United Arab Emirates’ royal family member Sheikha Arwa Al Qassimi has invested in a vegan start-up.
The investment - the amount of which is undisclosed - will help Mumbai-based start-up Wegan Foods bring its first product to market.
The company hopes the soya-free cheese will eventually be sold in major retailers. It will initially become available through food delivery platforms.
Kinjal Darukhanawala, the Founder and CEO of Wegan Foods said: “We are creating a range of products that are delicious and dairy free. We aim to be an ethical and transparent brand, which will source the highest quality ingredients.
"Each product will be crafted in what we call ‘happy kitchens’ and not in labs or factories. Being a passionate vegan and health enthusiast myself, I realised that there are very few local vegan pantry staples available in India. Our products will address a growing market of vegans and people who may want to choose a healthier dietary lifestyle.”
The product - Dairy Free Cheese - took six months to develop. Like dairy-based cheese, it melts and can be sliced or shredded.
This development period was key. "The idea is not just being vegan, but also carrying a line of products that are delicious and nutritious for all age groups to devour," says Darukhanawala.
"A lot of people have preconceived notions about vegan food; they think it is boring, tasteless and far from original taste and flavour."
Investing in women
Talking about her investment, Sheikha Arwa Al Qassimi said: "“I have invested in Wegan Foods in my personal capacity. I was impressed with the fact that Kinjal plans to have a 90 per cent women workforce by hiring from organizations that groom and empower women from disadvantaged backgrounds.
"This is the biggest motivation for me. Globally, I have been an advocate for women’s rights and see this investment as a step in that direction.”
This is just the first step, and Darukhanawala has major plans for the future, expanding both the product line and distribution channels. She aims to supply airlines, hotels, coffee shops, catering services, and restaurants with her products.