nuba ontario

Egyptian mother and daughter start up business just outside Toronto that keeps selling out

Just outside Toronto, a mother and daughter have started up a business that connects with their Egyptian roots, and they've been selling out on the regular.

Their company Nuba produces hibiscus tisane, an herbal tea made using hibiscus flowers that grow on the banks of the Nile. The latter has been revered for its healthful properties since ancient Egyptian times.

The company sells ready-to-drink beverages that can be served hot or cold starting at $18, as well as the dried flowers starting at $10, all of which can be ordered online or picked up at stores across Toronto.

"We're a mother-daughter team, passionate about supporting small-scale farmers in Southern Egypt, a place that's close to our heart, as it's where our family is from. We named the company Nuba after the region," Gina El Kattan, who founded Nuba with her mom Amal Soliman, tells blogTO.

"Hibiscus is full of health benefits and has more antioxidants than matcha. It's considered the highest antioxidant beverage in the world. We're also the only company in North America making authentic, traditional Middle Eastern drinks [including] tamarind, carob, apricot [and] a seasonal line traditionally consumed during the month of Ramadan."

Soliman has a Ph.D. in agriculture and over 20 years of food processing experience, while El Kattan has five years of experience in marketing. They moved to Canada 11 years ago and now run Nuba full-time in Oakville.

Their drinks are different because they're freshly brewed starting with raw ingredients, rather than made using concentrates like many other beverages. They regularly sell out during Ramadan, when drinks like these are typically consumed, but they're hoping that's mostly due to kinks they want to work out with supply chain issues.

"We founded Nuba with the mission of supporting predominantly-female small farmers in Southern Egypt by using their harvest, to manufacture and sell authentic Middle Eastern herbal drinks worldwide," says El Kattan.

"These are the drinks we grew up drinking in Egypt, we feel a responsibility to bring an authentic and all-natural version of them to Canada. This is deeply personal to us as it is our heritage and culture."

In the future, they hope to expand across Canada and introduce new products.

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