Qatar, UAE
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What Do You Get If You Mix a Skinny Model, Dark Chocolate and a South American Leaf?

A chocolate fanatic, it was not easy for Elena Weber to stay skinny for her modelling career in the UAE. But as she travelled to Argentina in 2011, she encountered stevia, a green leaf used in South America as a natural sweetener, and her career took an unexpected turn.

Why not make sugar-free cakes with it? She thought. The result, the Icons Coffee Couture chain, is Dubai’s first coffee shop with no added sugar, “because you’re sweet enough,” as her slogan reads.

In a country where 19% of the population suffers from diabetes, her cafe concept is more than a fashion trend. “Today you seldom find a product that does not contain sugar – you find it in breads, tomato soups, sauces, but it’s one of the main reasons for diabetes and obesity,” she told the National.

Setting up the business was not easy for Weber, who had to run her business plan, along with cupcake samples to investors all in no less than nine months. Today, her fashion café brand makes waves in the UAE, and she has already signed a franchising agreement for six other outlets in the UAE and five in Qatar.

For more information: Visit Icons’ website

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Valentina Primo

Journalist, globetrotter, and determined idealist. Since Valentina left her home country of Argentina, she has searched for ways to build bridges between cultures and foster dialogue. Her previous work in international organizations in Italy and Germany fed her passion for the world of development, while her 8-year journalistic experience in Argentina and Egypt increased her curiosity for everything that challenges the stereotype. She holds a BA in Journalism and a Masters in Peace Studies with a specialization in Human Rights.

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