June Public Meeting: Nefsy founder Khaled Diab speaks with the UAE Careers Community
Khaled Diab, entrepreneur and founder of the Nefsy food app joined the UAE Careers Community as guest speaker earlier this month for the group’s final public meeting of the 2019/2020 Academic Year. The meeting brought focus to the world of e-commerce and its potential to help people in need, and also to young people’s important role in making this happen. In his message to the Community, Mr. Diab highlighted the importance of connecting young people with their mission, and drew on his story in founding Nefsy, “the food App with a heart”, which feeds one person for every meal ordered through the app.
“It was like receiving a call, and answering the call,” Mr. Diab spoke of the inspiration behind starting the App. After an expensive 9 course dinner at a corporate event in Dubai last year, “with very small portions”, Mr. Diab went out for a sandwich at a fast food chain, and as he left with his order he found a tearful man taking hold of his hand, asking for food. The man refused to accept money, and when Mr. Diab gave him the sandwich the man was in such a state that he began eating without removing the paper wrapping. “He was not hungry, he was starving…which made me think about these things in a different way. With the useless fancy dinner, we just had I could feed a village. What can we do to feed hungry people daily?”
Mr. Diab spent a year working out ways to solve this problem that would not cost major amounts of time or money, and found his solution through e-commerce–, Nefsy was born. Now the food app is used by customers all over the UAE, and Mr. Diab says he does not plan to stop there: “We have to be in 30 countries in five years. We cannot feed the world from Dubai.”
For Mr. Diab, Nefsy’s mission aligned with his own life story, and his childhood experiences of being well provided for, as well as that of losing that sense of security when his father’s businesses went through a difficult time. “We have to have a mission in our life. It doesn’t mean we have to take it in the same direction as Nefsy, people helping each other…but we need to find within ourselves what we need to achieve, and why we need to achieve it”.
Seeing the potential of young people as a major driver of Nefsy and e-commerce more broadly, Mr. Diab opened internship opportunities to high school students at Dubai English Speaking College. The students have helped the Nefsy team reach new customers and vendors around the country by supporting the Company’s marketing and social media efforts, exploring potential career paths for themselves at the same time. For many young people, “that future is online” says Mr. Diab, “and they are more prepared than we are”.
Dinu Bors, Nefsy’s Partnerships Manager who also oversees the interns had this to say: “[Every company] is trying to get on TikTok, but pretty much nobody is understanding it. Much better to have a young person. We have one student focusing on TikTok, a few students on Market research, and two other students focusing on social media.”
Involvement with companies like Nefsy helps students connect the dots between their life stories and their future paths in life. It teaches them important skills and shows them how they can make their own way as entrepreneurs doing things they really care about. It is in connecting with that purpose that young people will ultimately find their greatest success and satisfaction. For Mr. Diab, that mission could not be clearer: “You are eating a fancy meal for 500 Dirhams, compare it to giving 50 meals to 50 people who really need to eat and don’t have access to food…tell me which one will give you more pleasure?”.
Connecting with organizations that make a positive impact in our world and communities is a big part of what we do at the Community. June’s public meeting merged the world of food, e-commerce, and a major world cause, and brought them together in our mission to help young people in their path. The full meeting is available to stream.
Eric J. Steere is a core member of the UAE Careers Community and works as the College and Career Adviser at Diyar International Private School, Fujairah.