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My business is called Winarose. We trade fresh produce from Morocco, selling and marketing products from a number of leading fresh produce suppliers. Since we help brands to establish themselves in the UK, we’re now seen as an agent for several Moroccan suppliers.
The business is in its second year. We’ve already established a number of important relationships, and we’ve seen a significant increase in import quantities when compared with the first year. The third year is on the way too, so we’re looking forward to more contracts and a predicted increase in imports.
As an international student, I wasn’t allowed to open a business here in the UK. It seemed challenging to work on an international scale too. The visa has opened so many doors for me and allowed me to expand internationally.
I’m one month away from finishing my final year.
Well, everything was just an idea before I started. I’ve learned everything about Winarose and the UK fresh produce industry while on the Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme.
If I narrow it down to the most important things, I’d say that I’ve learned how to be a good salesperson, and how to approach clients and convince them to work with me. I’ve also learned how to make sure everything goes well on an operational level – I never leave anything to chance.
In general, the scheme has taught me how to be disciplined in work and life, but also how to make the most out of being self-employed.
It was very important for me to be based in the UK, because that’s what made me special for suppliers and clients. My clients liked the fact I was close by and able to solve problems quickly; there was much better access and communication.
Being based in the UK also gave clients the confidence to work and deal with my company. It meant we could have face-to-face meetings, which is relatively rare – the majority of suppliers don’t have their people in the UK.
Once the scheme is over, I plan on applying for a Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. The visa process is usually quite complicated, but my application should be easier because I’m a graduate entrepreneur from Oxford Brookes.
I’m planning on diversifying my business and trading other products and commodities internationally as well. I’ve been working on this business for two years now in the UK, and I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many interesting people in London that I feel ready to take the next step. I want to explore Asian, African and European markets for different food products, particularly fish and aquaculture.
I’d like to take the opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to Oxford Brookes University for making my professional life so much easier. I really appreciate being given this opportunity, and appreciate all the trust and support they’ve provided over the last two years. I would especially like to thank Tim Foster and Jeff Welmore, who believed in my business idea and supported and encouraged me the whole time.
Even though I’ve left Brookes, Brookes has always been a part of me and will stay a part of me for good.