The SME Story: Riwa Khan, founder of Majama
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The SME Story: Riwa Khan, founder of Majama

The SME Story: Riwa Khan, founder of Majama

Dubai-based Majama produces vegan and gluten-free desserts with ambitious plans to expand further into the GCC markets

Riwa Khan_Majama

What prompted you to start Majama?
Majama started from a simple belief that food can be both natural and delicious, without compromising on taste and texture. This belief is what drives us to create desserts that start off as alternatives to regular ones, but become equally, if not more, satisfying. I started Majama shortly after graduating from the University in London, where I struggled with constant digestive problems that were worsening with my regular consumption of gluten, refined sugar and dairy. I cut those ingredients out of my diet, but I still craved desserts, so I started making my own.

What is the current scale of your business?
Majama currently sells direct-to-consumer via our website and also through Deliveroo. We started with only five items on our menu from a shared kitchen in 2018, and we now have over 25 menu options across three product lines (ice creams, treats, and cakes) and 10 employees who work from our own production facility in JLT. This summer, we are taking our best-selling products – ice creams, banana bread, and cookies – to retail shelves across the UAE. We are self funded and lucky to have been cash flow positive from the early days.

Your company was initially called Honeymelts. Why did you rebrand it to Majama?
We wanted to break free from the “small bakery” association people had with Honeymelts. In light of our expansion into retail, we wanted our new brand to be a creative expression of our future ambitions and goals. The bright, colourful and illustrative nature of Majama is one we feel our customers can engage and connect with on a deeper level. It’s a far more accurate representation of our brand personality and the values we’ve developed over the

What are some of the immediate concerns you have for Majama?
The natural/healthy food industry is a competitive one, even in the desserts category. There are a lot of global competitors who see the GCC, and specifically the UAE, as a lucrative market. In this context, it’s not easy to stand out. Our ingredient and product quality is what makes people loyal customers, but before that they need to try us out. They’ll only do that if Majama is something that resonates with them, so that’s where our efforts are focused on.

What lesson about entrepreneurship have you learnt the hard way?
Everything comes down to you and what you could have done differently, whether it was to prevent something or improve it. There are many moments when you’ve made a mistake and there’s no one else to look to but yourself. It has taught me accountability and responsibility, and how to really back myself, learn and get better. I have also learnt to never rush. Whilst we’re all eager for success, it’s never a good idea to make decisions in haste.

What are the expansion plans you have in place for the brand?
We aim to continue to innovate on the product front by adding more ice cream SKUs and launching new product lines. We then want to ensure these are widely accessible and available, first in the UAE and then across the GCC region. We eventually see ourselves competing in key natural food markets globally such as the UK, US, Germany, Netherlands, India and Australia. Ultimately, we want to be seen as the go-to brand for delicious desserts that just
happen to be vegan and gluten-free.

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