Saskatchewan pulse crop entrepreneur gains international acclaim

Posted on June 19, 2017 in

Saskatchewan pulse crop entrepreneur gains international acclaim
Murad Al-Katib, president and CEO of AGT Food and Ingredients.

When Saskatchewan businessman Murad Al-Katib was named EY World Entrepreneur of the Year 2017, he was more surprised than anyone.

“I had full expectation that Bill Marriott Jr. was a very deserving winner. He spent 60 years building the Marriott hotel chain into one of the largest hotel chains in the world!” Al-Katib said.

But it was Al-Katib’s name called as the top winner at the gala in Monte Carlo, Monaco, beating out 58 other candidates from 49 countries around the world. And perhaps fitting for the province, Al-Katib’s victory comes at the head of an agricultural company — AGT Food and Ingredients Inc., a nationwide and worldwide leader in the production and distribution of pulse crops.

“I felt the pride I believe an Olympian would feel when they win at the Olympics,” Al-Katib said. “To be there representing your country and your community and winning among the world’s best — that feeling of pride, what a rush.”

It’s the culmination of a long journey for Al-Katib and his company. Before reaching the world stage, Al-Katib won the title of Canada’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2016 back in November as a representative of the Prairies region of the country.

And even after reaching the final stage of the worldwide competition in Monaco, there was no guarantee of who was going to win — every candidate was required to present a two-minute “elevator pitch”, as Al-Katib called it, followed by 18 minutes of question and answer from a panel of judges.

It was a lot of countries united for the common purpose of “entrepreneurial excellence, and entrepreneurs changing society,” Al Katib said, adding that he felt humbled to be among such great entrepreneurs.

“I use the word ‘humble’ all the time because you’re selected by a panel of distinguished judges and peers,” he said. “It’s a humbling experience, but one that excites me because I get to tell Saskatchewan stories.”

Growing up in Davidson, after his parents immigrated from Turkey in the 1960s and watching them become strong leaders in the community, Al-Katib said he feels “blessed” to be from Saskatchewan and Canada.

“I felt proud that Canada was viewed as a multicultural nation of inclusion,” Al-Katib said. “I gotta tell you, the look of envy on the faces of some of the most successful people I’ve met in the world, when they hear you’re from Canada — that was the ultimate beauty of the whole week for me.”

More recognition is on the way for Al-Katib and AGT Food and Ingredients — they are set to be the focus of the North Saskatoon Business Association’s third annual Popcorn and Entrepreneurship Series mini-documentary.

Titled Changing the Pulse of the Province, the short documentary will be about Al-Katib starting his pulse crop distribution company from the ground up.

Al-Katib acknowledged that Saskatchewan might not be a well-known name on the international stage, but he hopes with his successes and new connections made at the entrepreneur of the year competition, that will start to change.

“They don’t quite know where Saskatchewan is — but you know what? They sure did after this competition,” he said.

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