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How I funded my Masters became the start of my business

Thought Leader

How I funded my Masters became the start of my business

It’s Ghana be tasty – after popping up outside her front door, in the living room and alongside her Master’s, Zoe ended up turning a look at her heritage into a business.

Zoe Ghana Kitchen.jpg

Name           Zoe Adjonyoh
Business      Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen


Using my table top stove and foldable table outside my front door, I sold my favourite childhood dish ‘Peanut Butter Stew’ during the 2010 Hackney Wicked Arts Festival.


I did it for fun. Back then Hackney Wick was starved of places to eat out and I wanted to add some of the Ghanaian spice that had been used throughout my childhood to London. I grew up in London after a few years as a toddler in Ghana, so it was also a chance for me to explore this side of my heritage. The stall ended up being a huge success, so the following year I transformed my flat into a restaurant for the festival and a chance to earn some extra money.


I did 4 days altogether, and I sold out every day. People kept asking me when they could next book in, so I started to collect email addresses and build up a following. Everything was coming through referral and recommendation I couldn’t waste the attention I was getting, so I ran some more pop-ups part time to fund myself through my Master’s degree at Goldsmiths.


Turning it into a business


After gaining some press from my pop-ups and a few longer term residencies, I had the chance to do a supper club in Berlin – and I went for it. Ghanaian food is a very niche market in both Berlin and London, meaning my food stood out. I came back and lined up clients such as Eden and Diesel to cater for. After landing such huge successes and my Master’s finishing, I decided to go full time and really define what Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen would be about. I’d never envisioned it becoming a business, but everything led into it.


I felt super ambitious for the company. I would say yes to every opportunity, whether I knew if I could do it or not - I’d learn in the process. I thought this would mean the business would grow into different areas very quickly, but I took on more work than I could handle alone.


Learning how to manage that growth has been the most challenging part. You need to know when to say no, and focus on your long term goals.


But opening a small restaurant in Brixton with a short lease gave me the launch pad to experience everything a restaurant needs, from managing a growing team to rolling out a niche food.


What’s next?


It’s been a great success so far, and most importantly gave me the confidence to go out and expand into new sites. The next big news for us is that on 20 April I have a cookbook coming out.


Over the last 7 years from starting as a bit of fun, then a side project, the business has come a long way. Any experience from which you can learn something useful to head towards your goals is a route to success. And I’ll continue to celebrate Ghanaian food and culture through food in the rest of my 5 year plan.


Watch this space.