What kind of work do you do/business do you run?
I work for Big Idea Ventures, a hybrid venture firm: Our first fund is the New Protein Fund, which is raising up to USD$50MM to invest in the alternative protein ecosystem. We combine capital and partnership to support and grow the world’s most compelling entrepreneurs globally. We have made over 25 investments, with a portfolio that spans the globe in major regions such as Asia, Europe, and North America.
My role as Program Director is to design and structure the accelerator program we run biannually and provide technical due diligence for prospective companies and product development consultations for our current portfolio.
What do you love about it?
All of our investments are impactful and mission driven to enhance food security and sustainable food practices. With my role I can combine my technical expertise as well as business, event management and investment skills.
What’s your ‘why’ in life? What drives you?
My family and country drive me. My family who have relentlessly supported me to pursue my dreams, despite breaking cultural and societal norms. I am lucky to be a citizen of the State of Kuwait, that provided all the framework and opportunities for their citizens to succeed in life. Especially during these current times, Governmental social and economic safety nets are very important and must never be dismantled or taken for granted.
Why are you a member of the Vegan Women’s Leadership Network?
To engage with the wider community on promoting women as leaders in shaping the F&B Industry. I want to encourage women to pursue careers in STEM with dynamism, and show that it is possible to leverage and expand into Financial or Marketing opportunities.
What’s been the biggest highlight or ‘wow’ moment of your career/business/professional life?
My ability to successfully transition into different fields. I started my career in life sciences, diagnostics and research. Eight years ago I made my first transition to food sciences specialising in functional food research. Then three years back I made the jump into commercialisation and investments. All of these transitions were challenging at first, but with time, hard work, appreciation and dedication I have managed to pull it off!
How do you handle failures, fear and disappointment?
I have always told myself that it is better to let go, learn from your failures and move on. If you have put in the utmost effort to make things happen, and yet they still do not pan out. You should rest assured that it was not the right time, pivot and move on. Remembering that tomorrow is another day and another opportunity.
What would you tell your 16-year-old self?
Be patient, confidence and respect come with time and hard work. It is ok to be unsure about what you want to do/be in life, and you can transform with each decade.
Which women inspire you and why?
I am especially proud of women from my region. Despite all the obstacles they have faced, Peninsular Arab women have made an impact inspiring future generations. They have demonstrated that we as women can contribute to society through economic, political and social reform.
In Kuwait we have experienced the most rapid transformation as a result of strategic Government Policies in the 1950s.
To give you some context, my Grandmothers were illiterate, my Mother Eng. Suad Al-Bahar is the first graduate from the School of Engineering in Kuwait, she is an internationally recognised civil engineer and concrete specialist.
Notably my Maternal Aunts include Shaikha Al-Bahar, Deputy Group CEO of the largest bank in Kuwait and Forbes: Top 100 Most Powerful Arab Businesswomen 2017.
Sabah Al-Bahar, Deputy Minister for the Applied Education and Training Public Authority and Nabeela Al-Bahar, Legal Prosecutor for the Ministry of Interior.
They are my role models, that I looked up to growing up, shaping our values and perceptions of what an Arab woman could be.
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve faced and how has it helped mould who you are now?
As women we are plagued with self-doubt and always trying to be perfect. I would say that perfectionism has pushed me to seek the best opportunities and prove to myself as well as others that I am fully capable.
What’s your super-power? What are you amazing at?
I would say that I am skilled at simplifying complex scientific concepts.
What brings you joy?
Altruism. I am most happy when my work/efforts contributed to the success of others. Being able to assist global startups and entrepreneurs especially from regions that lack the infrastructural support, is extremely fulfilling and I am lucky to work in a sector which is aligned on this mission.
How do you define success, and how will you know when you’ve achieved it?
Success is in the eye of the beholder. I am sure many Doctorate holders will agree, that even though we succeed on what we know and do, there remains so much more that we do not know and cannot do. My thirst and drive to succeed, is not for success but to constantly learn, then be able to apply the knowledge and make an impact.
What’s your vision for yourself and your business/career for the future?
As the world is moving towards, inclusion. I take it as my responsibility to guide entrepreneurs to align inclusion as part of their company culture. This will be achieved through influence and the initiatives I support. If I can play a part leading to an inclusive future I will be satisfied.
Dr. Dalal AlGhawas is the Program Director at Big Idea Ventures. She helps to combine capital and partnership to grow the world’s most compelling alternative protein companies. Dalal established the first food technology accelerator program in Hong Kong and has worked with over 25 global technology startups.