We speak with Farhana Ibrahim, managing director of Binta’s Kitchen, to discover the backstory behind the business, where to turn for support and share her advice for future entrepreneurs
Give us your elevator pitch.
Binta's Kitchen is a London based, female-founded and black-owned brand committed to sharing wellness and putting northern Nigerian foods on the map. Our sauces and superfoods are infused with exciting flavours whilst being healthy, vegan and nutritious.
Our range includes superfood powders such as Moringa, Baobab and Hibiscus. These superfoods can boost your breakfast porridge, cereal, yoghurt or smoothie or can even be used as an ingredient in baking. Our products are also made with fresh fruits and vegetables sourced directly from farms. To prevent food waste we include ingredients that are considered too big, too ripe or just plain pear-shaped. What matters to us is making the best tasting food in the most sustainable way.
Binta’s Kitchen has an intriguing back story we’d love for you to share with our readers.
I grew up in London as a first-generation northern Nigerian. As a child, I was surrounded by my mum Binta's traditional northern Nigerian food and wanted to share it with others.
While I was at university studying for a masters, I entered a business competition for students. I did not have a name or branding at the time; I just entered with the 'Tomato and Red Pepper sauce' in a glass jar with makeshift labels. On the night of the competition people loved the sauces, they sold out, and we won by the people's vote! This took me on a trajectory to start Binta’s Kitchen to share wellness and northern Nigerian foods with the world.
There is no way you can build a business if your mindset is in shambles. Fortify your mindset, and you’re halfway there!
Who or where have you turned to for support while building your business?
The thing I found most challenging about starting my own business was not knowing where to start! Not only that, I didn’t even have a solid business plan or vision; I was totally lost and had no clue where to go or what to do. Over time, I educated myself. I started listening to podcasts on entrepreneurship, such as Mindset By Design, by Andy Murphy. This is a great podcast that helps you build a winning mindset so that you’re in control of your life. There is no way you can build a business if your mindset is in shambles. Fortify your mindset, and you’re halfway there!
I was also reaching out and asking people who had done what I was trying to achieve, which helped me to gain a mentor. My mentor had a track record of building a company, not just a brand, which also helped to propel my brand.
What has been Binta’s Kitchen’s greatest achievement?
Since launching, we have been interviewed by Vanessa Feltz on BBC radio, featured on Misguided for International Women’s Day, The Grocer and Stylist magazine. We have also had interest from buyers at Asda, Tesco and Selfridges and are working towards being listed in the next six months.
Do you see a way of combining your studies in child and adolescent mental health with your business or a future business idea?
As a brand, we are also committed to ending food poverty in children. We run bi-monthly sessions teaching children about cooking and healthy food in Barking. We also use a percentage of our profits to provide our products to children in the local community who need them most.
Where do you see yourself and Binta’s Kitchen in 5 years time?
My vision is for Binta’s Kitchen to be one of the nations favourite health food brands. We really want to change how people perceive west African foods and health foods so that it can help us stretch into other categories. The equity that we have in the brand is strong and growing; we have an established range of sauces in squeeze packs, but we are also developing drinks and an innovation pipeline that we will get out into stores within the next six months.
Do you have any other advice for the next generation of entrepreneurs?
My advice would be to have and show confidence in yourself and in your business idea. Use your passion to find a mentor in your field who can help you avoid some mistakes and get to where you want much quicker.
If you ever need reminding to take opportunities when you see them, think back to Farhana's story. It's fabulous to see her passion, confidence and business grow from strength to strength. Truly inspiring!
free-from, with love x