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This Intrepid Entrepreneur is Revolutionizing the Frozen Food Industry

Business

Daily Harvest founder Rachel Drori is completely changing our perception of frozen foods with her variety of prepared frozen smoothies and parfaits. Drori founded Daily Harvest two years ago, when she was nine months pregnant, and has since taken the grocery delivery service by storm. Drori sat down with our Founder Iman Oubou to talk about how she has managed to start a business that has gained the attention of the likes of Gwenyth Paltrow and Serena Williams, all while simultaneously starting a family.


Cold Brew + Almond Energizer Smoothie

In case you’re not familiar, here’s how Daily Harvest works: You visit the website and choose what you would like to stock up on. DH’s menu now includes pre-fixed smoothies, parfaits, overnight oats, soups and sundaes.

Blackberry + Majik Chia Parfait

Then, you enter your email, zip code and select your plan: options include weekly packages offering six cups, 12 cups or 24 cups or a monthly package of 24 cups. You then build your box by selecting your preferred ingredients, which, according to Drori, are all 100% plant-based, whole (not sliced!) fruits and vegetables. After filling up your “box,” you select your delivery day – which is a minimum of five days, and viola! You are signed up for an auto-renewed subscription of your selected meals. On the delivery day, you open your door to the frozen packaged deliciousness that arrive on dry ice.

Drori explains to Iman exactly why she’s here to debunk the way Americans think about frozen foods and how their nutritional value is superior to the hot pockets and TV dinners that we often associate the frozen food aisles with. “What’s interesting is when you think of frozen food, we think of dinosaur chicken nuggets,” Drori says. “When you ask someone what’s in their freezer, they usually say vodka and ice cream. Let’s take a blueberry for example; it’s picked green, before it’s ready, they never have time to fully ripen, and they degrade in nutrient content by the time they go from the vine to your belly. We pick all of our fruits and vegetables at their nutritional peak.” In contrast, a blueberry that’s picked and not frozen has 50% less vitamin C than its frozen counterpart, according to Drori.

As far as competitors? Drori doesn’t really have any at the moment. She credits and shows gratitude to companies like Blue Apron and Plated that came before her in the grocery delivery space, but it’s her complicated way of delivering her nutritional goods on dry ice that really sets her apart from any other company.

According to Drori, “delivering things is not easy and that’s why it took me a year to get it up and running. I’d say that our number competitive edge comes down to our brand. We tried to do something in a different way, and it doesn’t really look like other things that you’ve seen in the frozen aisle. That’s why we don’t have any competitors right now.”

While Drori’s business model itself is impressive, her scrappy, no-nonsense persona is just as inspiring. Drori spoke to Iman about her experience preparing and hand-delivering her customers’ orders during the early stages of the business, to breastfeeding her way through investment meetings with venture capitalists. “I’ve nursed in front of VCs. My thing is: if it makes you uncomfortable, it’s probably not a good fit,” Drori claims. But it’s things like her fearless way of breastfeeding during meetings and going into work while nine months pregnant that has led her to finding out what works best for her fruitful business. “You go into these more traditional venture capitalists and you’re nine months pregnant and talking about your whole female team. It’s about finding the right fit, because we’ve had many awkward conversations and really wonderful ones where people were would say, ‘wow, you’re really doing this, we’re excited!’”

Drori also tells Iman how her mind is constantly racing with a whirlwind of thoughts. Even the busiest businesswomen, however, needs to find their moment of tranquility every day. For this founder, her peace of mind comes from the hour-a-day that she dedicates to being a mom. “I make sure – hell or high water, that I am home at 5:30 p.m. and [my employees] should not contact me from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., since that’s when I put my kids to bed. One hour in the evening to decompress for a headspace moment,” she reveals. Though the day picks right back up from 7 p.m. to midnight, that hour is Drori’s time to be a mom and maintain a balance in her hectic life.

To learn more about Drori’s day-to-day life at Daily Harvest, her tips for fellow entrepreneurs and to hear the crazy things she’s been asked as a female in a male-dominated industry, check out the full video here.

7min read
Culture

The Middle East And North Africa Are Brimming With Untapped Female Potential

Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.


A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.

The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.

Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")

The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."

This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.

Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.

She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."

Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.

"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei

While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.

Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.

The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."

This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.

Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.