Ismael Kharoub - redefining the global agriculture marketplace

I have always been interested in entrepreneurship, enhanced by my ‘problem-solving’ mindset. Technology and the development of both hardware and software, has been my passion since I was twelve years old. It may surprise people to learn, I didn’t actually go on to study computer science or an engineering degree, but learnt through helping one of my closest friends who was a student with his coursework and assignments.

In the past few years, a number of ideas for startups have crossed my mind, however, I wanted to focus on problems needing a solution on a global scale. Three years ago, I was introduced to my co-founders through a friend. I joined the team as the tech expert and developer.

My partners were from an agricultural background , hence, they focused on finding a solution to the global issue: maintaining a sustainable business in the agricultural world.

We discovered that business banks and financial institutions used by farmers struggled to assist with financial risks, as farmers can be less well-organised. We understood that we needed to connect banks, farmers and third-party suppliers (logistics providers, investors, financiers and insurance companies).

So we developed a trading platform Avenews GT - a digital ecosystem where buyers and sellers can interact directly, without the need for unnecessary intermediaries. Our platform empowers commercial sellers and buyers of agricultural produce and encourages them to participate in the global market and deliver unique and high-quality products to the world.

By providing a digital trading platform powered by blockchain technology that integrates agri-trade services, Avenews-GT enables commercial sellers and buyers of agricultural produce to: transact directly with each other locally and worldwide, simplify transaction processes, reduce distribution costs, create financial security and increase supply chain transparency. So the first thing we do for our users/ clients- farmers is open a digital identity. For every farmer there’s a digital business.

Once we understood our market, we decided to approach financial institutions, looking for someone to help us make our mark globally. So we joined Barclays Rise, a British multinational bank and financial services company. Our theory - the fastest way to build a relationship with a bank is to join its accelerator.

When we initially applied for Rise’s accelerator in Tel Aviv, they suggested that in-fact we join their accelerator in South Africa since the market is bigger there. We based ourselves in South Africa for four months, raised funds then returned to Tel Aviv and opened offices in Rise.

We started as a team of three and today we are twelve international and diverse team members in business development, marketing, consultancy and more.

Before employing our workers we teach and adjust their expertise according to our needs, we even teach them to code in our way. Today we are working on raising funding for our seed round, we have a contract with ABSA, formerly Barclays in Africa - a financial services provider.

We won the pitch in the dark pitching contest with CITI Bank and we are working with them now in the US market.

On a side hustle, I opened a coding school in Yaffa for female coders- Web 3.0 with Avenew.

Mentors:

My parents, who supported me throughout everything in my life and my older sister, Kholoud Ayouti, Co-CEO of Presentence, who has also been my support system throughout my journey.

On a career level, I had a mentor called Dave Webber who I met in the accelerator. He is a tech genius, he taught me everything that I know and advised me on how to deal with the employers. I am a big believer in mentoring, I think everyone should have a mentor that they meet with once a month, mentors give you a perspective, you never see everything.

Challenges:

Partners - partnerships are worse than marriage, you need to know who your co founders are. Your relationship with your partners and the trust is the most important thing.

Motivation- you never see success immediately. I have a notification that pops up everyday when I come close to the office and tells me to remember why I do this. You need to believe in what you are doing and that you can actually do it.

Tips:

Stand-up for your rights and express your thoughts. Us Arabs are shy, we don’t say what we think.

Don’t please society or the people who surround you. Do what you think is right for you.

Failure is a blessing, the faster you fail the better you are.

Don’t try to duplicate something, try to make it from scratch and adjust it to your target audience. We understand the culture, why do we try to do things the american way. Take culture into consideration.

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