Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in sustainability but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Dorra Jlouli, Founder of Pascalyna / Green and Smart Alternatives, located in Ottawa, ON, Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
With our business, we contribute to tackling environmental and social challenges. We focus on consumer wellness by offering healthy products. We provide green and smart solutions to contribute to a greener planet for all and have a positive impact on people and the planet. We are committed to providing only healthy products at affordable prices. This is our way of making healthy products accessible to everyone. We innovate in our business model to adapt our value chain in order to make our product accessible to a wide market.
What are our values :
• We do well by doing good.
• We run our business, taking into consideration social and environmental challenges.
• Community engagement.
• We consider our customer as a partner.
• We have been embedding social mission at an early stage.
• We organize eco-engagement competitions.
• We contribute to a world for all by integrating people with disability to work within our value chain.
• We are committed to providing the only health product.
• We innovate in our business model to adapt our value chain in order to make our product accessible to a wide market.
Tell us about yourself
Being a mother at a young age, I was frustrated with not being able to give my baby fresh fruit juice when I left him at the child-care center to go to work. At that time, there was no technology allowing to keep the freshness of a smoothie or homemade fruit juice. I tried all types of thermos bottles, but unfortunately, no solution was found: within less than 20 minutes, the juice started to ferment!
A few years later, my friend told me about a new technology using only a high-pressure process: a green technology allowing to keep the freshness and all the natural value of the natural ingredients, the fruit taste, and much more. Excited by this information, I said, “if I were not able to give my children their favorite snack, I would be happy to let thousands of mothers all over the world be able to do so! And then was the decision to go through the research and development project and then the entrepreneurial journey. I started with the first product, which was the cold pressed and cold pasteurized fruit juice.
A few years later, I noticed the urgency of action to reduce plastic single-use while keeping the same mission of providing healthy habits. Since that, I have been focusing on finding a sustainable solution, and from where I founded my second business, Green & Smart alternatives, where The popsy’fruit product received the innovation award from the Canadian National Conference on Innovation. It’s a reusable container in silicon material FDA-approved to make homemade iced juice for kids and adults.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Being a business owner allows me to turn ideas into action and think outside the common box to find the solution we need to deal with daily issues. My best accomplishment is when I see a smile on the face of my customer and stakeholders. That said, I’m inspired by the mission and not the fact of being the owner. Almost all my products bring a solution to the table to resolve environmental or healthy issues. I can give the example of my newest product, “Green Ride & Skate, which is a smart solution to reduce single plastic use while giving the cyclist the opportunity to make their own endurance gel; it’s healthy, economical, and eco-friendly. Same with the hand sanitizer that is, let’s say, the product with which I have the most affection as it means a lot to me the context in which it was made just by a commitment to bring the solution to help the community during the first weeks of the COVID pandemic where it was hard to find any product for our safety that said, it’s all about the small things we do as an entrepreneur that can change the daily life of our community.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The dilemma in decision making, especially when it comes to dealing at the same time with financial issues and your social and environmental commitments. I can give here the example of integrating a social component into my business chain. When I was participating at the first summit of DESTINATIONS FOR ALL in October 2014 as a president of an international NGO in Montreal, where the mission was to make the world accessible for everyone, I met with great people and was extremely touched by the fact that a huge number of people around the world have at least one kind of physical or mental disability. At that time, I was working on my first business plan after the incorporation of my company. Thus, I was challenged to bring down a business model integrating the social component and decided to partner with a local Adapted Enterprise (a social business employing people with functional limitations), so they stuck the label of my juice bottles. That decision had a financial impact as I had to adapt my logistics chain to make it happen. But the decision was taken with no hesitation as the social component is part of my business philosophy: doing well by doing good. Integrating this social component is not only exciting for me but gives me satisfaction and courage to go ahead and encourage other companies to do the same.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Build your company on love and caring rather than stress and fear.
- Be surrounded by positive mind people. Don’t be disappointed by people you thought were going to be the first to encourage you; work hard to succeed, and then they will come to support you.
- Let your product or service be the mirror of what you want to be.
- The solution is closer than we think; we just need to go outside the common framework to find it.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Here is my Bio: Dorra Jlouli, Eng. Agr., MBA.
Dorra Jlouli has over twenty-five years of experience in strategic planning and corporate social responsibility. She graduated from ESG UQAM-Montreal (Canada) with an Executive MBA. She also has an agricultural engineering degree from INAT-Tunis (Tunisia). She works as a senior international consultant, having offered her services on four continents. Passionate about turning ideas into action, especially those related to sustainable development, Dorra Jlouli founded Pascalyna Inc., the first realization of her business dream. It was also a pioneer in the use of the latest environmentally friendly technology to preserve the nutritional qualities of food.
Concerned about the environmental issues related to single-use plastic, Dorra Jlouli then founded Green & Smart Alternatives, recognized as the innovative company of the year 2018. Her leadership has also earned her several awards of excellence, including the award for Socially Responsible Leadership and Innovation, awarded by The Canadian National Conference on Innovation, as well as successive nominations, notably for the Canadian Woman of Influence Award.
Her passion for education, as well as her green and socio-responsible convictions, are transmitted in her teaching at the University of Ottawa, where she is a part-time professor at the Telfer School of Management. Dorra Jlouli mainly teaches Leadership, Strategy & Sustainability as well as Corporate Governance and Ethics.
Her dedication, commitment, and drive for her student’s success did not go unnoticed by his colleagues and students. Indeed, she received the Excellence in Teaching Award from the Telfer School of Management in 2021. Her eco-responsible commitment and conviction that community engagement and learning by doing make the difference in terms of training efficiency leads her to the Community Engagement Award, an award of excellence for the category of professor for community engagement for the 2021-2022 academic year from the University of Ottawa.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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