Somali Street Food Cafe opens thanks to Brotherhood of St Laurence’s small business program

Picture: Sarah Matray

SHARIFA Abiikar never planned to open a cafe.

The Glenroy woman signed up for the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s small business program in the hope of setting up a social club for Somali women.

But that all changed the day she brought in lunch to share with the group.

“They loved my food and gave me great feedback. Many of the women even offered to be my business partners in a cafe,” Ms Abiikar said.

A year on, Ms Abiikar is the proud owner and head chef at Glenroy’s Somali Street Food Cafe, which has hungry customers traipsing across Melbourne for a taste of authentic African cuisine.

Ms Abiikar said she could not have done it without the Brotherhood’s Stepping Stones to Small Business program.

“I have always been business minded but I didn’t know where to start. I used to think there was a lot of preparation and you needed a lot of capital,” Ms Abiikar said.

“But they taught me how to start with the basics. You don’t need a lot of capital, you just need an idea.”

Ms Abiikar said while her main customers were fellow Somali-Australians eager to try food that tasted like home, interest was spreading.

“We are the only Somalian food in this area but our customers are not only Somali, they are very multicultural,” she said.

The Stepping Stones program recently celebrated 60 years of service to people from refugee and migrant backgrounds.

They marked the occasion with the launch of Opening Doors, a book celebrating the group’s long history of community engagement which features Ms Abiikar on the cover.

Executive director Tony Nicholson said the book reflected a changing country.

“In its modest way, this publication offers a mirror to the progress of our diverse nation with its rich waves of migration and refugee settlement that have greatly enhanced our society,” he said.

Somali Street Food Cafe is at 84 Wheatsheaf Rd, Glenroy.

Source: Leader Community News

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