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Maryam - Harlem Catering Business

Mother of Five Works with CDFI to Expand Catering Business in Harlem

Financial and Social Impact

Expanded home-based food business to commercial kitchen 

As a mother of five daughters, Maryam often baked cakes and cookies for school events. When the school’s principal was eager to pay for her services, Maryam was encouraged to turn her passion for food into a small business.  

After graduating from culinary school in 2009, she launched her own food business, Maryam’s YumYum, from her family’s kitchen in Harlem. Family recipes such as her grandmother’s popular waffles inspired her early offerings, which she would sell to friends and family, as well as at small events in her community.  

Through loans she received from Grameen America totaling $4,000, Maryam was able to expand into a full-service catering business. Starting with her first loan of $1,500 in September 2018, Maryam invested in additional food offerings and a new website that allowed her to reach new clients and streamline her ordering processes.  

Since joining Grameen America, Maryam’s credit has improved, where previously she did not have a credit rating. She has also moved from cooking in her kitchen to utilizing a commercial kitchen at Hot Bread Kitchen, which has allowed her to cater larger events in her community. Maryam believes that her entrepreneurial goals have made her a better role model to her daughters.   

She states, “Being an entrepreneur is hard. Being a mom and an entrepreneur at the same time is difficult. But having a network of other women business owners helps reinforce what I am doing and encourages my next steps.” 

Maryam also appreciates the support she receives from other small business owners she has met through the program. “Not only are you able to access funds for your business to grow, but you also have a network of women behind you to support you,” she says.

Maryam holds the program’s weekly center meetings at her home in Harlem, where women gather for peer support and loan repayments. In the future, Maryam dreams of owning a storefront to connect more personally with her customers, and to teach cooking classes to both children and adults with a budding interest in food. 

Photo: Grameen America