- Life Style
“Offah” is the traditional Egyptian basket made out of palm leaves used to carry food gifts. It is also the name of a website — offah.com — launched last year during Ramadan. It is a new consumer-goods website that delivers fresh vegetables, fruit and homemade frozen meals.
“For a year, we have been lying low to perfect the door-to-door service and make sure we deliver perfect-quality products,” says Giancarolo Rispoli, the founder of Offah. The website’s main goal is to cater to busy women who juggle work and household responsibilities, prioritize healthy food and care about the quality of their consumer goods and the well-being of the environment.
“The idea came along when my partner, Omar Hegab, and I wanted to establish an e-commerce business that is service-oriented and targets women,” says Rispoli. The website includes rare vegetables that are hard to find in regular Egyptian markets, such as black and red tomatoes, bok choy and white cabbage.
The website operates only in English. Rispoli says the use of the English language was on purpose to constrain demand and give the growing business the time to perfect its service and the quality of its products.
“Fifteen days from now, the site will operate in both English and Arabic to broaden the range of our customers and be more quantifiable,” Rispoli says. “We deal only with reliable agribusinesses that monitor their use of pesticide, irrigation, water sources and drainage processes,” says Rispoli, who is half Italian.
Offah deals with large and medium agribusinesses that have niches in the market in a certain product. “Our principle is simple and efficient: from Egypt to Egypt,” he says.
He says it’s the combination of innovation, technology and imagination that makes the company’s products unique and accessible. But Offah steers away from calling its products organic. “We do not use the appellation ‘organic’ due to the use of pesticides in Egyptian farms and the old irrigation systems, but we aim to have pesticide-free products,” Rispoli says.
Rispoli says Offah uses the products with the longest elapsed time between pesticide application and cropping, which guarantees the natural quality of the product and makes it pesticide-free.
Offah also seeks to carry its social responsibility toward the small farmers of Egypt.
“We are very aware of our social responsibility as a growing business and envision our project as a provider of superior quality products and an alleviator of poverty among small Egyptian farmers as long as they abide to our quality guidelines,” Rispoli says.
The aim of the e-business, he adds, is to provide a pesticide-free product that respects the environment.
The website is attractive, and the layout is clear and user-friendly. Orders are delivered within 24 hours, either between 2 pm and 6 pm or 6 pm and 9 pm, according to the customer’s preference.
Aside from being a provider of certified natural fruits and vegetables, Offah also offers a catering service that provides homemade Oriental foods such as kobeba, hawawshi, sambousak, quail and vine leaves. The company also offers an array of recipes for international and Oriental cuisine.