When my family moved from Egypt to Canada in 2011 we would always make hibiscus—a traditional and popular drink in Egypt—for new friends and neighbors. People loved it! There wasn’t anything similar to it in the Canadian market, and we saw an opportunity. So in 2018, my mom and I started Nuba.

We make certified organic, freshly-brewed, all-natural, ready-to-drink hibiscus tea and other authentic drinks from the Middle East. We source our hibiscus flowers from small-scale farmers in Egypt—a region called Nuba—which is what we named the company after. We’re proudly a women-owned, BIPOC business, and I’m very grateful to get to share this journey with my mom.

How Business School Fits Into the Plan

My objectives for pursuing an MBA are to expand my professional skillset, deepen my technical knowledge, and gain mentorship to accelerate the growth of Nuba. I believe that an MBA will provide access to valuable resources and a support ecosystem that will fuel my success as an entrepreneur. It’s been great connecting with the larger Duke and Fuqua network during my first year here, and everyone has been very generous with their time and expertise.

Also, broadening my perspective by learning from the diverse experiences of my classmates is something I’m eager to do. My objective after completing my MBA is to focus on implementing our international growth strategies, and there are a lot of valuable perspectives to tap into here.

I’m really excited to be taking entrepreneurial finance and entrepreneurial strategy courses in the spring—I think both will be incredibly helpful. I’m also taking the New Ventures Delivery class and working with a team of other MBA students on a strategic project for Nuba.

bottled beverages from Gina's family startup Nuba
Our product line displayed on the Dragons’ Den set

The Dragons’ Den Experience

We’re very excited to be contestants on the TV series “Dragons’ Den” in Canada, which some of you might know better by “Money Tigers” or “Shark Tank” as the series is named in other countries. It’s been an incredible experience so far. My dad has been pushing us to audition for years, and we never felt ready. But the stars aligned for us this year and he’s really proud.

Being on the set of a show that our family has watched for a decade was surreal. We filmed our segment this summer after a whirlwind audition process and the wait to hear whether our segment was going to make it to air required a ton of patience. And now we’re eagerly awaiting our appearance to finally air on December 16. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, so we trying to make the most out of it.