A member of the royal family of Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah, Al Qassimi has invested an undisclosed sum in Mumbai-based food startup Wegan Foods. Even though, the princess has been involved in several charitable projects including in India, this is her first investment in an Indian company.
The funding decision was taken because of the very fact that founder of the startup is a woman and the startup runs on good intentions of hiring women from financially-weak backgrounds.
Wegan foods is founded by Kinjal Darukhanawala who is also CEO of the startup. She stated that out of the total workforce, the startup plans to hire about 90 per cent women, that too from organisations that groom and empower women from disadvantaged backgrounds. This was the biggest motivation for Sheikha Arwa Al Qassimi to invest in their company.
An advocate of women’s rights, Sheikha Arwa Al Qassimi is known for sponsoring humanitarian and charitable initiatives and has also worked with ‘Food for Change’, a fund-raising effort for worthy causes.
She is also on the board of Sightsavers, a development agency working in more than 30 countries to combat blindness and restore sight.
The booming Indian start-up space has seen investors and celebrities rushing and investing in these companies. Earlier, iconic global fund manager Mark Mobius had invested and profitably exited ‘Express Bike Works’, while Indian business tycoons such as Ratan Tata had also invested in many start-ups. For Wegan Foods, which was boot-strapped by Darukhanawala in November 2016, this is its first fund raising.
Darukhanawala also added that the company does not sell any animal products, not even honey or cheese. The products address a growing market of vegans and people would like to choose a healthier dietary lifestyle.
The startup will use the funding for setting up its kitchen, inventory and brand building. To begin with, the startup is in the process of setting kitchen in Mahim, Mumbai, and following its success will venture into other cities, starting with the four metros.
In addition, the startup also aims to sign agreements with restaurants, hotels, catering companies, coffee shop chains and airlines. The company is gearing up to launch a range of dairy-free, pantry staples for the vegan community in India.
The company will launch its first product dairy-free cheese in October, which is also soy and gluten-free.