Dafero Employs Refugee populations to produce dates-based delicacies.Our signature product is date spread – a sugarfree, vegan, paleo, gluten and dairy free alternative to jam, toppings on pancakes, sweetener for smoothies or sugar and egg substitute in baking. Our company provides nutritious and delicious alternatives to sweets filled with sugar and preservatives, while employing the most vulnerable populations in our communities and connecting them to English language classes, skills training certifications and their local neighborhoods. – Lina Zdruli
Hello Lina Zdruli, we are excited to share your story with our readers. Please tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up choosing your field.
Lina Zdruli : My passion is using business for social good in fragile and conflict environments. I’ve spent the past five years working in different countries on entrepreneurship ecosystems (Palestine), training how to pitch and launch an organization (Sudan), researching the role of women in business (Pakistan, Oman, Jamaica) and helping connect rural populations to e-commerce and financial systems (Mexico, Guatemala) and worked on integrating refugees into their host countries through the provision of jobs and assistance to entrepreneurs (World Bank).
What made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?
Lina Zdruli : I’ve focused on the intersection of international development and business, so becoming an entrepreneur focused on employing vulnerable populations (refugees in the case of dafero) was more of a natural progress than a leap. I had a personal need – to make delicious but healthy desserts – and could not find it in the available market. I connected my prior knowledge in entrepreneurship and working with refugee populations, and that is how dafero was born!
What are 3 tips you can share with our readers?
- Your product has to be delicious. Out of 30 sales, only 1-3 customers would buy our product just because of the cause. The rest want to try it and then decide whether to get some.
- Everyone might buy something once for a good cause, but they won’t a second or third time unless you find a way to become a need for them, satisfying something that isn’t available already.
- You won’t be everything to everybody. Especially with food, tastes change wildly. Some think our date spread is too sweet, others think it’s not sweet enough. But out 1000 people passing through the last fair we showcased at, we sold out of all 130 of our jars, with the average customer buying 2 jars and bringing their friends. You have to know your market, and make those who loved you once keep on loving your product.
What do you do to recharge when you are feeling drained?
Lina Zdruli : I dance salsa and bachata! Dance is like meditation for me, it’s the one time I can be, without thoughts in my head on how I can improve the business or which conference to attend. I believe everyone has something outside of their companies that gives them joy and fulfillment, and while it’s of course not possible to always tend that passion (especially when starting+growing a startup!), it’s important to do things outside the company to recharge. I often get some of my most creative ideas the day after dancing, when I’ve detached from the business and managed to be in a different environment.