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Home Applied Research and Innovation Blog 2014 August 8 Student Entrepreneurs Get Along Smoothly as Butter

Student Entrepreneurs Get Along Smoothly as Butter

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ARIC has a long tradition of collaborating with industry partners to create practical solutions for market problems. At the same time, we grant our students relevant, hands-on experience. Sometimes, we get lucky, and those two goals sync up in remarkable ways.

Ahmed Bawah attends Centennial’s Environmental Protection Technologist Program. Outside of school, he has a family business, Mama’s Life Products, that he incorporated in 2007. The company wholesales exotic soaps, perfumes, and creams, including Shea Butter, a moisturizer extracted from the African shea tree. In this unique project, Ahmed served as both the principle investigator and the industry partner, linking his company up with ARIC. His goal was to find a way to use the Shea Butter that his company sells, along with oil extracts from herbs, to create a new body lotion.

The team worked for six weeks on three major objectives. Firstly, they experimented to find the most efficient, cost-effective way to get the highest yield of essential oils out of oranges and lemongrass. Secondly, they conducted experiments to analyze Shea Butter’s physical and chemical properties, determining its quality to be superb. Finally, they tested to determine the optimal ratio of Shea Butter and essential oils needed to make a commercially viable lotion.

In the end, a pair of moisturizing skin creams were created, and Ahmed plans to bring them to market. “Our company now has priceless data,” he says, “which will serve as catalyst to fuel an innovative and bright future direction for our company.”

The College benefitted too, as the experiments conducted during the project will be incorporated into chemistry courses at Centennial’s Applied Biological and Environmental Science program. Meanwhile, Ahmed benefitted on two levels, as both a student and as a young entrepreneur. “As a student investigator,” Ahmed continues, “I had an opportunity to utilize my lab skills obtained from the Environmental Protection Technologist Program.”

“This project has allowed me to gain a better grasp of how the skills gleaned from the Environmental Technologist Program can be employed to support my endeavours as an entrepreneur.”