Inspiring local women | Fadia’s story

Fadia was unemployed but had an ambition – she dreamed of starting her own African catering business to become self-employed and make money for herself and her young family. Fadia’s journey started when she started to volunteer as a cook at her local church, and then she heard about a community market to be held by The Millin Charity, so put her name forward as a possible stall holder to try out making and selling African street food at the market, and has never looked back …

A journey of a thousand miles starts with just one step …

Fadia’s inspiring success story started with the help of The Millin Charity’s Local Women Local Enterprise project – with some help to prepare for the community market, and to comply with food standards agency regulations, her first event was a huge success, fuelling her enthusiasm to give her catering business a go. She was encouraged to sign up for the Going to Market training course to learn more about selling at markets and running a business, and was helped to get her business off the ground with advice from The Millin Charity’s team that was delivered flexibly, at a time and pace that fitted around Fadia’s life as a busy mum of two pre-school children.  After another positive market stall experience she realised that her foods were not only popular, but they were not available elsewhere – people quickly started coming back for more!

Setting up a social enterprise

Fadia decided to set up her business as a social enterprise, as her passion was to really make a difference in the local community through her food. Her new social enterprise idea then got off the ground in earnest with the help of a social enterprise grant from UnLtd, enabling her to buy new equipment and ingredients to hold a market research event that provided a great opportunity to get feedback from local people on her food and ideas for her social enterprise. The event was attended by over 100 local people including Chi Onwurah, MP for Newcastle Central, who gave the new business her backing.


The amazing feedback Fadia received gave her the inspiration to get her business started in earnest. ‘Chakula’ was born (the word chakula means ‘food’ in Swahili). Chakula is a social enterprise that produces a rich and varied menu of traditional foods originating from across Africa; and, as well as making the food to sell, Fadia is passionate about Chakula teaching people in the local community to cook these foods for themselves, promoting healthy eating on a budget. Chakula is all about 3 words: Creative. Culture. Cuisine.

Ongoing learning with The Millin Charity

Fadia’s learning didn’t stop at this point. She joined The Millin Charity’s action learning project, the Women’s Trading Collective, and through volunteering for the collective she gained credits to enable her to access free Skills Sharing workshops with local female business women who shared their knowledge about publicity, branding, merchandising and pricing; and she gained a place on the Level 1 Accredited ‘Plan Your Enterprise’ training course, which gave her the skills she needed to plan her next steps and get her business really moving forward.

Branching out

Having now had experience of selling food at markets with the charity’s help, Fadia had the confidence to start branching out on her own. She had an ambition to have a street market stall at the Quayside Market in Newcastle, and she achieved that in September – 3 times! She has been overwhelmed by the positive feedback from customers, and by the crowds surrounding her stall to buy her food! We aren’t surprised – and the food tastes as good as it looks!

The next fantastic milestone came in the same month, when Chakula was invited to run community cooking sessions at a community project, teaching local people to make healthy and tasty foods at a low cost; another success story, with everyone involved saying not only had they enjoyed the sessions, but they have already recreated the recipes at home.

Ambitions for the future

Fadia’s ultimate goal is to run her own bistro / café and to continue to benefit local people through cooking sessions, but is planning to build up her business through expanding her street market activity first, to build up a loyal clientele and a strong reputation for great food before she takes the plunge. Her

“The Millin Charity has been very supportive towards me, and also very motivational. Sometimes you feel stuck as if you don’t know where you’re heading but the charity supported me to get back on track and have realistic short term and long term goals. I’m so pleased to have found out about The Millin Charity, as I could not have come this far without the support. I’m excited for the next steps!”

Shameless promotion

If you would like to try Fadia’s amazing African cooking, or you have a community group or project that you think would enjoy learning new cooking skills for preparing tasty food on a budget, get in touch.  Fadia can be found on facebook at and her tasty menu can be viewed here.

Handmade bunting for sale!

handmade crocheted bunting

We are so excited that our Women’s Trading Collective’s first range of products are now ready to buy.

Our member volunteers have worked tirelessly to produce beautifully hand crafted bunting – in both fabric and crocheted designs.

Handmade Shabby Chic Vintage Floral Bunting 2m / 9flags cotton

If you would like to support this inspiring group of women on their journey to financial independence please give your support through your purchases – you can buy the bunting on Etsy or direct from The Millin Charity.

The range includes:

Handmade fabric shabby chic penant bunting £9.50

Crocheted penant bunting in cotton in beautiful soft colours ideal for children’s bedrooms £15.00

Acrylic penant bunting to adorn your home, caravan or summer house £12.00

Pretty daisy chain bunting £4.50

Get in touch to find out more, to make your purchase or to place an order for your own personal design


Social enterprise can help you *and* the community

We’re often asked about social enterprise by local women who’d love to do something positive for the local community, but also need to earn a living. Often the realities of needing to earn a wage stops people from getting involved in social enterprise, but it really doesn’t need to. Social enterprise is the same as any business, in that it can employ people (including the business owner) – the key difference is that as well as being a business it also adds value to society in some way too, so it really is win win!

We ran a short workshop at Local Women Local Enterprise last week with the help of Acumen, to help local women to get to grips with social enterprise. Our aim was to improve awareness and understanding of social enterprise, and reveal the opportunity that it might hold, as a way to start women on their journey to financial independence.

It was a really positive event, with fantastic, enterprising ideas discussed amongst the women who participated, and loads of enthusiasm for giving back to the local area at the same time as finding a way to move away from benefits.

What’s the difference between a Charity and a social enterprise?

One of the first questions we had the chance to answer during our workshop was the difference between a Charity and a social enterprise.

A social enterprise is a business that is motivated by social objectives. Money is generated from selling a service or a product but unlike a typical business, all profits generated will go back into the business to impact the community or cause.  Social Enterprise UK use this description for a social enterprise: “Social enterprises are businesses that trade to tackle social problems, improve communities, people’s life chances, or the environment. They make their money from selling goods and services in the open market, but they reinvest their profits back into the business or the local community. And so when they profit, society profits. ”

A Charity differs as their main source of income tends to come from grants and donations. Social enterprises may also be eligible for some grants and funding support.

How can you earn an income through social enterprise?

Both social enterprises and Charities have paid and voluntary workers. By working as part of or for a social enterprise, your income will depend on your role and the hours that you work, just the same as with other companies and businesses. If you set up a social enterprise you would pay yourself a wage according to the work you’re doing, the time you’re spending and the profits you’re making.

How can a business help society?

There are 3 main models of social enterprise we talked about in our Getting to Grips with Social Enterprise workshop last week, providing us with loads of ideas about how you might set up and run a social enterprise.

  1. Selling a product or service that doesn’t have a direct social impact in itself, but the proceeds from the enterprise activity do. For example, the One Foundation sells bottles of water in shops and 100% of its profits are donated to fund water projects in Africa. (It’s probably worth pointing out again that the profits are what’s left after the salaries and other costs are covered – the people who work for the One Foundation do get paid).
  2. Undertaking a business activity that has a direct social impact, but doesn’t necessarily return all of the profit from the activity to society. For example, Divine Chocolate. Chocolate is sourced and produced fairly – the FairTrade activity is its social purpose – and profits go back into the business, and a proportion are then used to deliver community projects in Africa to empower women and children and provide education. The rest goes to the shareholders.
  3. Selling a product or service that has a positive impact on society, and where profits are also spent to benefit others. For example, Toms one for one campaign. Every time a pair of Toms shoes are sold, a pair is donated to a child who doesn’t have any shoes in Africa and South America. Toms have now expanded their activities into eyewear and coffee.

If you’d like to know more about setting up a business, to help you to make money for yourself as well as make a difference in some way to society, hopefully this may have given you a few ideas. If you’re a women in Newcastle who’d like some support to get your ideas into action, get in touch.