Fatima Babakura is the founder and creative director of Timabee, a high-end brand of women’s accessories. Timabee was founded when Fatima was 19 years. The brand has since expanded to become a global brand with a global clientele.
She is also a co-founder of the multi-brand store Signature Boutique in Canada, which aims to promote the creations of African-based designers to a global audience.
Fatima graduated with honours in business from the esteemed McMaster University in Canada. She most recently appeared on the Forbes Africa 30 Under 30 cover.
Fatima sees her path to starting Timabee as a thing of chance. However, she credits her entrepreneurial endeavours to her father who was also a businessman and an owner of a farm in Lagos.
Fatima Babakura was born in Lagos, but she is originally from Borno, Nigeria. She was raised in a traditional Northern Nigerian home, and it was drilled in her that at a certain age, she would unavoidably have to complete her education before finding a wealthy husband who could provide for her. Babakura, however, was not going to permit this.
Fatima’s upbringing in Lagos provided her with a unique view on life, covering,
“Make your own money and then go to school, so it’s not like you are waiting for someone to come and take care of you”.
She sees herself as a privileged person to have experienced that and as not “your average Northern Nigerian girl.”
How Timabee was launched
Fatima Babakura had no intention of creating Timabee. She had always dreamed of being a doctor, specifically, a paediatrician, like most African children do.
During her first year of study in Canada, Babakura started the brand. She created a “simple handbag” and gave it as a gift to a close family friend.
She felt the bag didn’t meet her standards. But staying true to her notion of being “curious,” she went in search of a manufacturer who would produce this bag.
Despite being a student of accounting with no background in business or fashion, she pursued her curiosity,
“I did a simple Google search which led me to Alibaba where I found a company that agreed to make me a sample for $150 in December 2013.”
Babakura, set out to spend the $150 she had gotten from her parents as pocket money, but she was unsuccessful. as she was duped by a fraudulent vendor.
However, losing the money did not stop her, “I was determined to find someone else to make my bag, but this time I was a lot more careful and I did my due diligence researching the company.”
Timabee reaching the limelight and awards
One of Timabee’s biggest achievements came in 2021 when Grammy Award-winning American artist and entrepreneur Beyoncé endorsed the company.
“Last year, when Beyoncé’s team compiled a list of black-owned businesses, we were honored to make the list. It shows that as a small, growing brand, the work we put in every day does not go unnoticed.”
In addition to being named one of Nigeria’s top 100 most inspirational women, Fatima was named a WEF Iconic Woman in 2017 and has been nominated for other important accolades, including the MAX Group Canada Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2019. Fatima’s aim is to launch an international mentoring program for female entrepreneurs.
“I am very passionate about mentorship especially for younger girls that look like me and I think it is very important to start them young.” It is with this very idea that Fatima is currently building TGRAfrica, a platform that supports women entrepreneurship in Africa specifically Northern Nigeria.