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2021 Speakers

Raed
Hafez

El Grocer

Raed
Hafez

El Grocer

With over 25 years of experience in managing large scale technology development and leading large commercial operations, Raed Hafez is elGrocer’s CEO, the leading Online Grocery marketplace in the UAE. Raed’s deep technology know-how as well as practical and operational business sense is driving elGrocer to continue its leadership with cutting edge customer experiences and brand engagement opportunities. Prior to joining elGrocer, Raed led a local Management Consulting firm that helped some of the largest regional enterprises in FMCG, Insurance, Telecom, and Healthcare to engage in digital transformation activities. Previously, Raed led the Middle East and Africa region for Motorola Mobility, a Google company, where he turned around and delivered a profitable and growing business. An MBA from the world-renowned Kellogg Business School of Management, and a BSc in Computer Engineering from Iowa State University, Raed’s wealth of hands-on technical experience and operational business insight have proven a significant asset for his clients and companies.

Stephanie
Michelsen

Jellatech

Stephanie
Michelsen

Jellatech

Stephanie is born in Denmark, grew up in Sweden and moved to the Bay Area, CA in 2011. She has since spent time in between Denmark and the US while completing her studies. She holds a BSc. Biotechnology (The University of Copenhagen, Denmark) & a MSc. Engineering in Biotechnology (The Technical University of Denmark). During her undergraduate degree she spent a semester abroad on exchange at The University of British Columbia, Canada. Stephanie is very entrepreneurially driven, she has participated in various extracurricular activities throughout academia (Ex. Board member @ Synapse – Life Science Connect: a student-driven organization focused on bridging academia and industry, Gold-medal winner iGEM (“The world championship in synthetic biology”) 2018, Fellow of the first cohort of The International Innovation Program (2iP) hosted by the Novo Nordisk Foundation and more. Throughout her studies she held various internships and part time roles in biotechnology companies & startups (Ex. LakePharma, BioPorto, Juvena Therapeutics, SynBioBeta, Wild Earth & more). Stephanie is mission-driven, motivated & has a go-getter attitude. The biggest life goal for Stephanie is to do her part to try to make the world a better place than how she found it, through impact entrepreneurship, building a successful business and building an all-star team.

Mohamad
Fayed

GrubTech

Mohamad
Fayed

GrubTech

With over 20 years’ experience as a successful C-Suite executive in US Fortune 100 companies and local family conglomerates, Mohamed has leveraged his technology affinity with deep retail industry knowledge to lead international brands through digital transformations. He has successfully launched the region’s largest luxury online pure player Ounass.com and the lifestyle platform, Nisnass.com. In addition, he has deployed omnichannel solutions with the launch MamasandPapas.ae, and Gap.ae in the GCC. He has recently co-founded GrubTech, an end to end ai powered digital platform enabling restaurants to successfully manage omnichannel operations. Previously he held the position of Senior Vice President of Omnichannel for Al Tayer for 12 years, where his responsibilities included Product & IT, Logistics, Merchandise Planning, Supply Chain and the E- Commerce division. Prior to joining Al Tayer Group, Mohamed has operated large big box multi-branded stores for Fortune 100 retailers including Macys, Burdines and Ross Stores. Mohamed holds a Bachelor of Science with majors in International Business and Marketing from Florida International University.

Imad
El
Fay

HB Investments

Imad
El
Fay

HB Investments

Imad is a Partner and venture builder at HBI where he helps founders build and scale their companies and leads the office’s private investments arm. Prior, Imad was an Associate Partner at Mckinsey where he led strategic and operational projects across multiple sectors.

Marwan
Tarabay

The Leap Nation

Marwan
Tarabay

The Leap Nation

Marwan is the Co-Founder and CEO of The Leap Nation, the region’s leading virtual restaurants startup and one of the first movers in this space globally. Marwan spent 14 years in technology with regional and global leading technology firms assisting government organizations build and execute digital transformation strategies. Driven by his passion for food and his technology experience, Marwan founded The Leap Nation in 2018 with a vision of building global restaurant chains virtually; today the company has 21 virtual brands operating across 5 cities in 3 countries.

Abdulaziz
AlMulla

Madar Farms

Abdulaziz
AlMulla

Madar Farms

Abdulaziz’s interest in food security began during his time at McKinsey & Co. where he was working extensively with GCC governments, and 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. Previously a banker with HSBC, Abdulaziz holds a BA from University of Pennsylvania and MBA from Wharton.

Fidele
El
Achkar

FoodSight

Fidele
El
Achkar

FoodSight

Fidele EL ACHKAR is a Lebanese Food Safety Consultant & Lead Auditor. As a woman entrepreneur, she is the founder & CEO of FoodSight, a Consultancy Services platform that empowers food businesses to simplify all their Food Industry activities, and comply with Local & International Food Safety & Quality requirements, while connecting them to top freelance talent. Before launching her own business at the age of 28, Fidele spent more than 8 years in the Lebanese food industry working with private & public sectors, NGOs and local food associations, in food technology, quality assurance, project management, inspections & audits on multiple systems (ISO, BRC, IFS, AIB standards…). She is a strong professional with a Master’s Degree focused in Food Technology and a BS in Biochemistry from the Lebanese University. She is currently a member in multiple professional clubs & associations such as: LLWB-the Lebanese League for Women in Business, LAFST-Lebanese Association of Food Scientists & Technologists, WIOO-Women In Olive Oil Lebanon Chapter… She is also a member and volunteer in social & humanitarian multinational NGOs: she is a humanitarian Global Goodwill Ambassador (GGA); member at NAAM, a women empowerment group from HOPE-MCF Foundation, Past President of Rotaract Club of Byblos, Lebanon–Rotary international District 2452.

Walid
Hajj

Kitch

Walid
Hajj

Kitch

A visionary and award-winning entrepreneur, Walid Hajj has defined his unique imprint in the food and beverages business creating innovative concepts that have disrupted the industry and established his credentials as a pioneer in F&B concepts that integrate advanced technology with exceptional service. With more than two decades of hands-on expertise in food services and related businesses, Walid co-founded Kitch in 2020, further revolutionising the ‘kitchen-in-the-cloud’ concept. A hybrid delivery-focused cloud kitchen and premium store-front operator, Kitch today takes digitisation and fast execution of F&B concepts to a new level. Prior to Kitch, Walid demonstrated his entrepreneurial acumen with the founding of Cravia, one of the region’s leading food and hospitality groups that brought world-class franchises to the Middle East, including Zaatar W Zeit, Five Guys, Cinnabon and Seattle’s Best Coffee.

Vanessa
Zuabi

Mint Basil Market

Vanessa
Zuabi

Mint Basil Market

Vanessa Zuabi is the CEO and Co-Founder of Mint Basil Market, an online platform that makes it easy to find healthy, all natural products, vetted by experts and fully personalized to your diet, health and lifestyle needs. Prior to Mint Basil Market, Vanessa founded JSR Impact a consultancy specializing in strategy, public private partnership development and corporate social responsibility. She has worked with the Aspen Institute, the Clinton Global Initiative, HSBC Bank, and several impact investment funds and social enterprises. She received her Masters from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service.

Samer
Hamadeh

Akiba Dori

Samer
Hamadeh

Akiba Dori

Samer is most known for creating the highly disruptive nightlife brands Republique (2011) & Stereo Arcade (2015). Both were incredibly popular in their own right & earned him a reputation as being a disruptive concept creator. Samer created & launched his latest concept, Akiba Dori in Dubai Design District in 2018 and is taking the brand to Saudi Arabia with Akiba Dori Jeddah opening in Q2 of 2021 & Riyadh opening early 2022, making it one of a handful of brands made in Dubai & going global. Akiba Dori is also set to open an outpost in Abu Dhabi in September 2021, in addition to 2 new outlets in Dubai in 2021. Known for his outspoken attitude towards the hospitality industry, Samer is regularly in the press discussing business candidly & has been featured on the Caterer Middle Easter Power 50 list & The Arabian Business DXB100 list of people helping shape the future of Dubai.

Ziad
Kamel

Cloud Restaurants

Ziad
Kamel

Cloud Restaurants

Ziad’s goal is to create and grow the world’s greatest food delivery brands. He is the CEO and Co-Founder of Cloud Restaurants, a cloud kitchen online restaurant company headquartered in Dubai. He is also the Managing Director and Co-Founder of Couqley, a full-service French Bistro & Bar. Ziad lives and works in Dubai leading his fast-growing team of more than +120 employees who are committed to scaling the company CloudRestaurants.com within the UAE and internationally. The company continues to grow fast with its wide selection of delivery-only restaurant brands operating in more than a dozen cloud kitchen facilitates. Ziad and his team are dedicated to innovating the online, on-demand food industry with the mission of being the best online-restaurant company in the world.

Heather
Henyon

Mindshift Capital

Heather
Henyon

Mindshift Capital

Heather Henyon is Founding Partner of Mindshift Capital, a venture fund based in Dubai that is investing in early stage women-led technology companies in the Middle East and globally. She is also the founder of the Women’s Angel Investor Network (WAIN), the first and largest women’s angel group in the Middle East. An active venture investor with a passion for fintech, Heather has over 100 direct and fund investments in the US, Europe, and the Middle East. She started her career on Wall Street and has almost 20 years of experience in finance, technology and strategy in emerging markets, including as founding CEO of Grameen-Jameel Microfinance Ltd. Heather is a member of the Investment Committee of US-based Next Wave Impact Fund and is a founding member and of Dubai Angel Investors.

Matija
Zulj

AGRIVI

Matija
Zulj

AGRIVI

Matija has founded AGRIVI – a global farm management software company with a vision to change the way food is produced, and positively impact over a billion lives by helping farmers reach sustainable, resource-efficient and profitable production. Today, he is recognized entrepreneur and leader in the industry that has gave keynote speeches worldwide to popularize digital agriculture. His passion about technology, agriculture and positive impact in the world set up standards for the company that is today recognizes as one of key companies in farm management industry by market research companies.

Fouad
Aoun

noon Food

Fouad
Aoun

noon Food

Fouad Aoun, leads noon’s newest addition to its digital ecosystem – noon Food, a restaurant-first platform developed to support F&B operators in the region. With over eight years of advisory and operational experience in the Middle East and Africa, Fouad started his career in strategy consulting at Bain & Company in the UAE and South Africa. Fouad spent his time focused on merger integrations, performance improvement and strategy within various industries before joining MercyCorps Social Ventures as a Harvard Leadership Fellow. In 2016, Fouad transitioned full-time to NewLight Africa, taking on the role of Chief Operating Officer. Holding an MBA from Harvard Business School, Fouad’s dynamic background gives him an excellent skill set for the future of noon Food. A homegrown tech platform, noon has rapidly built deep native capabilities in its marketplace, fulfillment, logistics, and payment platforms. noon has a bold mission: to build a world-class suite of products and services to shape the future of the digital landscape in the Middle East. Along the way, noon also wants to empower a digital-first generation and drive technology innovations to solve challenges in the region.

Giacomo
Bernardelli

Casinetto

Giacomo
Bernardelli

Casinetto

Giacomo Bernardelli is the founder and Managing Director of Casinetto, a manufacturer, distributor, and e-commerce service of the best Italian and local food products in the UAE. Bernardelli graduated cum laude from La Sapienza University in business administration, and started his career in investment banking in 2003 with Morgan Stanley. In 2008, he set up InMotion Media, a mixed rent-a-car and media concept, which closed in 2009 when Bernardelli moved to Dubai, UAE. In 2010, he launched Casinetto which takes its name from Il Casinetto, a family-run olive oil farm in Italy, about two hours from Rome in the foothills surrounding an extinct volcano, where the Bernardelli family has been pressing olive oil for generations. For a decade already, Bernardelli has kept the family tradition alive by bringing top quality fine foods to the UAE through Casinetto. He lives in Dubai with his wife and son.

Yasin
Aboudaoud

Brinc MENA

Yasin
Aboudaoud

Brinc MENA

Yasin Aboudaoud is a Hong Kong-born entrepreneur who has been in the global trading business for over 12 years. While co-founding Ecico Group he has been able to implement projects and distribution to major companies from the Middle East, Europe and South America. Focused on project management Yasin has led to the development of premium hotels, residential compounds and amusement parks. Having completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto in international development in 2004, he then made his way back to Asia. This gave him the global vision of A-Z solutions in market development and product distribution. His expertise in China in the last 10 years has allowed him to connect people with diverse products across the globe. At the forefront of his successes, with technology as his passion, Yasin firmly believes in the power of global markets. Currently, in between the GCC, Hong Kong and China, Yasin is very active in taking on more markets and building more products to pitch to the world.

Christie
Lagally

Rebellyous Foods

Christie
Lagally

Rebellyous Foods

Christie Lagally is the founder and CEO of Rebellyous Foods, a food production technology company working to make plant-based meat price-competitive with traditional chicken products. She is a mechanical engineer and holds multiple patents in manufacturing technology. She spent much of her career at Boeing working on commercial airplanes, design, and manufacturing. Previously, she served as a Senior Scientist for the Good Food Institute uncovering the technical barriers in the development of plant-based meat and clean meat. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in Organizational Psychology, Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Mechanical Engineering. She is also an active member of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, a co-founder of the Humane Voters of Washington and is a Washington State Council Member for the Humane Society of the United States.

Pierre
Paslier

Notpla

Pierre
Paslier

Notpla

Pierre is a London-based Innovation Design Engineer. He started his career as a Packaging Engineer for L’Oréal in the daytime and hacking 3D-printers in his living room at night. He then decided to study design at the Royal College of Art and in 2013, he co-designed one of the first consumer delta 3D-printers. He loves DIY, especially if it involves drones lifting dangerous electronic components or street art robots redecorating the streets. This passion for innovation led him to co-found two startups, Gravity Sketch (3D creation in VR) and Notpla (edible packaging). Driven by the urge to act on our plastic crisis, he’s now 100% focused on Ooho, the edible water bottle as Co-CEO of Notpla. He has a Masters degree from the RCA’s Innovation Design Engineering programme (MA & MSci) and INSA de Lyon (MEng). He has written articles for Wired Magazine and given a number of conferences about his projects at TEDx conferences in Athens and Warwick.

Sean
Peters

DryGro (C02i)

Sean
Peters

DryGro (C02i)

Sean Peters is the CEO of DryGro, an agriculture technology company developing new ways to produce protein on otherwise non-arable land. DryGro was founded in 2015 at Oxford University, and currently has operations in London and Kenya alongside partnerships with four universities and the European Space Agency. Sean has spent his career focused on innovation and entrepreneurship. In 2012, he founded a small angel fund focused on early-stage entrepreneurs in East Africa, and in 2013 he co-founded a social purpose business accelerator in Vancouver called Radius Ventures. Previous to joining DryGro, he directed a research project into innovation and acceleration models at Emory University, which partnered with 70 entrepreneur support programs around the world to better understand what helps ventures grow, and what holds them back. Sean was born in British Columbia, Canada, and currently lives in London, UK. He holds an MBA from Said School of Business.

Ziad
Abichaker

Cedar Environmental

Ziad
Abichaker

Cedar Environmental

Ziad Abichaker. CEO Cedar Environmental – Lebanon: Environmental Engineer – Industrial Engineer – Master Garbage Man Ziad is a multi-disciplinary engineer who specializes in building Municipal Recycling Facilities on the communal level going against the trend of a central Mega recycling Plant. While doing research at Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA his team developed a technology to accelerate the composting cycle of organic waste in an odorless manner to produce high grade fertilizer. Recently, Ziad and his engineering team, after four years of research, developed a new technology which transforms plastic bags into solid plastic panels, dubbed ECO-BOARD, used in the outdoors to replace wooden and steel panels. They have won the 2013 International Energy Globe Award for this revolutionary process.

Ahmed
Khan

CellAgri

Ahmed
Khan

CellAgri

Ahmed Khan is a cellular agriculture consultant and the founder of CellAgri, a news and market insights startup exploring the future of food with cellular agriculture. CellAgri provides the latest updates and insights on a range of topics and trends relating to cellular agriculture. CellAgri’s platform also tracks all the major and upcoming players in the field. Ahmed is also the author of the first cellular agriculture eBook, ‘An Introduction to Cellular Agriculture,’ an easy-to-read introduction to the field and has organized a range of virtual events for the ecosystem.

Duncan
McIntyre

DX Ventures

Duncan
McIntyre

DX Ventures

Duncan started his career at Macquarie Bank in the principal investment team in 2005, working on many cross-border transactions based in Sydney, Cape Town, and Frankfurt. He joined Delivery Hero in 2014 and has helped internationalize the business through over 30+ M&A transactions. He was also responsible for the effort to list the company on the Frankfurt stock exchange in 2017.

Triska
Hamid

Wamda

Triska
Hamid

Wamda

Triska Hamid is the editorial director at Wamda where she drives the platform’s content agenda from features and research to events. She has covered the Mena telecoms and technology landscape for the past 10 years and has been published in MEED, The FT, The National and the Telegraph.

Jihad
El
Eit

kaykroo

Jihad
El
Eit

kaykroo

A visionary and tenacious entrepreneur, Jihad El-Eit stands at the helm of kaykroo, a macro scale foodtech business encompassing more than 15 cloud kitchens and brand residences across the UAE and very soon, Saudi Arabia. Over the last two decades, Jihad has spearheaded multiple entrepreneurial ventures in the Middle East and Asia, starting with the establishment of one of Pakistan’s largest retail and wholesale telecom distribution companies. His foray into the UAE’s F&B sector began in 2011, with the launch of Manoushe Street – a popular Lebanese urban eatery that has become one of the flagship brands in kaykroo’s portfolio. Today, Jihad’s passion for delicious and creative food concepts, combined with a data-driven approach to understanding customers has led him to build one of the region’s largest platforms for virtual restaurants.

Huw
Thomas

Counterfactual Ventures

Huw
Thomas

Counterfactual Ventures

Huw is a serial entrepreneur focused on sustainability in the food and energy sectors. He is the Co-Founder & President of Counterfactual Ventures, a Venture Studio focused on alternative protein. Before Counterfactual, Huw was COO of cultivated meat startup New Age Meats (IndieBio alum + first cell ag pork), co-founder of renewable energy consultancy SCENE, and CEO of sports nutrition startup Fuelit. He holds an MBA from the University of Oxford, where he presided over the largest synthetic biology student society in the UK, and served as Head of EMEA Entrepreneurship Programmes at iGEM. Huw has supported entrepreneurs at many of the world’s leading incubator programmes, including as Venture Manager at CDL Oxford, Entrepreneur in Residence at Entrepreneur First and mentor for Zinc, EIT Food Seedbed & the MIINT MBA impact investing competition.

Jonathan
Reyes

Aquaponics AI

Jonathan
Reyes

Aquaponics AI

Jonathan is a social impact entrepreneur revolutionizing the way we grow and source food using technology and decentralized farming methods. He focuses on scaling and multiplying small commercial aquaponic farms throughout the globe.

Nizar
Fakih

Step

Nizar
Fakih

Step

Co-founder at Step

Benjamin
Mouflard

CHATFOOD

Benjamin
Mouflard

CHATFOOD

Ex-Facebook, Benjamin is on a mission to empower small and medium businesses with the best technology to sell online. Started in UAE in 2018, ChatFood’s social e-commerce platform now helps more than 5000+ merchants in the region to connect with their customers, sell and succeed in an online world. Its platform has been recognized by tech giants like Instagram and WhatsApp who gave ChatFood exclusive access to their tools to help SMB’s. ChatFood is behind the [supportlocalrestaurants.com](http://supportlocalrestaurants.com/) movement that helped restaurants resist during the pandemic.

Nicole
Rogers

Drawdown Foods

Nicole
Rogers

Drawdown Foods

Nicole Rogers has been working within the agri-food sector for over 20 years. In 2013, she founded Agriprocity, an agri-food focused advisory firm. Agriprocity has helped sovereign wealth funds, governments and multinational companies build sourcing optimisation strategies for a variety of food chains. Early on, the team at Agriprocity recognized the sector shift into alternative proteins, and developed strong capabilities in this emerging category including algae and other photosynthetic organisms. In 2018, Agriprocity was invited to be part of a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation project in Kenya, and as a result shifted a large part of their practice towards building supply chains in Africa. Agriprocity’s first investment in this space is Drawdown Foods. A clean label ingredient company located in Kenya. Drawdown is creating natural flavours and nutritious profiles, as well as functional ingredient products to satisfy growing global demand for plant based foods.

Nadav
Berger

PeakBridge

Nadav
Berger

PeakBridge

Nadav is a third-generation food entrepreneur, actively built companies specializing in food applications, marketing and distribution. In 2008, Nadav co-founded the food applications lab FoodLab. The innovative developments at FoodLab lead to founding FoodLab Capital, a premier seed fund. Nadav holds a B.A in economics and political science from Tel Aviv University and an EMBA from Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management.