We spoke to Barakah founder Rabah Habiss to further discuss and understand how the Barakah app is helping society become more sustainable, ethical and practical.
Founded by Rabah Habiss, Munira Al Muammar, and Abdulaziz Al Saud, Barakah was created to address the serious yet ambiguous problem of food waste in the commercial realm.
The idea revolves around the fact that when restaurants don’t sell all their food by the end of the day, the remaining food surplus gets thrown away due to freshness policies. Barakah aims to partner with restaurants to take the surplus of fresh food and sell it to consumers for half the price.
Rabah came from a tech background with almost ten years of experience in the field. He worked on digital projects in the past, which all had some traction, including some prominent ones, such as the Bupa Arabia Healthcare app. His involvement in the latter was pivotal in how Barakah came to be.
After moving back from the United States, where he was pursuing his higher education, Rabah began working on the Bupa Arabia Healthcare app, where he met the cofounders of Barakah, Munira and Abdulaziz. After brainstorming with Munira and Abdulaziz, their ideas eventually led to the realization that commercial food waste was a specific and significant problem that they could attempt to solve, which eventually evolved into what Barakah is today.
The problem of commercial food waste
While still not widely understood or talked about in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, food waste is a local issue that ultimately contributes to a global dilemma. According to Rabah, food waste makes up 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, enormously impacting the environment. Building on this, Rabah explained how 40% of waste is food waste, equating to around SR 50 million being wasted yearly. Restaurants waste 30% of food daily, the root of the problem that Barakah tries to tackle. Their goal is to reduce its impact not just on the environment but on businesses and consumers themselves. Rabah explains that Saudi Arabia’s food waste consumption is double the global per capita average of 1.25 kg. “Here, we’re used to this culture of abundance, so our mission as Barakah is to tackle commercial food waste, change this mentality and hopefully get to zero waste in the food and beverage industry.”
How does Barakah work?
In a gist, Barakah is a marketplace that connects the merchant with the nearest consumer for half the price. The process is relatively simple– whenever a restaurant or food merchant finds itself with any kind of surplus of fresh food during the workday, they list the products on the Barakah marketplace, and the consumers interested in such products can have them delivered to them for half the price of the original product. Rabah stressed that the food used is not leftovers but the food surplus at these commercial entities. The benefit to the consumer is that they get their favorite fresh meals for half the price.
Elaborating further, Rabah mentions how they were able to successfully change the consumer mentality regarding the idea of a surplus of food being sold through the user experience on the app; Barakah was able to showcase how surplus does not mean leftovers and that this is just as fresh and as delicious as if you were to eat it right from the restaurant itself. “The items being sold are quite scarce and limited, so the idea is that people want to get their hands on such products.”
The public response to Barakah
After just launching seven months ago, Barakah has exceeded expectations. It now launched a new Riyadh branch only three weeks ago. Attracting more than 15,000 active community members, they’ve saved 16,000 meals and 95 partners participating in the cause.
Barakah hopes to grow even further, covering the entirety of the country and continuing to reduce commercial food waste until reaching zero food waste. At this point, they hope to expand to the rest of the Gulf region, further promoting and executing this cause using their business model, which Rabah believes will help them tackle food waste.
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