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How EFSI benefits SMEs in Europe - microStart case study: Fazt African Foods (Belgium), Food and Beverage

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“I’ve been cooking since I was 10 with my mum, back in Cameroon. I think she didn’t want me to depend on a woman too much” says Fabrice Siheu, founder of Fazt African Foods. “That’s how I developed an interest in taste and spices. I love to eat and spend time in the kitchen.”

Fabrice came to Belgium to study, graduating as an industrial engineer. “I initially wanted to do medicine, but quickly realised it’s not for me. I’m more of a ‘logic’ kind of guy and engineering is a much better fit. It helps you design a product that fits a purpose, that meets a need. The kitchen is a lot like that as well. You need to adapt the product, fix it, fine-tune it, and make it meet the demand.”

With this in mind, Fabrice decided to work on the idea of offering traiteur and delivery services for African cuisine. “I wanted to play with social media and push African cuisine to new clientele, people who ordinarily don’t frequent African restaurants. There’s lots of businesses out there that are fed up of sandwich and pizza lunches. So why not offer an African cuisine alternative? There’s isn’t really a good delivery offer for African food and that’s a pity. There are so many other cuisines out there that get credit but ours doesn’t. I want to change that.”

Does this mean Fabrice will be cooking a lot? “No, no! I’m not the one cooking in this business venture - if I did the cooking, it wouldn’t work: I enjoy it too much and it would take too long!” he explains. Koti, my fiancée Dozette’s mom has a real passion for cooking. We usually brainstorm on different dishes Fazt can make and she’s always the one at the execution. She's been my partner in this activity since the beginning.”

In 2019, Fabrice launched a pilot test to see how the market would react. “The pilot test showed that there’s strong demand for African food. Most people want real, authentic African cuisine. But they also want to feel comfortable that it’s high quality, clean and safe.”

Fabrice has concluded the pilot testing of his idea with the help of an EU-guaranteed loan from microstart, backed by the EIF under the Investment Plan for Europe. “The loan helped me put the idea to the test, initially in mixed kitchens. That went very well. Now I’m finishing up the business plan, to set up in a fixed location, to equip our own kitchen and then, well, we should have lift off…” Bon appétit alors!

Company: Fazt African Foods (Belgium)

Type of business: food & beverage

EIF financing: EaSI Guarantee Financial Instrument, EFSI

Financial intermediary: microStart

For further information abiout EIF intermediaries in Belgium, please refer to: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/be

 

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