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 https://www.facebook.com/CHAKULACUISINE/ and her tasty menu can be viewed here.