April 30, 2024

Seed Award Spotlight: Baobab Fare

In our “Seed Award Spotlight” series, we asked our inaugural Seed Award winners about their…


A man with short curly hair and a goatee smiles warmly. He is wearing large dark-rimmed glasses and a pink checkered button-up shirt. The background is blurred greenery, suggesting an outdoor setting.

Hamissi Mamba, owner of Baobab Fare in Detroit, Michigan.Image of a plate of beans, rice and plantains.In our “Seed Award Spotlight” series, we asked our inaugural Seed Award winners about their experience as a food or farm entrepreneur, including the passion behind their business, and what motivates them to do the work they do every day. In early 2024, 

11 Seed Award winners were chosen to receive seed funding totaling almost $150,000, based on their businesses’ commitment to promoting racial equity, enhancing healthy food access, fostering job creation, and embracing resilient climate practices. 

This spotlight shines brightly on Baobab Fare, a Detroit-based restaurant and 2024 James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurateur. Founded by Hamissi Mamba and Nadia Nijimbere, asylum-seeking refugees from Burundi, Baobab Fare not only offers a menu rich with East African flavors but also serves as a cultural hub. With the award, they plan to expand their product line, boost marketing efforts, and further develop their team. 

Keep reading to learn more about Baobab Fare and the stories they share through East African cuisine, community, and culture. 

What does being selected as a Seed Award winner mean to you personally, and how does it reflect on the journey of your business so far? 

It means a lot. We came to this country as refugees without any assets or money, and community support has been what made Baobab Fare and its affiliated brands possible. Especially now with bank interest rates being so high, to get this kind of support for a small business is a very big deal. We are honored and humbled.  

In what ways will the Seed Award funding support your immediate and long-term business goals?  

This is coming at the right moment, especially as we are moving the production of our Soko packaged beverages from New York to Michigan. This award is helping us grow that side of the business and share more of our food with people in Michigan while doing more business in the state. 

Can you share your vision for the positive changes this award will enable you to make in your business and the broader community? 

This is helping us to amplify our voice to tell the story to reach more people. If you don’t have money to buy inventory, you can’t reach a larger community. Our margins are tight and this will give us the room we need to help us launch new products to the market, helping us move away from Coca Cola toward our own recipe of carbonated fruit and tea-based drinks all made in Michigan. 

What led you to start your business? What motivates you to do what you do? 

As refugees, we couldn’t find ourselves represented in the market. Our food wasn’t here. You can complain, or you can change it. So we now have a responsibility to do something about it, and Baobab Fare is the means for how we do it.  

Want to try Baobab Fare? Visit their website to find their Detroit location or view online ordering options. Be sure to follow them on Instagram and Facebook. 

Interested in working with the Michigan Good Food Fund? See if your business is a good fit here.

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