Maryam Chaanda and Mariam Mohammed

Both Maryam and Mariam are from Nigeria, West Africa. When they arrived in the UK with their husbands, they both had science degrees but their main passion was cooking Nigerian food for their families and communities. At first they cooked for others for free, “We wanted to start a Nigerian cooking business, but we had no idea of how to go about it. We needed some business support to help us get started, so we searched online to find a mentor, but in the end, one of my husband’s business contacts, who supports British minority people, connected us to the the AWE Making a Difference programme in Plymouth.”

Maryam and Mariam

As Maryam explains, “Being able to participate on the AWE Making a Difference programme was a life-changing experience. It was brilliant and we both looked forward to it each week – it really helped us focus on the practical elements of business. It taught us a lot about the importance of creating a powerful vision and mission, while being clear on our values as well. The business planning session was absolutely brilliant too!”

One of the most enjoyable elements of the programme for Maryam and Mariam was, however, the fact that it was designed exclusively for women and they were able to share their success with other women in the group. “Without this support, we would have given up,” they said. Since completing the AWE programme, life has still been challenging due to the global restrictions caused by the Coronavirus lockdown,” but, as Maryam explained, “Although we have experienced challenges, life will never be the same because we have learnt so much. We now have a very clear plan about what we need to do to make our Nigerian cooking business a reality!”