Celebrating Small Business: Ethiopia comes to SF SoMa

Moya’s Fana Alemayehu (right) with cousin Roman (middle) and sister Hanna (left). Credit photo: Urban Solutions

By shades Magazine staff

For entrepreneur chef Fana Alemayehu, introducing others to her native Ethiopia was important.

So she did just that with Tuesday’s, opening of Moya – a new restaurant in San Francisco’s South of Market District offering authentic, gourmet Ethiopian cuisine, which emphasizes the communal sharing of meals as way for people to come together.

The restaurant’s grand opening not only celebrated the Ethiopian culture and cuisine, it featured a demonstration of the making of injera (pronounced in-JER-ah) – a thin spongy bread served with every meal. The day also included lunch and a program of storytelling and cultural dance.

Moya – located at 1044 Folsom – is supported by the Sixth Street Economic Revitalization Program. Funded and administered by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency and managed by the nonprofit organization Urban Solutions, the program was founded in 2003. Since its inception, the program has been a catalyst for the transformation of Sixth Street and surrounding areas in San Francisco’s South of Market.

The program provides free architectural services, matching construction grants and low-cost loans for businesses and property owners to make improvements to buildings and retail spaces. Thirty new businesses have come to the project area under this program, helping to create more than 100 jobs and facilitating façade and tenant improvements on 30 buildings.

Urban Solutions helped Alemayehu – a native of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – acquire Redevelopment Agency funds to install a new floor and counters and assistance to secure contractor bids, work with the property owner on improving the storefront, determine restaurant equipment and more. Urban Solutions’ Green Business Program also is working with Moya on making the business environmentally sustainable.

Although it has been a challenging process, Alemayehu said it has been worth it.

“I want to show my three girls that if they focus on something, if they really want to do it, everything is possible,” she said. “This process took a lot of patience. That’s what I’ve learned for myself, and that’s what I taught my children.”

2 Responses to “Celebrating Small Business: Ethiopia comes to SF SoMa”

  1. Sonjhai Meggette September 1, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    Greetings, I love the magazine and all that if offers. There is definately an array of businesses that I was unfamiliar with within the Bay Area.


    Sonjhai Meggette, MSW
    Founder of Esoteric Images

    • shadesmagazine September 2, 2010 at 1:20 pm #

      Thanks much Sonjhai! We invite you to share your story ideas on women of color businesses, issues and more from around the country and to share shades with your friends!

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