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Minnesota’s own Abdirahman Kahin of Afro Deli & Grill was named the National Small Business Person of the Year for 2023 at an awards ceremony Monday in Washington, D.C.
This prestigious award recognizes entrepreneurs who demonstrate exceptional leadership and create sustainable, thriving businesses in their communities, according to a news release from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“Our 2023 National Small Business Person of the Year, Minnesota’s Abdirahman Kahin, CEO and owner of Afro Deli & Grill, reflects the best of American entrepreneurship,” the group’s administrator, Isabella Casillas Guzman, said in the release. “Abdirahman has pursued the American dream of business ownership—overcoming challenges, launching multiple food businesses, pivoting during COVID, and lifting local neighborhoods along the way. He combines great ideas with hard work and diligence, and we are honored that SBA has been a part of his successful and ongoing journey.”
The award is given during National Small Business Week, led by the U.S. Small Business Administration for 60 years, from April 30 to May 6. During the week, the SBA recognizes the hard work, ingenuity, and dedication of America’s small businesses and celebrates their contributions to the economy, according to the release.
Kahin was named the Minnesota Small Business Person of the Year earlier this year, qualifying him to compete with others from across the country for the national title.
Kahin opened Afro Deli & Grill in 2014 as a fast-casual restaurant focused on healthy, fresh African fusion cuisine. An immigrant to the U.S. in 1996, Kahin realized his dream after attending community college and working at a media company.
The business has expanded to four locations across the Twin Cities.
The small restaurant empire started off as Abdirahman’s desire to fill a gap in the Twin Cities food scene. He wanted to share the tastes of Africa, and got his start in 2010 with the opening of the restaurant’s first location in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.
“The food scene representation was, you know, very slim,” Abdirahman told Sahan Journal in March when he received the state title. “So, I saw an opportunity even though I’m not a chef, but I had that idea.”
The restaurants offer Somali steak sandwiches, chicken curry, and gyros, among other foods. They also have “Grab N’ Go” options at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
The business is looking to expand across the state and eventually the country, according to Abdirahman. He said he wants Afro Deli to become the first national African restaurant chain in the United States.