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BW Businessworld

Meet The Samosa Queen!

Shelina Mawani, Cofounder Nana’s Kitchen in Surrey, British Columbia speaks on what brings failure and how to get success in the business of samosa

“What started as two-sister enterprise in the year 2000 is now a 30-member team,” exclaims Shelina Mawani who is excited to be part of the Women Economic Forum 2017. “My journey as an entrepreneur started way back in 90s and I have witnessed tonnes of failures,” she says. “I am eager to share some lessons on success and failures of business women in India and outside India.”

“As per my experience goes, we chose to serve a heavily saturated market of South Asia in Vancouver and decided to sell samosas. And it turned out to be the biggest failure.”

Speaking on the journey of failures to success that what brings failure and how to get success?, Mawani says, “Do what the market demands. The ordinary samosa with potatoes was not a successful venture for me. It took me 12 years to realise this and the struggle to bring it to where I am today. Now we are labelled as ‘samosa queens’ as we make 30,000 handmade samosas and export in the US.”

So what made her start a samosa enterprise, she quips, “In 1998, we started a restaurant of samosas where we had lost 100,000 USD. We went door-to-door, knocking at coffee shops and universities to buy my ‘different’ product. But all in vain. Normally, a Punjabi samosa costs 3 for a dollar whereas mine is 1 for 3 dollars. We serve a different size, profile and taste.”

But why the name Nana? “In all languages, it is grand ma’s recipe but the name been picked up from my sister’s name Naseem and my name.”

However, Mawani feels that the market opportunity is huge as India food is trading to number 3 in Canada with butter chicken as a staple food.

But Nana’s kitchen cannot be termed as a startup. Mawani feels one has to be more dedicated to start a new venture. “I was too dedicated but it took me long to reach this place. So do what the market demands not what you like,” she says.

Life is a dance and you are a dancer has been rightly said by Oprah Winfrey. “Women should understand that it is very important to believe in yourself and keep struggling in mind.”


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