Abdul Rahman Abid
We all take some aspects of our lives for granted, and grocery shopping can be one of them. Consider this scenario: what if you had to dash around several stores all over the city to find just the right type of bread, fruits or vegetables? Worse yet, what if the right type of food stuffs you were looking for were simply not available at any grocery store in the country? Sounds like a scary nightmare, right? Well, this was a regular occurrence for Muneera al-Kubaisi while she was on a weight-loss diet in 2014. “Whenever I was on a certain set of diet, I found myself going to three or four or five supermarkets to get all (items on) my shopping list. So, that was difficult,” says Muneera al-Kubaisi, founder of Good Life Market. That is how she came up with the idea of a startup, which she describes as a “one-stop-shop” for all things healthy and organic.
While Good Life obtained its Commercial Registration Number in 2016, the store opened its doors for the public in 2018, according to al-Kubaisi. One key proponent that encouraged al-Kubaisi to become an entrepreneur was social media. Around the time she was on the weight-loss diet, al-Kubaisi said that she had a huge following on Instagram because she shared her hobby of baking with her ‘thousands’ of followers. But when she started posting about her diet on her social media accounts, she soon found out that many of her local followers were facing similar struggles. “It was apparent that we were all doing the same thing, we were ordering (healthy food items) online, bringing stuff with us (from overseas trips), and I was like, ‘You know what? Someone might as well open one place that has everything.’”
While Good Life promises the convenience of having all diet-friendly materials under one roof, al-Kubaisi acknowledges that the store is “still not there, yet.” Still, for a business that is still in its first year, the consumer response has been amazing and supportive, according to her. “The reception has been really well,” she said.
Being the first-of-its-kind has got some drawbacks and advantages, however since Good Life is still in its infancy, the store is finding hard to satisfy all requests. “What people miss out in this situation is that it requires patience, for us to grow and to be able to cater to all what they want,” she added.
The second obstacle that al-Kubaisi said she faced while establishing her business was securing the finances. She said “For start-ups that have a niche audience, there are not many governmental or semi-governmental institutions that sponsor such projects.” As a result, al-Kubaisi said she had to look for alternative means of financing her business idea. “I had to rely on personal loans and help from friends and family in order to get the business started,” she said. She also pointed out that banks rejected her loan applications because her business did not have enough deposit money to secure a payback guarantee, “If I had that amount of money, why would go to the bank in the first place?” she adds, “Finances was a big obstacle, and it still is.”
Juggling between her day job as an auditor at the Qatar Credit Bureau, running her business and maintaining a social life has also been an ongoing struggle for al-Kubaisi. She said that throughout all this all she have had the support of her close friends and social media followers, whom she refers to as, ‘family.’
Speaking about the health and nutrition market in Qatar, al-Kubaisi said that she acknowledges that the products she offer in her store and the ones available elsewhere are expensive, “But, it’s not my product, it’s the health and nutrition industry, it is an expensive industry, considering that it’s a new one.” She added that the price of healthy food keeps people from buying them or switching to a healthy lifestyle. “At the same time, it is about priority. In our community, people have different priorities when it comes to like what’s expensive and what’s not, and it’s just about showing them a different narrative and showing people ‘Your health is just as expensive as the pair of shoes that you will be buying.’”
She said that people would appreciate healthier, albeit slightly more expensive, alternatives if they are made to appreciate their well-being. She noted that children in “our communities grow up seeing their parents or grandparents as diabetics or with high-blood pressure, and the children consider this to be normal…and it is not.”
The Good Life Market founder also commented on the increasing number of people participating in diets by saying that while it has become trendy for people to do so for the sake of likes and followers on social media, “it is not a trend I am mad at…if someone is working out because everyone else is working out, they might as well do it…This is probably the only situation where I don’t care if it’s trendy or not, if someone is working out or eating healthy, I am happy for them.”
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