A Centennial College graduate is turning his expertise with shea butter into a successful business.
Ahmed Bawah’s company, Mama’s Life Products, specializes in shea butter, a skincare product that protects and renews a person’s skin. Ahmed first discovered shea butter and its healing properties in 2006, and soon thought about turning it into a business venture. Ahmed was motivated to have his own business and earn his own capital.
“I’ve always been excited about entrepreneurship,” he says. “That’s always been a passion. It hits home to me, being able to control what you do, and not being marginalized by a job.”
In 2009 Ahmed’s entrepreneurial drive led him to complete Centennial College’s HYPE (Helping Youth Pursue Education) program, and afterwards he enrolled in the college’s environmental protection technologies program.
“I just dove right in,” he says. “I was picking up skills that I found transferrable to my business. We were doing microbiology, chemistry, physics, coupled with applied engineering, so I was able to glean and recognize some skills that were transferrable to what I was planning on the side.”
In his final year, Ahmed engaged in a special project with ARIC, the Applied Research and Innovation Centre, related to shea butter. The goal was to better understand the product’s chemistry, and use the findings to help create new products. The rest of the project is chronicled on ARIC’s blog here, but needless to say, it was a huge success, one that Ahmed says he was fated to participate in.
“A part of me almost feels like my whole experience at Centennial was to do that research,” he gushes. “Being able to wrap my head around the shea butter from a molecular perspective was just amazing for me.” The research project would pay off for Ahmed, further enhancing his business.
Currently, Ahmed is receiving support from Centennial College’s ACCEL program, which is supported by Ontario’s Campus-Linked Accelerators (CLA) program, managed by Ontario Centres of Excellence. Ahmed works closely with the ACCEL team of coaches and mentors to further enhance his innate business characteristics and skills to better serve his rapidly growing client base. Mama's Life Products and Ahmed have benefited from coaching, business training and professional advice which have created opportunities for the company to grow in size and refine its business plan as the company scales up its operations. Since Ahmed joined the ACCEL program, he has presented Mama's Life Products at events such as the CICan’s Enabling Entrepreneurship Symposium in Quebec City and OCE’s Discovery in Toronto to promote his brand and product line to prospective clients, the ONE network and Canadian Colleges across the country.
Mama's Life Products are currently available online, in stores within the GTA and are wholesaling to locations in Vancouver and Calgary. ACCEL has worked with Ahmed to scale his business from self-employment into a company-structured operation with plans for distribution throughout North America and the Caribbean.
This story was provided by Centennial College.