to get local production and security up here in the UAE. 

Presenting his thoughts on using technology to solve access to food as a basic right for everyone, he adds that “we are not producing enough and what we are producing is overusing our natural resources. Even though in the UAE, we able to go to the supermarket to buy what we want anytime does not necessarily translate into food security as it is a global issue. The two big words that come to mind is accessibility and opportunity. I have watched the testing process of growth on my farm and we were able to simplify it because it’s been run by computers. I can say the developments of IoT and its integration with agriculture suddenly made it accessible enough for people without agricultural backgrounds to produce. Technology is opening up ways and narrowing the knowledge gap. If we drive accessibility and awareness, then we can drive change and that is when technology brings opportunity. Talking about FoodTech and Agtech is now more about technology, marketing, alternative sources, an entire value chain. Technology on its own is not the change, it is the integration of consumers that enables the change.”

How is the price point of the product determining sustainability of food security in this region in general?

Mustafa is Founder and CEO of Koita Foods, a homegrown Dubai Company which he started seven years ago. They sell three lines of items namely organic dairy milk, lactose free dairy milk, and plant-based/vegan milk ranges like soya, oat, and almond. They are already in eleven countries being a market leader in most of its categories and are very proud to have seen a lot of about the food security business. 

In answering the question, he says that “consumers are very sophisticated, this generation is extremely demanding. They want sustainable, organic, non-GMO and also a price point. The challenge through our primary research is that the consumer wants to eat their cake and have it. UAE does not have arable land so having a price point to mimic the ones with arable lands is challenging. Driving to a consumer-friendly price point is important.” 

All panelists agree that there should be a benefit and cost analysis to strike a balance as consumer demand drives the market share.

Alternative food source growth to be considered for food sustainable 

A very good example of this is on Koita Foods which introduced full plant-based ranges 24 months ago with, oats, almond (which is rich in fibre) and Soya (which is rich in protein). That product range has grown quite rapidly and has cut across geographical barriers. It therefore started investing more in R&D on the plant-based side.

How do we use technology to identify safety of food instead of just focusing on price point? 

Producers need to make food safe and general education needs to be targeted at all stakeholders including consumers. Social Media is a powerful tool in connecting brands directly to interact with their consumers and so it cannot be underestimated. 

Traceability is also important. For instance, adding QR codes to packaging to show information such as nutritional facts will be a big boost in this drive.

Making food innovation attractive 

Agriculture’s image has not really changed globally and it sometimes looks boring and therefore not a career path many consider. So, if the youth for example can be shown that it is possible, achievable, and that it can be done, they would be inspired and attracted. 

Knowing that the UAE government is entrepreneurial at heart and loves to take risks, it is a good country to get investment into the sector. Mark raised a point about one of the things that he finds really wrong in a lot of jurisdictions, not only in the UAE. In his opinion there are way too many subsidies in the system; and rather we should be paying the real price for “what we should be paying the real price”. This is because some of the basic elements of these subsidies are distorting markets and are also very strongly inhibitory of the actual true adoption of real innovations. 

The food sector has one of the biggest challenges the world faces so there is a big piece of the pie for everyone. It is up to industry players to use effective communication and collaboration to inspire consumers, businesses and governments on board so that everyone can have a piece of the pie.

What can we expect to see in making food security innovations more sustainable? 

Moving into 2021, there is a lot to look forward to in terms of innovation in food security. According to Mustafa, “in terms of alternative food sources, taste has been optimized and really improved. Marketing and distribution have also improved.” He expects to see a huge increase in consumers buying directly from the brand, that is a huge shift in ecommerce patterns and also more vegan products. In Abdulaziz’s view, “There has been lot of options on the market and the interventions we need are technology and Marketing Communications to close that gap. Land in the region is less arable and so has the greatest needs. Madar Farms for example is using LED light technology to aid with the growth of tomatoes, and so there is room to grow and disrupt which can be done from a wide space. We therefore need to encourage people to become part of this sector.” Mark concludes that “in addition to technology, consumer education to make more informed decisions is important in terms of their health, safety and being environmentally sustainable.” 

It is obvious that the gains of technology can be harnessed in the food and agriculture sector to bring about innovative solutions that will be beneficial to consumers, entrepreneurs, businesses, governments and the climate as a whole. We need to continue making efforts as stakeholders to continue the drive in bringing out sustainable solutions that will create self-sufficiency in local food production as a means of ensuring global food security.

#RESTART2021 – The Start of The New Era of Innovation

Опубликовано: December 20, 2020 в 22:42


Категории: Webinar series

2020 has been the year that confronted many industries with the urgency of change and transformation. Simultaneously, the crisis that paralyzed the world offered incredible opportunities for innovation and game changing transformation at a global level. 

Business Transformation Explained series analyzed in the last six months various industries trying to decode the future of money, banking, healthcare, and food security. 

A few days before the start of 2021 our expert guests gather in an all-star edition to recap the intersection between industries, impact, case studies, and 2021 predictions. 



Mustafa Y. Koita- Founder & CEO, Koita Food

Entrepreneur Mustafa Y. Koita is founder and CEO of Koita Foods. He founded the organic food company in 2013 with a mission to make healthy food more accessible for families in the MENASA (Middle East, North Africa, South Asia) region, a vision that is now set to take the homegrown FMCG brand global in other markets. Koita Foods is sold in 1,000+ retailers across MENASA and other emerging markets with revenue continuing to grow thanks to a buoyant organic, lactose free and non-dairy milk markets. Mustafa leads the strategic vision for the company, developing new product lines, such as the hugely popular Oat milk, a growth opportunity he spotted due to the increasing consumer demand for non-dairy milk alternatives.

Bill Ashlock – Founder of Bosa Advisors

Bill is a Financial Services Executive with technology and transformational leadership and execution experience with organizations ranging from start-ups through large scale multinationals.



Daniel Solomon

Daniel Solomon is the CEO and Delivery Advisor of EROE, a business and digital transformation agency with global operations in Dubai & San Francisco. Daniel’s expertise blends leadership, people’s culture, technical skills and practical case studies aimed to help intelligent businesses to grow and change the way the world works.


REPLAY NOW: Food for Thought: Innovation Trends in Food Security

Опубликовано: December 7, 2020 в 23:44


Категории: Webinar series

Food security innovation is the most complex subject discussed on the public stage that grew to become a priority in the context of a global pandemic. From food sources, technology adoption, policy and ethics, EROE decoded in a 3- part series the complexity of the food security industry and what it means for the future of sustainability, waste impact and global economic development. 

The gains of technology can be harnessed in all sectors including food and agriculture to bring about innovative solutions that will be beneficial to consumers, entrepreneurs, businesses, governments and the climate as a whole. Considering the natural environmental factors in the GCC and UAE alone, the region is leading the way in fostering an ecosystem for food technology (FoodTech), agricultural technology (Agritech), and smart farming. All these are efforts being made by key stakeholders to create self-sufficiency in local food production. 

In the 3rd installment of our Food Security webinar series we gather industry experts to discuss the food security challenges beyond the borders of the region and have in-depth look at the global innovation trends for 2021.

Our Speakers:

MUSTAFA Y. KOITA – Founder & CEO, Koita Foods

Entrepreneur Mustafa Y. Koita is founder and CEO of Koita Foods. He founded the organic food company in 2013 with a mission to make healthy food more accessible for families in the MENASA (Middle East, North Africa, South Asia) region, a vision that is now set to take the homegrown FMCG brand global in other markets. Koita Foods is sold in 1,000+ retailers across MENASA and other emerging markets with revenue continuing to grow thanks to a buoyant organic, lactose free and non-dairy milk markets. Mustafa leads the strategic vision for the company, developing new product lines, such as the hugely popular Oat milk, a growth opportunity he spotted due to the increasing consumer demand for non-dairy milk alternatives.

MARK TESTER – Co-Founder and CSO, Red Sea Farms

Mark Tester is professor of plant science at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, and co-Founder of Red Sea Farms LLC. In 2019, he was Head of the Food Sector at NEOM. Prior to joining KAUST in February 2013, he was an ARC Federation Fellow and professor of plant physiology at the University of Adelaide, where he established The Plant Accelerator. Previously, he was a Senior Lecturer at the University of Cambridge, where he also received his PhD in 1988. Mark is now enjoying developing saltwater-based agricultural systems, to improve sustainability of food production.


Abdulaziz’s interest in food security began during his time at McKinsey & Co. working extensively with GCC governments addressing a variety of national risk challenges. A serial investor in disruptive technologies (Lyft, Indigo Ag, among others), he is dedicated to addressing the food security challenge. He dedicates time to the region’s food ecosystem as a mentor at Savour Ventures, the Middle East’s first accelerator focused on food.





Daniel Solomon is the CEO and Delivery Advisor of EROE, a business and digital transformation agency with global operations in Dubai & San Francisco

How Technology is increasing the Food Security in GCC

Опубликовано: October 13, 2020 в 09:52


Категории: Insights


The global pandemic of 2020 has brought to the global attention the need for advanced food security, supply management, and self-sufficiency.

A new United Nations (UN) report launched in 2019 states that the world’s population is expected to increase by 2 billion persons in the next 30 years, from 7.7 billion currently to 9.7 billion in 2050. It is also expected to peak at nearly 11 billion around 2100.

A growing population always comes with its merits and challenges as well. 

Most people love to talk about food; but as the global population increases with the society currently faced with a pandemic and the impact of climate change on how we live, food production, security, and distribution must become sustainable. Practical ways to reform agriculture such as soil conservation, consumer education about behavioral changes, and the use of technology to produce, distribute, and reduce wastage ought to have a place on the discussion table. 

As part of EROE’s Business Transformation Explained Webinar series, CEO Daniel F. Solomon led a panel made of Jude Hamod from SRTIP and George Stoyanov from Grant Thornton to predict the future of food security, and answer questions on how innovation and technology can be used as tools in tackling food waste. 

With an extensive background in technology, Jude is the Head of Business Development at the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park whilst George is a Partner at Grant Thornton, a tax and auditing firm in the UAE.

What is food security and how is it economically impacting the UAE and the GCC region?

The United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security defines it as the means by which “people at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life.” The core of food security is whether people have physical access to food and whether they can feed themselves. 

Secondly, do people have economic access or economic strength for food? This can be looked at from the point of not only the individual person but collectively; first as countries and then from a global perspective. This means that each individual has the opportunity to have food and access its distribution and economic elements to support their families, nations, and so on. This should be done in the most environmentally sustainable and friendly manner in a supply chain cycle that is viable and secured making sure that food is not wasted. 

Each member of the cycle will play a pivotal role in this, and so it is everyone’s business to make this a mindset. Food production, capacity in terms of harvesting as well as technology plays a crucial role. These thoughts were shared by George Thornton during the discussion.

Locally, the UAE stepped up the vision towards the future of food security by launching the National Food Security Strategy which aims to make the  UAE one of the world’s best countries in the Global Security Index by 2051 and among the top 10 countries by 2021.

Main challenges to food security for a global population heading towards 9 billion by 2050

From a technology perspective, Jude Hamod believes that the population is still growing and GDP per capita is also increasing which drives global demand for foods that are resource-intensive such as processed foods. It’s not exactly the availability or affordability factor always for her, however, the main problem is the impact on the environment. Resource-intensive foods have had a negative impact on the environment such as on water, global warming, and the loss of biodiversity. There are ways to tackle these with the right technology. Farming techniques that use resources more efficiently, incorporating food waste processing well, and also going towards a diet that is less based on animal intensive resources is a way to go even though, with the latter, food may become more expensive.

The role of innovation by farmers and how we can support farmer-led innovation to tackle some of these challenges.

The agricultural sector has different challenges globally. In the UAE water consumption is one of them. Techniques such as vertical farming or hydroponics which aim to yield productivity through soilless, precision agriculture which uses satellite, productivity monitoring, huge use of drones, and IoT and technology must be implemented on a large scale. Currently, Jude Hamod mentioned one of the three companies in the UAE which are fully equipped to apply these techniques and several others and must be supported from all angles such as Agritech (Agricultural Technology) and Finance to sustain them. Making technology accessible means investing heavily in technology and innovation.

The United Nations’ World Food Programme has warned that an additional 130 million people could face acute food insecurity by the end of 2020, on top of the 135 million people who were already acutely food insecure before the crisis. This is alarming, and a reflection of the looming impact of food insecurity.

What is the best way to turn people into producing locally and how can it help improve the entire supply chain?

The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted livelihoods especially in the F&B and Hospitality sectors which are traditionally big in the UAE. We have to support the production of locally produced food even from the perspective of the consumer. Fruits and vegetables are the most perishable items in terms of the food supply chain system and so they rank high in the wastage part. This is why local supply should be encouraged. Hypermarkets and local online stores can also help here. Governments and regulators have a role to play as well. Financiers such as banks can help by investing, and this will create a domino effect to the benefit of all, according to George. There are many opportunities in Agritech and using analytics will be helpful to prevent food loss. Innovation is key.

How do we address the controversy of constantly producing more food to meet the growing demands of the population?

A large percentage of fruits and vegetables always go to waste. They are most susceptible to food wastage because of their natural elements which makes them more perishable. Transporting them means that there may not be a need to add more additives in preserving them. We, therefore, need to find ways to curb the food wastage percentage. It uses the law of increasing numbers. Companies can take advantage of this to optimize waste, improve storage facilities, transportation, and many more in a bid to curb waste. Harvest technologies and packaging is crucial.

Jude believes that controlling storage and transportation is important. The education of people in the supply chain can also help prevent waste. Most solutions are AI-based and so traceability technology is needed to improve the operations and reduce inefficiencies. The use of AI for analytics also helps in forecasting and planning instead of overproducing. Innovative packaging is also important in helping the consumer in being more conscious. This improves dynamic pricing for example on perishable goods.

How do we go beyond price, whilst educating the consumer about how to avoid food waste?

Panelists agree that we must ensure people are buying more organic food, changing consuming behaviours to more sustainable and nutritious foods. We must also encourage the use of applications that help people to be nutrition-conscious leading to 

sustainability is becoming a necessity and not a trend.

Changing the approach to nutrition, Consumers should become conscious buyers and different stakeholders have to be involved in eliminating food waste that leads to insecurity to support the UN goals. 

How do we address food security, nutrition, and waste in the years to come?

First, technology is key and so, companies and startups need funding to be able to use it effectively. Testing is also important to make sure techniques are viable.

Key stakeholders have to be consulted extensively to help implement these technologies.

The UAE has very high ambitions in going ahead in the rankings of the Global Food Security Index. In light of this, we all have a role to play. The role of regulators is vital, and authorities can play an active part however consumers have an equal responsibility of supporting the national vision by educating themselves and by changing harming inherited commercial behaviours. 

Moreover, financing support is key and investors should turn their attention towards startups and companies producing innovative solutions to support the change towards food sustainability.

Least but not last, an important component remains the nutrition and sustainability education, which should be implemented from an early age so that the next generation can develop a greener mindset from the very start.

Consumers, startups and governments together can achieve the National Food Security Strategy of the UAE. We all need to do our part to move everything forward.