Getting the full flavour of international business

Peter B. Gustavson School of Business

- Sasha Milam

Farboud. Credit: Supplied.

Limes, avocados and chilies, with a bit of squash and broccoli thrown in for good measure: Avasta Farboud’s days read like an adventurous vegetarian cookbook. At least until you get to his other interest, which is accounting.

The young entrepreneur, who graduates during November convocation with a BCom degree from UVic’s Gustavson School of Business, has kept his sights set on both accounting and international business during his time at the school. He expanded his produce import company during one entrepreneurial co-op work term, and completed an accounting co-op at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) the next. While he admits that it was hard working long hours at the PwC co-op while continuing the export business in the evenings, he seems to have executed both with aplomb: he has an ongoing role lined up at PwC starting in January, and his import business supplies about 10 per cent of the avocados consumed in Vancouver.

Head shot of Farboud
Farboud. Credit: Supplied.

He won’t forget the lesson, however: he is busy hiring a team of people to keep the export company in motion while he takes on the PwC role and returns to school in 2020 for his Masters in Professional Accounting at the University of Saskatchewan.

Although he is prioritizing his accounting career for now, Farboud’s interest in international study and travel runs deep.

Choosing Gustavson

“I chose Gustavson in large part because of the international focus,” says Farboud. “Having grown up in London and Beijing before my family moved to Shawnigan Lake, the school’s emphasis on understanding business in other cultures seemed like it aligned well with my own values.”

Farboud took full advantage of Gustavson’s exchange opportunities, spending one semester in his childhood home of Beijing, and another in an intensive Chinese language program in Taiwan. Despite not specializing in international business while at Gustavson (he had discovered accounting, and chose to focus his academics in that field instead), he has been embedded in the world of international business nonetheless.

I started my import business, GC Importers, about three years ago. Exchange immersed me in how other cultures do business, so it’s been neat to apply those lessons to my own business. We currently focus on limes and avocados—a key market for us is Vancouver sushi restaurants, and we supply about 10 per cent of overall avocado imports to the city. And we’re just piloting a farm in Mexico for squashes and broccoli.
Gustavson School of Business graduate Avasta Farboud

Sustainability and business

While acknowledging the inherent challenges to a sustainable import business, Farboud is always on the lookout for ways to mitigate the social and environmental effects of his company. This includes exploring outside-the-box ways to compensate labourers fairly and educating consumers on the merits of “ugly” fruit, which are often rejected based on unconventional appearance.

“I cannot describe how much waste we see, because of fruit that is ugly,” says Farboud. “How it looks isn’t reflective of the actual quality of the fruit, so it’s really a shame.”

It’s not the first time Farboud has dealt in produce. During his high school years, his family started their Fat Chili Farm business in Shawnigan Lake, growing artisanal chilies of all varieties and selling them locally. Farboud cut his teeth on marketing the chilies, and has recently stepped up to the plate again to help get the latest family venture off the ground.

Farboud poses abroad.
Farboud. Credit: Supplied.

“It’s a freeze-dried food line, designed for hikers or disaster relief or whenever someone might need a dehydrated meal,” says Farboud. “I was coordinating the marketing—website, labelling, packaging sourcing and so on—and now I’m selling to corporate clients. So I’m still volunteering for the family hustle, West Coast Kitchen, and I’m really excited to see where that goes.”

It almost goes without saying that chilies and avocados play an important role in the new product’s ingredient lineup.


In this story

Keywords: convocation, gustavson, entrepreneurship, convocation, graduation, student life, alumni, community

People: Avasta Farboud

Publication: The Ring

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