Startup of the Week: A modern twist to an old tradition

Updated 27 August 2019
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Startup of the Week: A modern twist to an old tradition

  • In May 2017 Basudan started his project by offering baobab and doum cubes and powder, and other related products through his online store at www.habhaboh.com

JEDDAH: A Saudi business specializing in creating products from an African fruit has given a modern twist to an old tradition. Childhood memories inspired Mohammad Basudan to set up his Jeddah-based store, Habhaboh, which utilizes the fruits of baobab trees.
He said the fruit was popular among Saudis between the 1970s and the start of the millennium. “During my time at school, I used to be thrilled at the end of the day when I could go to the old African lady (commonly called Hajja) at the end of the street who sat on the floor with her eye-catching products including the raw baobab fruit and its products.
“The extensive benefits of baobab and doum fruits are not well-known, and I had the idea of reshaping and rebranding the old Hajja stuff that my generation used to consume into creative and modern products attractive to all ages and making these hard-to-eat fruits into easy and fun bites.”
Habhaboh is now the first Saudi brand with a registered trademark that manufactures and sells organic baobab fruit products.
Basudan said: “We always aim to grow by adding new organic products to the Habhaboh family and get closer to our customers.
“When I grew up, the African lady was no longer there. But I felt so nostalgic for the satisfying taste of the sour and sweet powder of the baobab fruit, that I decided to bring it back to life for me, my generation and introduce it to my kids as well but reshaped and presented in a new way.”
In May 2017 Basudan started his project by offering baobab and doum cubes and powder, and other related products through his online store at www.habhaboh.com. Now Habhaboh items are available at more than 200 shops throughout the Kingdom.
Because the African fruit is seasonal and in short supply for parts of the year, Basudan had to find a way to maintain year-round production.
“Business projects come with various obstacles, and mine was in sourcing the raw material — it is very limited. So, I traveled to different cities in Africa to collect the best quality of raw material and increase production quantity,” the entrepreneur said.
In the future, Basudan aims to expand his factory to include a range of products made from dry and organic fruits and distribute them not just in Middle Eastern and GCC countries but throughout the world.
He recently set up a factory in Sudan and is working to move production gradually to Saudi Arabia.
“One of the obstacles I faced at the beginning of my business was on how to make the perfect recipe that maintains the maximum benefit of the fruit and satisfies the taste of customers,” Basudan added.


Startup of the Week: Protein Laboratory: Making healthy eating fun and easy

Updated 17 September 2019

Startup of the Week: Protein Laboratory: Making healthy eating fun and easy

  • And with growing health awareness, many Saudis are switching over to more nutritious dietary habits

JEDDAH: An enterprising Saudi family is aiming to take the world by storm with its scientific approach to healthy eating.

The Bogari’s newly opened Protein Laboratory restaurant in Jeddah is the brainchild of brothers Ahmed, Hussain and Hassan.

The three doctors got the inspiration for their startup from hospital laboratories while studying in medical school, and with the help of their parents set about establishing their innovative culinary venture.

In recent years the health and fitness fad has become a flourishing business sector in the Kingdom, which has witnessed a dramatic rise in the number of gyms and fitness centers.

And with growing health awareness, many Saudis are switching over to more nutritious dietary habits. However, eating clean can be a challenge for those with busy, modern lifestyles who do not have the time to prepare meals.

Enter the Protein Laboratory, opened to add fun to the idea of healthy food. “We wanted to reintroduce the concept of healthy food to the Saudi health and fitness community,” Ahmed, 27, told Arab News.

“We believe that healthy food does not have to be boring and achieving your goal of fat loss can actually satisfy your taste buds and leave you happily full at the same time.

“We are planning to expand in Jeddah and Makkah to help more people achieve their fitness targets while enjoying tasty food, and we are aiming to be recognized globally,” he said.

The trio started planning their enterprise while studying at medical college but credit their parents’ support for helping turn their vision into a successful business launch.

Their father guided them in setting up the company and their mother took responsibility for the restaurant’s kitchen, playing a major role in developing recipes and supervising operations.

The brothers’ association with the field of medicine also helped them in their efforts. Ahmed was first inspired by hospital laboratories and the way researchers worked on minor details to get the best possible results.

“The long counters, glass walls, and test tubes are what I liked the most, in addition to the complete transparency of the place. It is exactly how I wanted our restaurant to be. Everything to be prepared and cooked just in front of the customer with a high level of attention to detail,” he added.

The idea behind the name Protein Laboratory was to ensure customers had the option to select, mix and create ingredients according to their taste or preference.

“Customers can order their meals according to their nutritional needs and preferences, starting with selecting the protein base, cooking method, side dishes, the sauce and portion of the meal’s components in grams.”

Ahmed said: “We use the healthiest cooking methods possible. We don’t use frozen meat; we blend our own spices and make sure everything is always made in the healthiest way.”

The brothers and their mother work like scientists. “We spent one year testing ingredients and creating healthy recipes. We had only one goal in mind: High protein in a healthy meal and a portion that could help us and others to stay healthy while still eating the food we desired with higher quality and better taste,” Ahmed added.

Their lab salad dish includes more than 20 organic ingredients high in protein, fiber and antioxidants. The restaurant’s burger has only 396 calories, and one of their best-selling desserts is a sugar-free banana pancake.

“We aim to make our prices within everyone’s reach,” Ahmed said.

One of the services offered by the restaurant is subscription to a meal plan drawn up according to the nutritional needs of the customer and delivered to their workplace or home.

Protein Laboratory is located in Helmi Kutbi Street, in Jeddah’s Al-Zahra district and can be followed on Instagram @proteinlabsa.