Mombasa women owned home-based food business

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Gone are the day people look for jobs to sustain themselves, everyday you will find people inventing themselves to create an income to sustain themselves and families. A lot of start-ups are sprucing up in different cities to fill a gap that has emerged, or a solution to a problem. In recent months in Mombasa, women have emerged in being entrepreneurs and helping provide for their families. In addition many have come up with home based food business, which helps many who have no time to cook meals, snacks etc. It is cheaper and economical. Below are a few Businesses that were interviewed about their business.

Salma Sumar

Name of Business

Let me start by introducing myself, to anyone who doesn’t know me out there yet! My Name is Salma Munir Sumar. I am the founder and managing director of Sumar.Rasoi, a home-based catering business here in Mombasa.

What’s your speciality?

We specialize in both Indian and the Arab-Swahili cuisine. Our Signature Meals, consisting of the freshest ingredients with  the most authentic tastes is served  to individuals, Parties and corporate. In Simpler words we are here to serve and satisfy your tastebuds and cravings with exciting hot yet yummy chillies, spices and all the scrumptious food from our kitchen.

Why did you start this business?

I can actually say, I have inherited this from my mom. She has been in this business since 2002 and I just took over in 2016. It’s just a continuation of what she has been doing. It was then called Munir’s Kitchen (Munir is my dad) and when i took over i had to rebrand it to Sumar Rasoi (Sumar is our Family Name while Rasoi is an Indian word for Kitchen) alhamdillah I have grown watching my mom do all the catering techniques and all, hence here i am right now.

Any challenges that you have encountered? 

You know running a catering business may sound like a fun way to showcase your culinary skills, but the job comes with quite a few headaches. Anyone out there who wants to embark on a culinary career, make sure you’re ready for the challenges. Your business is only as good as the newest satisfied customers that you can add to your client list, and you’ll need to be ready to persevere through setbacks and stress. I have gone through quite some challenges; one was when I was rebranding Sumar Rasoi I had to handle the marketing side of the business solely, like I had to advertise my services to find new customers’ also had to deal with stress at some point. People don’t know this but catering is a high-stress job with demanding clients. Each client is king they said and so i have to be ready to take criticism and keep a professional attitude even if someone is chewing me out for doing something wrong. Just be ready for the unexpected disasters. Another challenge involves long hours of working on my feet. I have to be flexible and able to work successfully. Sometimes I have to put in more time and work into the wee hours of the morning or late night in order to get everything done for my clients.

What do you want to achieve 5 years from now?

Now that’s a mission, right? Frankly speaking, whenever I go to the supermarket, I really admire the spices section. Like Natures Own, Tropical Heat, Orleys and all those Big brands. My wish is that one fine day my Brand will be among them in the shelves of our supermarkets. I want Sumar Rasoi to be  recognized as a leading distinctive brand of fresh homemade chillies ,pickles,sauces,pastes,all the snacks and savories offered to our lovely customers at the most reasonable, affordable price. For a healthier refreshing, delicious and totally satisfying meal.

Jamila Asgarali

Name of Business

The name of my business is Jamila’s Cakes.

You can find me on instagram under the name jamilas_cakes and on Facebook as Jamila’s Cakes.

What’s your Specialty?

My speciality is making baked goods for all ocassions.

Various types of cakes such as black forest and whiteforest. My most popular cakes are my forest cakes and whipped cream cakes.

I also make doughnuts, swissrolls and different types of desserts such as chocolate mousse, strawberry mousse, fruit cocktail trifle and so much more.

Why did you start this business?

I initially started as a hobby baker. But as my interest grew I went ahead and did a course on the bakery fundamentals in Pune, India.

I learnt so much whilst over there and became better with my work which i can now sale proudly.

Customers are the biggest motivators and their positive feedbacks keep me going every day.

Any Challenges that you have encountered?

Initially, I did not have enough baking appliances but now i can say i have got almost everything I need.

Another challenge may be the power failure but it is manageable because apart from the oven, there are other ways to bake a cake such as the traditional “mawe tatu” method.

What do you want to achieve 5 years from now?

I see myself starting wedding cakes and opening a bakery in order to make it commercial.

Also I would like to start other confectionary items such as bread making.

Maimuna Yusuf

Name of Business

Almanar food delivery and catering services

What is your specialty?

I deal with daily delivery of meals to homes, offices and schools free of charge. I also do events catering within coast region.

Why did you start this business?

I love to savor a good meal; i like to experiment with different ingredients, techniques and types of cuisine in my own kitchen. I love to cook for friends and family and see the enjoyment in their faces as they enjoy the meals.

I love being free- In catering, it doesn’t matter how long the preparation takes, as long as it’s finished. It could mean longer hours, but could also mean shorter hours. In starting a catering business, i became my own boss, able to do the work and then relax, or attend to the events and work even harder

Any challenges which you have encountered?

One of the major challenges is the logistical complexity, which consumes huge amount of capital and time to solve it.

Time equals money in any business and to be honest; managing the field workforce in this competitive environment can be complicated. It is difficult to keep track of each and every delivery boy which in turn results in inefficiency and late deliveries.

What do you want to achieve in 5 years time?

In 5 years to come, I’m expecting to have my own mobile app for food ordering and delivery. As the technology is evolving, I should expect to be even able to track the delivery boy to combat the efficiency issue.

Getrude Mahenzo

Name of Business

My business is named Mahenzo dishes; mahenzo is a mijikenda name meaning love.

 What is your Specialty?

I specialize in coastal dishes and snack e.g. viazi karai, bhajia samosas, pilau maharagwe ya nazi and etc.

Why did you start this business?

I am a graduate with a degree in Bsc Agriculture-Economic; I graduated in the year 2014. I haven’t been able to secure a stable job so in the meantime I thought why not start my very own small business, plus coastal foods have a very unique taste and its very marketable in Nairobi.

Any Challenges that you have encountered?

I do everything by myself; at times I sleep very late especially when I have a very large order. I also do office delivery, meaning I cater for the transportation cost plus at times the food is very bulky to transport but I have to carry it myself coz at the moment I use public means as I don’t own my very own car. Sometimes I go days without customers since I do it from home so I decided to only cook when people order, most of the time I advertise my business via Facebook and whatsapp, when a substantial number of people make order then I cook and offer free delivery if the number isn’t economical I kindly explain to them and offer to cook another day.

What do you want to achieve 5 years from now?  

God’s willing in 5 years to come I hope that I will have my very own hotel, one that’s specializes only in coastal dishes and I hope it’ll be my main source of income.

Phidilliah Njoya

Name of Business

Phidy’s cuisines

What is your specialty?

I deal with Swahili snacks &food, cakes, breads, juices.

Why did you start this business?

My motivation is having a plate of food and seeing a smile in ones face as a result of a good plate of food.

Any challenges which you have encountered?

I have encountered many challenges in starting out which result in me procrastinating my journey as a foodie .Many took me for granted, some say you are family so as not to charge, other even wanted to make good profits through me cooking in the catering business.

What do you want to achieve in 5 years time?

5 yearrs from now I see myself owning a shop where I can offer everything in one space.

Maliha Islam

Name of Business

Pwani flava cuisines

What is your specialty?

I provide catering services for small cooperate business to large weddings. I also teach kids ages 8yrs and adults cooking, plating and knife skills in my cooking class

Why did you start this business?

I started the business because I wanted to share my knowledge and passion of cooking to those who want to learn, open up their small food kiosk, brush up their skills or my favourite learn new recipes to impress their loved ones back at their homes!

Any challenges which you have encountered?

The challenges I have are :

Financially: this is because some students pay 3/4 of the initial fees and after the classes are over, they disappear!

Lateness: some students usually come an hour late or don’t show up at all , without notifying me few hours in advance! Best reason” I overslept! ”

Long nails: it hinders anyone to knead or slice!

Most won’t remove those press on nails!

What do you want to achieve in 5 years time?

In 5years time, my dream is to provide a school where anyone with no degree /certificate can just come and learn to cook, teach all about start-ups catering services and for me to nurture their talents and open up their creativity! This is one of my goals to achieve.

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Jammy is professional communication specialist in Mombasa, founder of Life in Mombasa she has vast experience on Social Media marketing. She holds a Bachelors degree in Arts emphasis on Interpersonal communication from Metropolitan State University in Minnesota (USA). Jammy is experienced in understanding human interaction as well as creating a stronger relationship between consumers and companies.

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