Imperial College London
Hometown: Dubai, UAE Fun Fact About Yourself: I’ve been boxing for 3 years
Undergraduate School and Major / Degree programme: University of Warwick, BSc Philosophy, Politics and Economics
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your life so far: Starting my entrepreneurship journey with the Zola Collective
Was Entrepreneurship always your career goal? Yes! I used to make and sell Scoubidou keychains when I was in Middle School, and host bake sales in my compound to raise money for the World Wildlife Fund.
What led you to pursue an MiM at this point in your personal development? After completing my PPE degree at Warwick I acquired the moral and theoretical concepts of building a profitable business with a sustainable business model. I worked as an Account Executive at an Advertising Agency in Dubai for a year before deciding to enroll on the MSc in Management at Imperial College London. I decided that the program would be a great transition as it enabled someone like me, with no business background to acquire them at an advanced level in one year, in order to build my own startup.
How did you decide if a MiM was worth the investment? Most students do a 4-year bachelor’s degree, since mine was only a 3-year degree an additional one year in education wasn’t much of a debate. Not only would I acquire the core theory of starting a business I would also obtain a prestigious certificate.
What other MiM programs did you apply to? How did you determine your fit at various schools? I only applied to Imperial College London, I loved the program content and wanted to be based in London.
What was the key factor that led you to choose this Masters in Management and why was it so important to you? I was looking for a short challenging course that would give me fundamentals of business management, the opportunity to work on multiple entrepreneurial projects and develop the fundamentals of account and finance.
Tell me about your venture: The Zola Collective provides a platform for small scale African businesses to access the global marketplace. We screen, select and help entrepreneurs scale-up their operations by providing guidance on best practices to market and retail their products online. Zola’s team has expertise and insights into sourcing, packaging and selling locally grown produce in international markets. We commercialise indigenous species such as Baobab, Moringa and Hibiscus and market them in the food, drink and cosmetic industries. We have developed a competitive advantage by building our own ethical supply chain that employs female farmers, preserves biodiversity and has a low carbon footprint.
How has your business school experience helped you in creating and launching your business? My Masters in Management, has equipped me with the skills to analyse and interpret large amounts of information. I developed the capability to absorb new information and make objective decisions about the repercussions of evolving and innovative technology. My interest in evolving technologies led me to undertake an introduction to coding course during my programme at Imperial which helped in building The Zola Collective’s e-commerce platform.
What activities/experiences have most benefited you on your entrepreneurship journey during your time at business school? While studying at Imperial I worked as an Engagement Manager for the Cambridge Consulting Network which involved helping Founders of UK based startups develop Business Growth Strategies and optimise results. I learnt that the foundation of a successful start-up is built on the founder’s ability to actualise their vision. I witnessed first hand the multiplier effect an entrepreneur has on communities, the economy and other aspiring entrepreneurs. I had the opportunity to work closely with other social businesses gaining insights into funding strategies and business development strategies which have been key contributors to The Zola Collective.
What quality best describes the MiM classmates you’ve met so far and why? Every ICL student I met in 2015 was starry-eyed, with big dreams and goals which was extremely motivating to be around. We drew energy from each other’s enthusiasm which led to the next step in our careers.
What is the biggest/most important lesson you have learned during your studies? One of our core modules at Imperial College London Business School was Sustainability in Business, the key takeaway from this subject was that a business is successful when it operates with the environment, economy and ethics in mind. This has been the core value The Zola Collective was founded on, a vision we have actively shared with our 1800+ social media followers, friends, family and acquaintances.
What are the next steps for you / your entrepreneurial venture? Get as many new African businesses onto the Zola platform!
Where do you see yourself in five years? It’s hard to say, especially since, in 2015 I would have never expected to be working from home mid-pandemic, unable to travel. I’m completely open to new opportunities and ventures that get thrown my way and definitely see myself working to grow The Zola Collective worldwide.
DON’T MISS: MEET THE MIM ENTREPRENEURS OF 2020