University of Queensland, Australia alum Naajihah Mahmood, established startup HalalBee, aims to simplify the process of finding nearby halal food options for the Muslim community. Mahmood’s journey from a food science graduate to a successful entrepreneur has been nothing short of remarkable.
Born and raised in Singapore, Mahmood was accustomed to a robust governing body that certified halal food and beverage outlets. However, upon moving to Australia in mid-2014 to pursue her studies, she encountered a significant challenge. The halal certification industry in Australia is privatized, leading to complications in centralization and funding. This motivated Mahmood to develop a solution that would make it easier for the Muslim community to locate halal food options in their vicinity.
Reflecting on her motivation, Mahmood expressed, “To this day, I still struggle to find halal food options near me. Food is our sustenance and part of our culture. It makes me happy to be able to eat an amazing, delicious meal, especially one that I can share with someone.” She emphasized that her mission extends beyond helping the Muslim community already residing in Australia. Mahmood aims to assist the next generation of Muslim immigrants and international students who seek a better life and education in the country. By addressing this struggle, she believes she is fulfilling her duty as a Muslim.
Mahmood credits the Ventures team for supporting her throughout her entrepreneurial journey and enabling her to develop her skills and confidence. Her path began with the LeadHers program, a confidence-building initiative for women. Struggling to open up and trust her own capabilities, Mahmood sought a boost in self-assurance. It was during this program that she pitched her idea to a Ventures team member, who introduced her to the various programs available for further learning and development.
Eager to explore the opportunities, Mahmood delved deeper into the Ventures programs. “I went home that day and looked into the programs more. That’s when I waited for Semester 1 to roll around and joined Curiosity,” she recalled. Balancing full-time work and time constraints, Mahmood found the systematic approach of the UQ Ventures programs to be invaluable for her idea’s progress. Her dedication and hard work eventually led her to the prestigious ilab Accelerator program, where she presented her startup to an audience of over 350 people at the annual Pitch Night event earlier this year.
Naajihah Mahmood’s success story serves as a testament to the transformative power of Ventures programs and the unwavering determination of aspiring entrepreneurs. With her innovative solution, HalalBee, Mahmood is poised to make a lasting impact on the lives of Muslims in Australia and beyond. As she continues her entrepreneurial journey, Mahmood’s accomplishments are sure to inspire countless individuals seeking to turn their ideas into reality.