Gbemi Giwa is a Nigerian food and wellness expert and entrepreneur based in Dubai. She has founded several successful businesses and is now focused on her main project, Catfish, an African food restaurant with the sole mission of promoting African meals as an important option for good health and wellness.
Giwa left Nigeria at the age of 16 with the intention of studying civil engineering at the American University of Sharjah. However, her long-standing inner calling and creative mindset, filled with ideas and passion for creating impactful content, led her to graduate with a major in design management and a minor in marketing, defying the norm and expectation of an African family that values engineering, law, and medicine.
Her relocation to Dubai created vast opportunities and a friendly environment to explore her God-given talent and abilities. She told Forbes Africa that Dubai “is one of the easiest places to do business in, especially if you know the right people and have the money… I always tell youngsters it’s better to partner with the right mentor, as they have the experience and you can keep learning from them.”
In 2014, Giwa started her first business Dubai Fit Foodie, an award-winning online food and wellness blog offering healthy food and fitness tips. “The really smart thing that I did –without knowing– was that I had a really good SEO name. People searching for “Dubai’ and “fitness’ and “food’ would find my blog, so it started generating traffic,” she told entrepreneur.com.
The blog’s success provided opportunities for product and restaurant reviews, as well as connections with many people in the hospitality business. She landed her first job after graduating from university in 2015, as a branding and customer executive in BOCA DIFC, where she worked for a year and three months.
She went on to work as a digital media manager at Seven Media for two years and one month. The expertise she accumulated over the years, combined with her creative instinct, drove her to cease working for any organization in order to pursue her passion and focus entirely on establishing her business.
Giwa, also known as a “serial entrepreneur,” went on to start a number of successful online and offline ventures. In 2017, she co-founded a Dubai-based social media platform that helps brands and enterprises start and sustain online exposure and community.
During this time, she met Nathan Gbemisola, with whom she co-founded several enterprises, including Catfish, Vegan AF, and The Gbemi’s Kitchen. She launched the latter in 2019 in Dubai’s Jumeirah Lake Towers, serving traditional Nigerian cuisine.
That same year, she co-founded Dance Body DXB with Ewa Golan, offering dance fitness courses for women who want good dance-based exercises to burn calories and stay healthy in a range of dance styles such as Afro Fit, Reggaeton, Hip Hop, Brazilian Funk, and more.
In 2020, she incurred losses as a result of COVID, which forced the closure of Gbemi’s Kitchen. She was forced to restart later, with a greater emphasis on developing a digital-based COVID-proof business, which led to the establishment of DigiBoss Academy, an online advisory, consulting, and training firm that assists entrepreneurs, content creators, and business owners in developing a strong personal brand by authentically telling their story and establishing themselves as thought leaders and authority in their niche.
Giwa is content with the challenges she has overcome and the accomplishments she has made in her profession. She is currently aiming to invest in her home country of Nigeria, particularly in the agriculture industry, in order to assist female farmers in converting farm goods into non-perishable products and reducing or eliminating losses.