Volunteer Stories

Dr. Ahmed Awad: Supporting Olive Production in Morocco

Ahmed volunteered with a Farmer-to-Farmer pilot program in October 2013. He consulted with Sicopa, a Moroccan agribusinesses that primarily produces olives.
  • Story Snapshot

  • Country: Morocco
  • VEGA Lead Member: International Executive Service Corps (IESC)
  • Objective: The Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA), in partnership with the Moroccan Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AMIC), piloted a Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) small niche project that, for the first time, engaged venture capital (VC) firms in the fulfillment of F2F objectives. By developing a relationship with the 20 firms that are active in Morocco through AMIC, VEGA sought to broaden the scope and deepen the impact of agribusinesses positioned for investor funding through targeted volunteer technical assistance, coaching, and mentoring.
  • Volunteers: Ahmed spent his career working in product development, including decades with Unilever, giving him many transferrable skills to help emerging companies in developing countries. In this video, Dr. Awad emphasizes how the company he worked with in Morocco actually had a fairly advanced infrastructure, but was in need of specialized value chain advice. Luckily, Dr. Awad was ideally suited to help with this issue. Dr. Awad also discusses how his gratefulness for a college scholarship in his youth to come to the United States from Egypt has led him to a life of volunteering.
Dr. Ahmed Awad

Dr. Ahmed Awad discusses his experiences volunteering with a USAID funded Farmer-to-Farmer pilot program in Morocco.

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DSCN0288 copy 2Ahmed Awad, PhD
President/Owner, Product Development International, LLC
Location: Paramus, NJ
Career Summary: Ahmed has over 40 years of experience in food product development and quality assurance. He received his PhD in Food Science & Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin before launching his career with companies that included Unilever, Domino Sugar Corporation, and Reckitt Benckiser, Inc. He has volunteered with IESC and other VEGA member organizations in Azerbaijan, Jordan, Kenya, Moldova, Tajikistan and Ukraine in addition to Morocco. 
Area(s) of Expertise: New product development, quality assurance, HACCP certification, marketing
Education: PhD, Food Science & Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin
Language(s) Spoken: English, Arabic

ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW
Name of project: Engaging Venture Capital to Strengthen Agricultural Value Chains in Morocco
Volunteer Assignment and Impact: Sicopa, the company Ahmed worked with in Morocco, had a fairly advanced infrastructure but was in need of specialized advice. His assignment helped improve the productivity of Sicopa’s automated and manual production lines by providing an assessment of production techniques and developing an action plan for improvement in the production and storage of table olives.

“I was really lucky and blessed…so I want to give back some of the knowledge.”–Dr. Ahmed Awad