Ever since he can remember, Anthony Brahimsha would visit his extended family in Aleppo, Syria, at least once a year. He didn’t stop visiting the region even after civil war broke out in 2011 and many of his family members were displaced.
But his trips did start taking on a different purpose.
In 2012 Brahimsha, who was a New York-based investment banker at the time, began traveling to southern Turkey along the Syrian border to work with the nonprofits that were setting up schools for children in the refugee camps there.
“I saw how the war had made the younger generation so vulnerable and forced many children into refugee camps,” he said. “I felt compelled to do whatever I could to help mitigate the consequences of war on these children.”
During these trips, Brahimsha witnessed children suffering from malnutrition. For the most severely malnourished kids, doctors at the camps would administer a peanut-based high-protein product called Plumpy’Nut. “They would give it once a day for eight weeks. It’s like a superfood with a 99% rehabilitation rate,” said Brahimsha.
After he returned home from a trip in 2014, Brahimsha made a decision: he would start a company that would support efforts to help fight malnutrition among refugee children. And that company would sell a food that was close to his own heart–hummus.
Plumpy’Nut had triggered a familiar memory in Brahimsha of his grandmother’s homemade hummus. The hummus he had grown up eating was also a high-protein healthy food.
“Hummus is a staple food in Middle Eastern culture. You have it at breakfast, lunch or dinner,” he said.
“To me, my grandmother’s recipe is authentic hummus,” said Brahimsha, who was born to Syrian parents and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. “I wanted to recreate it using her recipe as a foundation, and fortify it to provide extra nutrition.”
He spent the following two years working on his product.