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Edinburgh bakery business causes a buzz with insect bakes following support from Business Gateway

14/06/2024

The Insect Café won in the ‘individual cake’ category at the National Scottish Baker of the Year Awards 2024/25

An Edinburgh bakery business that uses insect protein in its baking is looking to expand its operations after the owner accessed specialist support from Business Gateway.

The Insect Café was launched by Nahla Mahmoud in October 2023. Its products which use four varieties of insects in the baking process, range from nutty cricket brownies to spicy mealworm cakes. Keen to promote the nutritional and sustainable benefits of insects, Nahla’s bakes are high in protein and have a low carbon footprint, using UK suppliers for the insects themselves.

Using no butter, no preservatives and no artificial ingredients, the range of baked goods mean are high in nutritional value. Nahla aims to make nutritious food accessible and affordable.

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Nahla sells her bakes at the Grassmarket Market in Edinburgh, which takes place on the first and third Saturday of every month. She is now looking to increase the number of locations where she sells her baking, including potentially looking at premises for a café. She’s had a positive reaction to her bakes and is naturally met with curiosity, so she can let people know the benefits. She has a lot of returning customers, including those coming to her after a run or cycle.

Thanks to the popular reception for her bakes, Nahla has now been able to give up her full-time job in International Development to focus fully on The Insect Café. Her recipes are inspired by recipes from her childhood and her travels, as well as experimenting with new flavours and combinations.

The Insect Café won in the ‘individual cake’ category for their Larva cocktail ball at the National Scottish Baker of the Year Awards 2024/25 and was also nominated in the Customer Choice category.

Through Business Gateway, Nahla has received support from local adviser, Jeff Hume. Jeff has provided 1:1 support to Nahla, and signposted her to seminars and webinars on marketing, business planning, growth planning, market research and employment.

Through Business Gateway, Nahla was also signposted to a start-up grant from the City of Edinburgh Council which helped her set-up the business. She was also able to take on her first two members of staff, summer interns, thanks to the support.

Looking to the future, Nahla plans to make use of Business Gateway’s Research Service to identity new locations to exhibit at, as well as helping Nahla with looking for an ideal premises to set up a permanent café.

Nahla Mahmoud, owner of The Insect Café, said: “My Business Gateway adviser Jeff has been a fantastic support in setting up my business and helping me with growth. The whole service is a brilliant support. It’s an unusual business concept but is one I truly believe in, and I’ve had a lot of happy returning customers who see the health benefits and appreciate the delicious bakes.”

Jeff Hume, Business Gateway adviser, said: “Working with someone who is as passionate as Nahla is about her business has been fantastic. She has worked hard to build her business and the fact she is seeing such progress and can look to the future for her brand is really exciting and shows her enthusiasm.

We’ve been glad to be able to support her on her journey and to provide her with specialist advice that’s been key to growing her business.”

To find out more about how Business Gateway can help your business, visit https://bgateway.com.

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