A member of the Access to Experts initiative, Basem answers the Hub's Q&A so you can get to know him better.
With over 25 years of experience in the agricultural sector, Basem Al Khawaldeh is a professional expert in protected agriculture, hydroponics and aquaponics. He currently provides agribusiness consultancy to a wide range of clients that includes government, funding organizations, food security agencies, private sector stakeholders and research organizations.
Throughout his career, Basem has provided strategic organizational leadership, expertise and support to harness the emerging opportunities in agricultural technologies. He developed strategies and organizational priorities in this area while engaging with key Khalifa Fund staff and partners to act on these opportunities, including with investment funds, individual investors, agribusiness companies and research organizations.
Can you summarize your role in one sentence?
My current duties as a Technical Consultant with the Khalifa Fund involve developing and leading the implementation of new agriculture initiatives that lead to establishing new business relationships and connections.
What are two truths and one myth about your field?
One Myth: Farmers will have to grow 70 per cent more food than what is currently produced to feed the world's growing population by 2050.
- The agriculture industry is the single largest employer in the world, providing livelihoods for 40% of today's global population.
- Investing in small farm holders is an important way to increase food security, as well as food production for local and global markets.
Who would benefit most from your expertise?
As an agricultural consultant and adviser, I can give all the support needed by agritech startups and entrepreneurs.
Tell us about your experience working with a startup/entrepreneur.
Over the years, the Khalifa Fund has supported several projects that impact the agricultural sector, with a focus on applicants showing commitment and well-rounded effort, with the objectives of improving their productivity and profitability to increase their companies’ income.
We had an applicant that came to us explaining that he had an empty plot of land but no idea regarding what business he should start with it. Here’s how we helped him:
We signed up the entrepreneur for an idea sourcing training course to help him find and choose a new idea and the appropriate business model.
Eventually, he chose to build an agricultural company focusing on greenhouses with hydroponics systems, registering to be part of our agricultural support program Zaarie.
We reviewed the applicant’s capability and knowledge, and he qualified for our program.
We admitted the applicant to our greenhouse and hydroponics training course to close the gaps in his knowledge and experience.
We advised and coached him on how to conduct the market research for his project, which included know-how on marketing fresh produce in the market.
We supervised his business model evaluation, both technical and financial.
We evaluated his business plan.
We supervised him with monitoring the setup of his company, which included supporting him with the negotiation and selection of suppliers, monitoring deviation if any, and solving any issues that arise during the setup while providing the needed approvals.
Finally, we monitored the operation through the company’s access to market, marketing plan, recruitment, and attending meetings with stakeholders as needed.
What are some common challenges you've noticed entrepreneurs face, and why is it important for them to seek mentorship on these topics?
The principal challenge I’ve identified over the years is the insufficient access to knowledge and information for entrepreneurs, which is something we at the Khalifa Fund have striven to remedy.
Inadequate access to financial services is another prominent issue we are addressing by offering SMEs an approved list of service providers.
What’s the best professional advice you’ve ever received? What about one piece of advice you would share with your younger self?
Live your life, not someone else's. As for a piece of advice I would share with my younger self, I’d say “Venture outside of your comfort zone.”
Basem is part of our Access to Experts initiative, providing mentorship and support to prospective and existing entrepreneurs looking to grow in Abu Dhabi. Connect with him and other industry thought leaders here.