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

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

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

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.