(“Our Earth, Our Soil”)
We had the pleasure to hear the inspiring story behind RDNA: a specialty grocery store and a community food initiative. An initiative that aims to link local producers who take responsibility for clean, and affordable food with consumers who take more responsibility for what they eat. The founders are passionate to re-connect the consumers with their land, to enable their decision making to healthier lifestyles – More informed consumers demanding healthy, clean and nutritious food is a crucial step to building sustainable and resilient food systems.
1. Tell us about your journey to embrace healthier /sustainable foods, lifestyles and living?
RDNA was founded in November 2019 when co-founders Soraya Abouleish, Mohamed Helmy and Mazen Helmy were inspired to bridge the gap between small-scale producers, farmers and the Cairo community. Fed up with living in a world that worships mass consumerism, overly processed food and instant gratification at the expense of food quality, they realized that most people had very little, if any, connection to their food. RDNA (say Ardena) means „our Earth or our Soil” in Arabic, and was born out of a desire to re-connect people with the land, with farmers and producers (our partners), and to encourage informed food choices based on transparency, diversity, and a willingness to improve. We say that RDNA is an open conversation meaning our intention is to maintain an open dialogue with our partners and consumers in which we can all learn and grow through incremental improvement.
Our main priority at RDNA is to become more and more transparent about the ingredients and the source of each product as well as supporting small-scale producers and farmers as much as we can. We hope that in doing this we can inspire others to become curious about their food and to encourage a global shift where we no longer rely solely on mass produced goods.
When RDNA first opened in the fall of 2019 it was located in a cozy little room in KMT House. The original store was intended to compliment the cafe and co-working space at KMT House by providing healthy, responsibly-sourced products to the guests. It wasn’t long before RDNA became well known among the Maadi community as the only place to find organic fresh milk, delicious organic vegetables, healthy snacks, artisanal products, wholesome pantry supplies and much more! When Covid-19 first hit Egypt in March 2020 and sent the country into semi-lockdown, RDNA was faced with a difficult dilemma: either to shut down or to expand.
The choice was simple and we took the plunge into the world of online shopping, e-commerce, and app development. Within just a few days RDNA was offering delivery across all of Cairo, had moved into a larger venue and a few weeks later it even had its own app!
We saw potential for growth and achieved big milestones relatively short period of time. The motivation behind this was not purely business but stemmed from the desire to help more people find well-sourced, real food products that they could trust.
RDNA continues to grow, not only as a shop but also as a concept by creating a standard by which consumers can gauge the quality of their products, by inspiring people to think about what they are buying, what they are consuming, and finally by setting the example that it is in fact possible to step away from main-stream, highly processed commercial food.
Today we have three stores and a factory located in Cairo. We have our customer app and a business app. Our operations are conducted through an ERP system that helps us manage inventory, payments, and all other backend operations.
2. What are your leading products and who are they targeted to?
Our leading products are our organic milk and meat products, they are delicious and nutritious, but also the only certified organic animal products in Egypt. Our fresh vegetables, a lot of which are organic as well, are also star products. RDNA also has a big section of natural cosmetics, which our customers love! Overall, the unique advantage with RDNA is the product mix, as we put a lot of effort into choosing only the best and cleanest products available in Egypt, mostly produced in Egypt but also some imported products, as well as our daily delivery all over Cairo through our Apps and website.
3.What do you see as your main challenges in growing your business and how will you overcome these?
The main challenges for us are consumer awareness, as unfortunately a lot of people do not understand the hazardous effect of conventionally produced so called “food products”. We put a lot of effort and resources into raising awareness and sharing knowledge and insights about the mainstream food market. Another challenge is the lack of clean products in Egypt, we are constantly searching for best alternatives that are healthier than the conventional ones, but the Egyptian food market is still not very strong in it.
4. How will you measure the success of your business?
The success of our business depends on sales, as well as the number of consumers participating in our activities. We host markets, excursions to farmers and producers, and other activities welcoming our consumers to take an active part in their food choices.
5. What is your vision for the next 5 years for your business?
Our vision in the next 5 years is to open three more branches in North, West and Central Cairo expanding our accessibility and convenience to our consumers. We also started multiple projects for supporting our small-scale producers and farmers such as a co-processing space, enabling small scale producers to produce licensed products according to local regulations.
6. What is the one thing you will want people to remember about your brand?
RDNA wants people to remember that they have the capacity to make choices for a healthier life; and to consider RDNA as the platform and space that supported them on their journey to improved health, livelihoods as well as to contributing to a healthier plant.
For more information please see : http://rdnastore.com
Each month we feature someone who is doing outstanding work to build a sustainable future in our region. Whether you are an entrepreneur creating new products or an activist promoting sustainability, or an individual who has gone through a life transforming journey, we will want to interview you, share your story more widely, with the hope of inspiring others. We will want to make you one of our Yalla Stars. If you have any great suggestions for a Yalla Star let us know .
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