Kibsons co-founder: 'I only buy what I need when I grocery shop'

Halima Jumani set up the home delivery division of Kibsons after recognising the demand for fresh food at affordable prices in the UAE

Dubai, U.A.E., August 26 , 2018. Halima Jumani, director of finance and operations at food home delivery service Kibsons.  
Victor Besa/The National
Section:  Business
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Halima Jumani is director of operations at Kibsons International, the online fresh food and home delivery retailer she co-owns with husband Jamal Hussain, its managing director. Born and raised in Dubai before studying at London Business School, Ms Jumani, 39, became a project analyst in the UK with Barclays Global Investors before joining GE in Dubai. Of Indian/Pakistani descent, she lives with her husband, their 10-year-old daughter and sons, 17 and 18, in The Villa, Dubailand.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

My father worked at Mashreq Bank and my mother was a dedicated housewife. We lived in a small apartment in Murshid Bazaar, Deira. The hard-work ethic was introduced at a very early age. I was taught to value money, not for money’s sake, but for the good it can bring to family and others. My parents came to this country to give the family a better future. Dubai has always been a place of opportunity, where you can make dreams come true. My parents raised me to appreciate education and to become independent. They appreciated the value of money and that it had to be earned. Therefore, money I was given was a reward – maybe in the form of a piece of jewellery from the Gold Souk for academic achievement.

How much were you paid in your first job?

At 17, while studying A-levels, I worked part-time as a sales representative on commission-based remuneration, selling timeshare properties, to support my education cost. My first full-time job was as an audit trainee with [Dubai accountants] Spicer and Pegler. I was 18 and my salary was Dh1,500.

Are you a saver or a spender?

Generally speaking, I am quite generous with spending – provided it is done for the right reasons.

What are you happiest spending your money on?

I’ve no problem with spending on life experiences – sports, travelling, books or education. I’m not a great spender on luxury designer labels for the sake of it. If the item is to celebrate something, and will generate family memories, it’s worthwhile – otherwise the pleasure is short-lived. On a corporate level, when upgrading technology, rewarding the team or customer service… this is money well spent.


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Where do you save?

At present we are re-investing our profits/savings into the business to support our expansion projects. We also invest in long-term equities, for our children’s education.

How have you helped to influence Kibsons International?
I joined Kibsons in 2007. It was already a well-established company with an international reputation that was founded by Hussain Ismail Khatri in 1982. His vision of importing fresh food wholesale, and using Dubai as a hub for distribution, had proved a successful business model. As with all companies, it's necessary to ensure the model moves with the times; that's where I came in. I started Kibsons Home Deliveries in February 2016, when I recognised there was demand for fresh, nutritious food at affordable prices in the UAE. We are distributing goods direct to the consumer as soon as they arrive in warehouses – no "middleman", therefore no delay in storage. Everyone in Dubai is busy, so we're cutting out a major demand on time, helping relieve daily stress and doing it on a platform everyone is familiar with: the internet.

Does this make you a shrewd grocery shopper?

I have a simple approach: I always buy what I need and don’t go shopping for the sake of it. My fresh grocery purchases are carefully based on my weekly meal plan. For non-perishables, I buy in bulk on deal days at supermarkets. I don’t mind using private labels [own brands] for certain selected items where I know the quality can be trusted.

What is your philosophy towards money?

Money is necessary for life, but should not be seen as a measurement of success. That leads to amassing money for the sake of money, rather than what it can do and how you can change things with it.

What is your best investment?

Definitely education – I’m passionate about acquiring new skills. We should all keep learning, all our lives. Education is not limited merely to academic learning at a good primary/secondary school. It encompasses many and varied extra-curricular activities such as learning languages, performing arts, sports, fitness, visual arts, travel, books, deep-sea diving, working at events, community service. Even paying for a good life coach or mentor – anything that enhances one’s personality and character is part of learning and education for me.

Dubai, U.A.E., August 26 , 2018. Halima Jumani, director of finance and operations at food home delivery service Kibsons.  
Victor Besa/The National
Section:  Business
Ms Jumani says her most cherished purchases include her hobbies, sport, nutrition and holidays. Victor Besa / The National

Do you have any financial regrets?

I don’t specifically remember anything I regret spending money on. Perhaps it’s because I don’t dwell on ‘sunk costs’. I prefer to clear the mind, say “that’s history” and move on.

What is your most cherished purchase?

Holidays, hobbies, sports, nutrition all feature as cherished purchases for differing reasons. Anything I have spent money on to improve my, or my family’s, life skills. Travelling broadens the mind and creates lasting memories; hobbies because they help us to de-stress and express who we are; sports teach us discipline, perseverance and independence; and nutrition is important because we can only make the best of opportunities if we are fit and healthy, physically and mentally.

What is your current luxury?

My aim is to qualify as a scuba diver, so I can dive with my husband and children – this fits well with my love of travel. I enjoy learning about a country’s history and experiencing a new culture first-hand. This expands our minds and helps us understand humanity.

Do you prefer paying in cash or by credit card?

I pay using either. With credit cards, they are good for the points and I settle the account in full at the end of the month.

Are you wise with money?

I always consider whether any spending will result in a tangible reward for lifestyle experience and development. I’m especially committed to investment in technology, which is the bedrock of Kibsons.

Do you plan for the future?

Where my children are concerned, I consider the effect of any decision on their long-term prospects. So taking a route through education is important, always supported by the latest technology, which is an indispensable tool for the future. From a business perspective, long-term planning is important. I address one challenge at a time and plan and strategise accordingly.

What would you raid your savings for?

I will always consider dipping into savings to make moments happen, to create memories of family and friends; to enhance the quality of family life. It goes without saying that any family emergency would be met with whatever it takes.

If you won Dh1 million, what would you spend it on?

I would love to invest in an institution to add value to people’s lives – maybe a sports facility in Dubai, which would be run as a business, offering opportunity, creating jobs and enhancing life experiences. This is motivating for me – the holistic approach, a project that would benefit all stakeholders.