Hello Diana. We noticed that OneAgrix is getting more and more aggressive lately at the global stage when it comes to the topic of Halal. Congratulations. So, what are you guys up too lately?
Doing market entry and overseas presence work in 3 continents. This involves assisting emerging nations with high potential for cross-border exports which were once not possible due to logistical and payment challenges to come onboard the B2B Halal OneAgrix marketplace. When this is executed right, we stand a chance in fulfilling one of the SDGs – No poverty. We would have the privilege of really making a difference for nations who were once closed in to look into new markets and improve their economic status/standing.
It is truly a source of satisfaction for us at OneAgrix to contribute to this cause despite being a for-profit company as we want to walk the talk in having our heart and soul of OneAgrix as truly the food custodian to humanity. It is not always about money.
Can you share with us a little bit about yourself, what actually OneAgrix is all about and your role in the organisation?
I am not one to toot my own horn but as a marketer, we do need to sell ourselves at times. Professionally, I, fortunately, do have people within my sphere of influence who believe that I am a visionary. Here is an excerpt from our Vice Chairman, Rushdi Siddiqui, who needs no introduction in the Halal/Islamic economy:
“One sees many bright, ambitious and passionate young people globally. I had read about Ms Sabrain in the media, her start-up (OneAgrix, B2B Halal eCommerce) signing an escrow agreement, and was fascinated about a young woman in Asia with a vision for addressing the pain points holistically in ‘my space.’ She articulated the gaps, suggested pathways, and focused on execution.
I actually reached out to her, spoke to her many times, to see if she was real, it happens. In agreeing to become Vice Chairman of OneAgrix, I saw not only a young business-person but a leader for this space!“
One thing’s for sure though is that I am a business strategist and dealmaker. A founder can be strong in marketing, operations, HR, accounting and what have you but without a strategic mindset and deal-making know-how, you can’t be at the peak of business and you may not be able to pivot once you hit a brick wall. I am lucky having had the experience of dealings in the hard commodities space at B2B and government levels. Not easy being a millennial female but that number of years took the word “intimidation” out of my vocabulary.
Personally, causes that are close to my heart are children and youth from underprivileged backgrounds, victims of bullying, food sustainability and providing access to safe Halal food for future generations, with the last 2 points bringing us to the topic of OneAgrix.
OneAgrix’s mission is to provide safe Halal food with surety and without any doubts to the “halal-ness” of each and every food ingredient on the label for generations to come. Halal food fraud and trust deficit are on a rise as criminally and profiteering inclined food producers resort to cheating and counterfeiting. End consumers are worried and want to know more about where their food comes from and what’s in it. Do you honestly know what all the funny names and numbers of the ingredients, preservatives, additives and colouring are that is in your food? Let alone how authentically Halal they are? We understand how huge this problem is and it goes even beyond the Halal economy.
Hence, OneAgrix technology solutions where we can ensure food safety and track-and-traceability from farm-to-fork and seed-to-shelf. At the same time, our payment and logistics solutions embedded in our marketplace greatly reduce the barrier of doing cross-border business between buyers and sellers, thus aiding the flow of Halal food trade on a global scale.
As for my role in the organisation: it is to share my vision with everyone within the hierarchy and empower them to work towards that vision. Likewise, they will share the same vision with all our partners, customers and stakeholders in the Halal eco-system and hopefully synergistically achieve that vision in due time. NO mean feat but Rome wasn’t built in a day, was it?
What makes the people decided to go for OneAgrix and not the rest of the Halal marketplace available?
One of the main reasons would be market access as we open doors for our suppliers to international buyers and not limit them to regional. At OneAgrix we educate our suppliers and buyers that in order to have a competitive advantage and not be commoditized, they need to brand and package their products differently and understand “cultural diffusion through food”.
A great example would be, Non-western Muslims from all over the world want to enjoy popular Western/European foods e.g. Spanish cured meats, German sausages and French beef bourguignon but have no access to Halal versions of them. Another example, Muslims from the Western world would want to savour Halal “exotic” foods e.g. Indonesian nasi rawon, Tanzanian nyama choma or Khmer-style Cambodian yellow curry. With OneAgrix, the platform would provide for Muslims all over the world to sample Halal versions of foods they have never even heard of! Other than Halal end-products, we’re also the marketplace for buyers to procure Halal food ingredients that are very much needed in food manufacturing facilities.
A few other differentiating factors that position OneAgrix as the Halal marketplace would be these:
- We provide cross-border “Milestone” escrow payment service;
- We are equipped with “Live” shipping quotes for booking of cross-border logistics providers;
- We are embedded with IoT and blockchain-powered, track-and-trace supply chain solutions
As you know Asian people, they hardly want to buy stuff online. They prefer to be able to touch the product, feel it or maybe smell it first before buying. How do you encourage them to do this online?
I would beg to differ though! I think most internet-connected Asians who have credit/debit cards in 2019 mostly buy things online, at least when we’re talking about the top of the bell curve. Of course, there are certain demographics that just don’t do any buying online but with respect to Asians vs Westerners, the disparity is not much.
How we encourage them to buy is through good product-description copywriting catering to all 3 visual, auditory and kinesthetic types of potential buyers on your website. Good quality images, the preponderance of proof (reviews) and great design UI/UX are also must-haves. And also, live chat is becoming more and more needed on eCommerce websites as buyers get more and more demanding.
Being one of the thought-leaders in the Halal economy, how do you see the momentum in Asia is evolving?
Firstly, thank you for your confidence in viewing me as a thought leader. All credit goes to God for the knowledge and our four amazing advisors/mentors for their support.
I think the Halal economy in Asia is really evolving and momentum is at its full swing. Leaders are obviously Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia due to the brand awareness and authority of Jakim, MUIS and MUI. But with that said, China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and the Philippines also want a slice of the $trillion dollar Halal industry and with good reasons.
When I was invited to speak in a panel at Horasis Global Meeting earlier in April, even Latin and North Asia countries like Venezuela, Argentina, Tatarstan and Azerbaijan are expanding into the Halal market. And the interest shown by their representatives during our network sessions shows great promise for OneAgrix as we build relationships with their trade ministries.
Competition in the Halal economy can only be positive but above all, it’s the Muslim end-consumers that stand to benefit greatly from this and that is a very, very good trajectory where we’re headed.
In what way do you see OneAgrix can disrupt the Halal economy per se?
One thing we know for sure, based on trends from the giants of the food industries, the global Halal supply chain and its stakeholders as-we-know-it will have to inevitably accept the change once it comes (especially with regards to Halal food safety, food security and traceability).
That is why at OneAgrix, we want to soften the impact by providing an entry point (for lack of a better word) with our technology solutions.
Unlike other Halal traceability solutions which are built from scratch, OneAgrix uses the highly reputable, cost-effective and scalable OriginTrail-powered blockchain infrastructure which was the first to be awarded Walmart’s Food Safety Innovation Spark Award in 2017, one of the top key players cited alongside IBM, Microsoft and SAP SE in the “Global Blockchain in Agriculture Industry 2018 Market Research Report” and also mentioned as a trusted solution in World Economic Forum’s white paper entitled: “Inclusive Deployment of Blockchain for Supply Chains”
Blockchain and IoT technology adoption are already on the rise in the food industries outside of Halal, hence OneAgrix’s push to make our solutions a collective reality – which is the Halal eco-system for all Halal stakeholders. We are calling to arm all the Halal certification bodies, laboratories, blockchain food traceability providers, abattoirs, farms, manufacturers and distributors to be involved in the decentralised sharing of data, for the benefit of all.
Let’s talk about marketing a little bit. Which one or a combination of these are creating a better impact for OneAgrix’s brand presence out there – online platforms or traditional ones?
I would have to say both.
Why is that?
Online gives you automation and scale and because we are doing global, we really, really need online platforms and software that range from marketing to sales and customer support to be at the edge of technology. And because Halal and B2B industries still are pretty much traditional and fragmented, a lot of real person-to-person networking (trade expos, etc) and offline marketing is still needed as we engage with stakeholders and position our company.
When you say this works better than the other one, can you share a little bit specific on how OneAgrix achieves your marketing objective through that strategy?
There is no silver bullet or magic marketing method. Our objective always is to:
- Achieve the lowest customer acquisition cost with each customer gained
- To increase their lifetime value as much as we possibly can. Many, many methods (marketing and sales) are tried and tested, many times and we just keep improving on the metrics.
To give an extreme example of this principle; there is to this day, a company that has been testing the conversion rate of their advertisement’s headline for 4 decades! And until they reach 100% conversion rate which is obviously impossible, they will just keep testing and tweaking for as long as it keeps improving. We hope to be as steadfast as them.
Personal branding or corporate branding is more crucial?
While I believe both are crucial if I had to choose one, it would be corporate branding.
So many cases of when personalities behind the brands leave (in the form of death, retirement, etc) so do the performance of the brands or the entities themselves. There is “no individual that is bigger than the team” and because OneAgrix was incepted for the purpose of safe trading of Halal foods for the benefit of EVERYONE, I see myself as just another cog in the machine that is the Halal ecosystem. A brand is an idea and best summed up by a quote from V for Vendetta, “There is only an idea. And ideas are bulletproof”. So to answer your question – I choose corporate branding over personal branding as the former can’t die whereas the latter can.
Many people believe LinkedIn is the ultimate saviour when it comes to personal branding. What’s your take on this?
I think this is true especially when you are in B2B. Facebook and Twitter come a close 2nd and 3rd. But if you’re talking about B2C then it depends – where are your customers ‘hanging around’ at and what are the products and services you’re selling? Are they on Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, phpBB forums, etc? You need to know where they are and be engaging with them. And when I mean engaging it means providing value online and not “buy this! buy this!” every time you post or comment. It’s called the Know-Like-Trust formula. Before they trust you enough to buy from or enquire with you, they need to like you first (by you giving value). And before they like you, you need to be known first (hence engaging with them on their favourite platforms).
Anything you wish to share with the readers?
We are all leaders on our own paths to inspire change for the betterment of our families, communities and societies. Leadership is not about being a top CEO or a billionaire or being the biggest problem solver in the room. It is about facing whatever storms that come onto you in your daily lives and taking control of your life. Once you have control over yourself, you multiply that leadership of yourself and then lead to help others. Why am I saying all this?
Being relevant to the future of Halal food, all of us can do our part by starting from home. Being mindful of what we put in our bodies, being aware of the provenance, origin and trace where our Halal food comes from is leadership. What we’re feeding our family has a direct impact on our physical, emotional and mental health which greatly affects performance and emotions in life and in a way leadership. We are what we eat. Halal encourages clean and pure food. Are we taking control of our own lives and are we leading by example for the future generation?
Like everything, it starts at home.
The best way to contact you?