Story of a Kenyan woman who runs a successful American restaurant

For many people, losing a job in a foreign country is one of the most unimaginable things. It’s a recipe for chaos and can lead to depression.

This is what happened to Mumbi Baskin in 2010, who was working in Texas, USA at the time.

However, for her, it was a defining moment, a time to self-evaluate, get up, dust herself off, and pick up the pieces.

Mumbi embarked on a journey to do what she loved the most: cooking. She created the African Fusion restaurant in Dallas, Texas.

Mumbi’s customers enjoy a meal at its restaurant.

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In his interview with Alex Chamwada about his Dare abroad program, Mumbi shared that she developed a love for cooking different dishes at a tender age.

She explained that after losing her job, she started selling it from a vehicle and many people asked her to start a restaurant.

To his surprise, the demand was very high. In two weeks, she was delivering 100 plates a day.

“I had to figure out what to do, so I started cooking because I had all the time and I loved doing it. I would then sell the food from my vehicle. Then my friends encouraged me to open a restaurant because I was such a good cook,” said the entrepreneur.

Explaining the choice of name, Mumbi shared that she chose African Fusion because it crosses the African continent and serves cuisine from all over.

“We infused different types of African cuisine, including some dishes from Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana, South Africa and East Africa.”

His first step was to identify a space in Texas and ensure it was easily accessible to most Kenyans living in and visiting the area.

Starting the restaurant was initially difficult due to the nature of the regulations imposed on such businesses by the United States government. Sourcing ingredients was also a challenge she faced.

“There are a lot of things that we really take for granted at home because we just do them the way we want to, but everything here is regulated. Even looking for ingredients was no walk in the park, and it still isn’t,” added Mumbi.

The entrepreneur explains that nyama choma (roasted meat) is the most popular menu as it crosses the entire African continent.

His company now has 22 employees and outdoor catering accounts for 30% of turnover, with Africans calling on his services at various events.

“We do graduations, weddings, ruracios (dowry payment ceremonies), golf tournaments and many other traditional events to provide people with the good food they will remember at home,” she said.

Although she has been abroad for more than two decades, she continues to help those less fortunate. “I work with a group in Eldoret to provide medical equipment like wheelchairs, hospital beds and other supplies to the needy,” she noted.

She advises Kenyans wishing to set up businesses abroad not to take shortcuts and to comply with the laws and regulations governing specific countries and states.

Mumbi first traveled to the United States in 1998 to attend a conference on women and leadership, after which she never returned.  Being a first time in the United States, she was lucky enough to get her first job as a loan collector.

A front view of Mumbi’s restaurant in Dallas, Texas

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