Misha Patel and Anusha Mahtani - MSc Management 2016

Zola Foods is a sustainable health food brand and social enterprise that aims to mobilize the trade of nutrient dense superfoods from Africa to the Middle Imperial College Business School Imperial means Intelligent Business 2 East. We commercialise innovative indigenous species such as Baobab, Moringa and Hibiscus and market them in mainstream food, drink and cosmetic industries. We have developed a competitive advantage by building our own ethical supply chain that supports female farmers, preserves biodiversity and has a low carbon footprint.

Business sector: Agriculture, Health & Wellness
Business telephone: +971 56 556 5261
Location: UAE/ Zimbabwe
Business mobile: +971 56 556 5261
Business email: info@zola-foods.com
Business website: https://www.zola-foods.com/
Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/zolafoods

What gave you the idea for your business?

Anusha and Misha have always had a passion in interest in healthy eating, however while studying in London, we realised how expensive and time consuming it was to maintain a a healthy diet. Misha came across the miracle superfoods baobab and moringa when she moved back home to Kenya. These products are nutrient dense and have numerous health benefits. Upon connecting with Anusha we realized there was a huge market opportunity in bringing African superfoods to the Middle East. The demand for healthy foods globally is on the rise, in the UAE 87% of people use foods to forestall health issues.Inspired by the impact our business has on employment in African communities, the environment and the health of our global customers, our vision is to build a fair trade ethical supply chain of African superfoods.

How did it feel when your business launched?

We are passionate about building Zola Foods to generate profit with a purpose. We founded Zola Foods in 2018 and are committed to supporting a sustainable food supply chain. We believe that every entrepreneur has an environmental and social responsibility as they become prosperous. After launching Zola Foods we felt that we were contributing positively to the livelihoods of African communities and empowering individuals with additional sources of revenue.

What was the greatest challenge you faced in starting out?

Receiving licencing on exporting products out of Zimbabwe has been particularly challenging due to political and economic instability. Despite several hurdles we have persevered and become pioneers in exporting Hibiscus, Moringa and Baobab from Zimbabwe to the Middle East.

What have been the key lessons learned from the whole process?

The key lesson for us have been to always have courage to persevere and innovatively problem solve - there is always a solution to every hurdle.

What has been the highlight so far?

Building a supply chain and mobilizing fair trade to launch and sell our first 3 products online in the UAE.

Any advice to budding entrepreneurs?

We believe that budding entrepreneurs should be confident in their decisions and abilities and be willing to come out of their comfort zone to seek new opportunities. We also believe its important to find a co-founder with complementary skills, a shared vision and dedication to building your brand and product .

How did your time at the Business School prepare you for setting up your own business?

Firstly, we met and got the opportunity to work with each other! Secondly, presenting our coursework, working on real consulting cases and the entrepreneurship module gave us the practical experience to think outside the box, think on our feet and take multiple angles to problem solving.

Where do you see yourself and the business in 5 years’ time?

We envision a world where everyone can easily incorporate healthy foods into their diets by selling our products worldwide. We aim to grow our product range to sell raw products, granola’s, museli’s, tea’s and also enter the cosmetic and beauty range