Top 10 for African super fruit drink in national competition

Thu, 05 Oct 2017 17:12:00 BST

A super-fruit company formed by Glasgow Caledonian University graduate Isatou Njai has made the top ten in a national entrepreneurship and enterprise competition.

The start-up company Hippo & Hedgehog is the brainchild of Isatou and her partner Paul Blackler. The breakfast drink is made from an African super fruit, baobab, and beat more than 2,000 entries from universities across the UK and Ireland at the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards, today (Thursday, October 5).

The high-fibre and dairy-free breakfast drink wowed the judges and is sourced from Africa’s baobab tree and placed in the final six in the competition. Its extract forms a traditional Gambian drink used in celebrations and medicinally.

Isatou, originally from The Gambia, graduated from GCU’s International Business (Risk Management) programme and was supported by the University’s business-incubator hub, UHatch.

She said: “We joked about making our own drink from the fruit, and setting up a business, but it seemed like a very distant dream. When we saw the boom of breakfast drinks in the UK, we were inspired to do something about it.

“We have since developed a low-sugar, healthy alternative to other products on the market. With 55% of the UK actively buying ‘free-from’ products, and 15% of the UK lactose intolerant, our products are dairy-free and vegan, gluten free, high fibre, soy free, low sugar, low calorie and zero fat, meeting many dietary and lifestyle needs.”

The company also commits a minimum of 10% profit to support community development across Africa and sources baobab through a charity supply chain that benefits local community harvesters throughout different countries and regions of Africa.

Jill Watt, Director of Glasgow Caledonian University Foundation, said: “Santander Universities is a huge supporter of our entrepreneurial activities at GCU. Santander has provided financial support as well as their time and expertise and we are thrilled that Hippo & Hedgehog has performed so well to make the national final. This is a true testament to their business concept and hard work.”

UHatch academic lead Professor Bruce Wood added his congratulations to Isatou and Paul. He said: "This success  reflects well on the ambitions of  GCU and UHatch to help our students develop confidence in their ideas and aspirations."