Ever since she was a young girl, Aidy Raju has loved to cook, and has always dreamed of owning her own shop. Looking for a new source of income to support her mother and son, Aidy decided to put her cooking skills into action and start her own catering company. Although she didn’t have the capital to launch a formal enterprise, she took small steps and started Aidy’s Good Food in 2014 from her home. After making her first sale of 30 hot dogs she steadily began to build her client base.
When Aidy joined the Mentoring Women in Business Programme in May 2015, she didn’t have any formal business training and was looking for support to efficiently structure her business and find ways to grow it.
Through a partnership with Bank of America, Aidy was matched with Ileana Musa, a Client and Strategy Executive at Bank of America in the United States. Ileana has experience in business planning, sales and communications, and was an ideal match for Aidy. Bank of America has been a pivotal partner in the development of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s Mentoring Programme, which has now enabled over 2,500 women entrepreneurs to access personalised support through 1:1 mentoring and an online support and learning platform.
The pair quickly developed a strong relationship as they worked together to achieve Aidy’s goals. Ileana supported Aidy as she carried out market research to identify existing businesses in the sector, determine her competitive advantage, and position her company accordingly. They developed her business plan and created a marketing strategy to attract new corporate clients, whilst also discussing delegation and management techniques.
Now, less than two years later, Aidy’s company offers all types of cuisine and includes everything from wedding cakes to food platters. She is now catering multiple corporate events per month, as well as weddings, school events and other small functions. Her revenue has increased tenfold and she has hired an employee to help her with food preparation. As her sales increase, Aidy invests her profits back into her business and is working towards a range of health and safety certifications to help her formalise and grow her company.
Alongside gaining confidence in her own abilities, Aidy also learned key management and ICT skills through working with Ileana. Aidy said, “Before I started the programme, I felt like somebody who was learning to read for the first time. I was unsure of myself and having goals like a business plan seemed like a mountain. Ileana has taught me so much.”
Ileana said it’s been an honour and privilege to work with Aidy and she emphasised how much she has learned as a mentor, including gaining knowledge of a new culture and market, developing communication skills and building her own confidence.
Looking to the future, Aidy is keen to move into proper premises to grow her business and become a leader in the food industry.