Murad Al-Katib is the second person from Canada to win the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year award in the last 10 years. He won the title for his attempt at providing safe, sustainable protein to everyone at affordable price by building an empire of lentils and other pulse crops.
The president and CEO of AGT Food and Ingredients, founded the company in 2003. Though it is now one of the largest suppliers of pulses in the world, both Murad and his company have had a humble beginning.
When Murad realised there was a dire need for producing high-quality protein for world’s ever expanding hungry population, he started pursuing farmers individually to ask them to grow more lentils, beans and other pulse crops.
Lentil, one of the world’s oldest crop, is not only a protein-rich crop but it also nourishes the soil as it grows and consumes very less water. Now, Canada produces 65 percent of the world’s lentils, owing largely to Murad’s efforts. According to The Financial Times, Jim Nixon, Chief Executive of Nixon Energy Investments and member of the judging panel said,
“Murad is an incredible entrepreneur who has demonstrated outstanding value creation, organisational reach and expansion. Through sustainable agricultural practices, he is making a positive impact on the global environment.”
An empire of pulses
Despite the fact that AGT went public only in the year 2007, it is now supplying pulse crops like lentils and peas to more than 120 countries. With the company's products accounting for more than 20 percent of the world trade in lentils, Murad has made 17 acquisitions in 15 years and employs 2,000 people from all over the world.
Currently running 46 manufacturing facilities, revenues of the company have been increasing at an average of more than $100 million in a year, and made $1.4 billion in the last year. Murab, who quit his job as a civil servant to start his venture, told the Financial Post,
“I don’t believe there is something called social entrepreneurship. There is only entrepreneurship. Corporate social purpose is what we as entrepreneurs must deliver in order to create the proper world for our children and grandchildren. Let’s make it our purpose to help change the world, to change one life at a time."
Standing true to his word, he has also donated around 700 million meals through UN World Food Programme for the hungry Syrian refugees.
What makes Murad stand out is that he is not just concerned with making sustainable protein a reality for all, but is also actively involved in protecting the environment in the process. He refrained from providing protein in the form of meat as it would consume a lot of water.
With continuous efforts, he has now built an empire of world's largest vertically integrated supply chain for lentils, chickpeas and peas, with a company that is constantly expanding through a combination of organic growth and strategic acquisitions.