“Food has been my passion since childhood,” said Nazimunnisha Mohammed, gleefully talking about her entrepreneurial journey. Nazimunnisha is the founder of Annafi, a startup focused on organic and nutritional food. She has been on the coveted cooking show Masterchef in its Telugu franchise. Talking to SheThePeople, Nazimunnisha gave a glimpse into her unorthodox journey of defying all odds to step into the food and beverages (F&B) industry as a biotechnology graduate.
Nazimunnisha can be introduced as a science nerd. She holds two Master's degrees– one in Molecular biotechnology from Sweden’s University of Skövde, and another in Biochemistry from Shadan Institute Of Management, Hyderabad. However, the science of concocting a medley of ingredients that tantalise tastebuds piqued her interest more.
Launching A Business
About a year ago, Hyderabad-based Nazimunnisha Mohammed launched Annafi Foods and opened a store called Juice, Eat, and Thrive in Madhapur. At SheThePeople’s Digital Women Awards 2023, she shared how her perspective on health has completely changed since becoming an entrepreneur.
She reminded that leading a brand requires attention to both physical and mental health. “When I was studying I was not following a good diet or paying attention to my health but after getting into entrepreneurship that has completely changed. I feel like I should take care of myself, wake up early, do yoga, and eat well to fulfil my calorie intake for the day. Since my brand is also all about nutritional juices and millet, I am more focused on my health now,” she shared.
Finding Her Path
Cooking and baking have been a trusted companion for Nazimunnisha for as long as she can remember. “I have always been cooking or baking since childhood and had a desire to get into the food and beverages business. But since I'm from a science background, I thought of getting a degree in it so that in case this does not work out for me, I can switch to biotechnology.”
Nazimunnisha grew up shy and struggled to make friends throughout her school days. It was when she attended college and began making her own choices as an adult that she decided to step out of her comfort zone to study abroad. Soon after returning from Sweden, cooking became more than just a hobby for Nazimunnisha, when she was selected to appear in Masterchef Telugu. She made it to the Top 7 round of the sought-after television program, presenting her gift of culinary skills to the world.
The news of her switching up her career path was not welcomed by her relatives. “My family is very conservative and discouraged me from changing from biotechnology to F&B. Even if my parents and brothers were fine with it some distant relatives were not,” she said. However, that did not stop her from following her dreams.
The support she received at Masterchef made her more confident to take risks and start a business. “It was chef Vikas Khanna at Masterchef who inspired me the most. As a hijabi girl, he told me that I have a reach that can inspire women and girls all the way in the UAE as well. He reminded me that people are getting inspired by my story of being a hijabi and following my dreams on television,” she said. “It makes me so happy that young girls see me and feel inspired to find their own path and follow their passion.”