Using Canadian AG background to foster international trade – Nicole Rogers on staring her own business in the UAE

Nicole Rogers story begins the way many of ours do. Raised on a farm in Ayr, Ontario, her family was very involved in the agriculture industry, as generations of their family had been before them. Nicole’s career path, however, would take her far afield from Southwestern Ontario before connecting back to her agriculture roots.

0f7a4867-exposureWhen Nicole first began her career she wasn’t interested in working in agriculture. She sought different experiences through internships and travelling to Latin America.  When her husband was interested in moving to the United Arab Emirates, Nicole decided to use her history in agriculture to help forge her next step.

In Dubai, Nicole began working for the Canadian Embassy and became Canada’s Trade Commissioner for Agriculture in the United Arab Emirates. While she was serving in that role she heard a similar dilemma again and again: food processors wanted consistent and specific commodities from Canadian farmers.

There are many large flour mills in the Arabian Gulf and they were looking for regular supplies of uniform quality grain. Disconnected from the mills by distance and the usual trade process, she knew that Canadian farmers could meet these needs. Nicole saw a gap and decided to fill it.

In 2013, Nicole established Agriprocity. As the name suggests, she wanted to foster reciprocal relationships between Canadian farmers and international food processors.  She planned to use her network in both regions to benefit her customers.

Nicole visited the prairies to do research with Canadian farmers, and used her maternity leave to develop the business model through a very academic model, she said. Nicole and her team asked farmers to pitch for a pilot project. They selected a farm in Manitoba, and the farmer grew the varieties the UAE mill was looking for. The success of that pilot grew into the model Agricpocity operates today: creating contracts between farmers and mills globally for their mutual benefit.

So what’s it like to be a Canadian female entrepreneur in the UAE? Nicole says in her experience it affords a lot of opportunity. “There is a lot of respect, and no one wastes your time,” Nicole says. She says sees more evidence of the “old boys club” in Canada than in Dubai.

Nicole loves living in Dubai. “It feels like New York with Arabian influence,” she says.  She doesn’t need to miss any Canadian standbys either: the city has Tim Hortons.

Nicole says she has integrated her work and life to compliment each other. Her son, who was born in Dubai, travels with her when her work requires a plane ride. She also loves that he is growing up with unique experiences, and says at the school he attends nearly every student is a different nationality.

Asked for her advice for women starting their careers in agriculture, Nicole says “Use your agricultural background to travel and apply to international jobs. Don’t just look for opportunities in your own backyard.”

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