Photo: Amaliah founders Nafisa Bakkar, Selina Bakkar and Halal Gems founder Zohra Khaku. Photo supplied by Amaliah.

Halal Industry Islamic Lifestyle

UK Muslim women-focused media company Amaliah acquires Halal Gems

London-based media company Amaliah has acquired halal food guide Halal Gems for an undisclosed amount, it said in a statement today.

Amaliah, led by sisters Selina and Nafisa Bakkar, specialises in “amplifying the voices of Muslim women” through its content platform.

“We’ve officially signed all documentation to acquire Halal Gems under the Amaliah brand,” co-founder and CEO Nafisa told Salaam Gateway.

Amaliah will be buying into a start-up that has an online reach of more than two million a month, according to Nafisa.

Halal Gems, which was incorporated in 2011, runs two halal foodie apps and a digital halal food magazine in the UK. Since 2017, it also started organising the Street Eats food festival.

Amaliah will position Halal Gems separately from its parent company, said Nafisa.

The big draws for Amaliah is the offline work that Halal Gems has built into its portfolio, and the acquisition of a different audience.

“The interesting thing about Halal Gems and the reason why we have kept it separate is because Halal Gems comes with a mixed audience unlike Amaliah which is obviously first and foremost around amplifying the voices of Muslim women,” said the co-founder.

“While it will come as quite a curveball, or I guess a shock, to our community it’s actually been something that's been an ongoing conversation for quite a while,” she said.

Amaliah and Halal Gems previously worked together on content pieces for Ramadan and the two companies have a “huge alignment in values”, said Nafisa.

Amaliah is also keen on building on Halal Gems' offline work. Street Eats is an annual festival at London’s Old Spitalfields Market that offers a halal-only selection of food, beverages and dining experiences.

“We want to be able to offer a lot more offline. If you’re out and you want to do something on a Friday or Saturday night or just generally, there’s not that much out there and I think  there’s a big shift not just amongst Muslims who want to do a lot more in terms of experiences that aren’t centred around alcohol or drinking culture,” said the Amaliah CEO.

Halal Gems founder Zohra Khaku told Salaam Gateway her start-up needs “a team to take it to the next level”.

“The Amaliah team are more than capable and bring their own insight and expertise which will develop and grow the organisation,” said Zohra.

She will stay on the team for at least a year through the transition period while also pursuing a new full-time role as director at the charity Muslim Youth Helpline that provides emotional support for young Muslims and delivers training to organisations to improve the lives of community members.

Amaliah started in January 2016 curating modest fashion as a blog before opening its own e-commerce store. In the summer of 2017, it relaunched as a media company.

It quickly found a footing as an agency bridging its large community of Muslim women to brands seeking their attention, and custom.

“Our reach across and our channels is over 1.2 million a month,” Nafisa told Salaam Gateway.

“We work with brands like Spotify, Lush, eBay, all the well-known ones, to help them communicate with our audience both in creative and consultancy ways,” she added.

“We know that by itself will not touch every single Muslim woman, but we know if we work with different brands, if we work with all these different mainstream companies that have touchpoints with Muslim women, then we can impact and influence lots of different touchpoints that consumers are facing,” Nafisa said.

For now, Amaliah will focus on bringing Halal Gems under its brand, and delivering Street Eats at the end of April.

Beyond that, the company will be expanding its team for future initiatives.

“There are a lot of different things that I want to bring into Halal Gems for which it will need its own team, which we will eventually be recruiting … There are a couple of things that I want to change, a couple of things that we want to bring in, and so we’re restructuring what that team looks like and understanding what expertise we need,” said Nafisa.

Amaliah currently has three full-time employees, including co-founders Nafisa and Selina.

It has received around 234,800 British pounds ($304,077) in two rounds of seed investment on crowdfunding site Seedrs in 2016, according to Crunchbase. Its pre-money valuation was 879,200 pounds. Paul Field, who is CEO EMEA for New York-based video technology company Touchcast and a former Daily Mail exec and journo, led the 2016 investment round. Field serves as an advisor to Amaliah.

(Reporting by Emmy Abdul Alim; Editing by Seban Scaria

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