LONDON: A British-based Pakistani chef has been named among the world’s most impressive and game-changing entrepreneurs by Forbes – an American business magazine.
Greetings from Lahore, Zahra Khan has reached the Forbes 30 under 30 Europe list in the retail and e-commerce category.
Khan founded cafes Feya and Dyce near the iconic Harrods and Selfridges retail stores in the exclusive part of central London at Knightsbridge and Oxford Street after graduating from celebrity chef Gordan Ramsay’s culinary academy.
“At the age of 13, I was asked to study science because I could not achieve a dignified career out of baking. I was repeatedly told that women are domestic workers who only belong in kitchens at home. I had fallen into in a cultural stereotype; in Pakistan, where I was born, women are historically disadvantaged due to cultural and religious barriers that lead to setbacks such as gender discrimination, unemployment and psychological problems, “Khan told Geo.tv .
Khan said she founded the Feya café in central London at the same time as she became a mother. She established and ran her business successfully – which increased the team size from 5 to 30 employees.
“I have received 100 franchise applications from countries such as the UK, UAE, KSA, Qatar, Kuwait, Canada, and that too without any formal listing.”
During the pandemic, Khan launched an initiative to empower women and reduce the gender gap by 10% of the profits from Feya’s retail line of chocolates, jams and teas that drew into the cause. Each product carries its unique message of empowerment, self-awareness and motivation developed by a team of female illustrators.
According to Khan, Feya is on track to open new retail stores in 2021.
“I am in the process of expanding Feya’s retail network and targeting a further 25 locations outside the UK through franchise agreements. In 2025, I expect to create 400 job opportunities for women and spread the empowerment message: promote UN Sustainability Goal 5, ”she said.
Khan claimed she was the first and only Pakistani woman to ever attend the prestigious Gordon Ramsay’s Aunt Marie Culinary Academy since its opening in 1954.
“Moving to the UK and pursuing an independent career came with significant challenges, which in turn became my motivation for combating societal pressures and proving that women of any background can take professional leadership roles and give to other women, especially mothers,” he said. she.
The young entrepreneur said she feels incredibly proud to have established three eateries in the UK’s male-dominated male industry, while at the same time becoming a mother of two and battling postpartum depression.
“I believe that the success of the company, the global franchise and the interests of stakeholders reflect the competencies of the company’s 75% female workforce – the core of my business values and growth strategy,” she said.
According to Forbes, there were tens of thousands of nominations and recommendations from industry experts, and former Under 30 alumni were reviewed to form a shortlist.
The finalists were selected by a panel of judges that included Russian e-commerce billionaire Tatyana Bakalchuk, founder of Wildberries, French jewelry entrepreneur Valérie Messika and Pascar Sivam, founder and CEO of Danish watchmaker Nordgreen and 2019 30 Under 30 Europe alum.