SINGLE mum Dasilo Mweene is proud to be selling a taste of her homeland after setting up own business in her kitchen.
Since arriving in the Potteries from Zambia in 2006, Dasilo, above, has been making her natural chilli sauce – using a secret recipe she learned from her mother – for her friends and neighbours.
But now her small kitchen in her home in Bridgwood Road, Blythe Bridge, is catering for a wider clientele after she decided to bottle and market her own product, Mama Sabora’s Sauce.
And after beginning the process of setting up her business 18 months ago, Dasilo is getting very excited about selling something she learned from her family.
“It gives me lots of pride to be sharing my family’s product,” said the 32-year-old. “It is scary to think how far it can go, but it is still very exciting.
“My earliest memory of making the sauce was chopping onions and peppers in my mum, Prisca’s, kitchen in Zambia. She was the great cook of the family and has perfected the sauce over the years.
“But then I prepared some for friends and family over here and did a little extra for neighbours. It made me wonder if people would buy some.”
Now Dasilo, who has a three-year-old daughter Yamika, is showcasing her product at local Farmers Markets, and has recently agreed to sell a batch to Bents garden centre in Warrington for when their ethnic sauce section opens in September.
“I have been trading since April and the feedback has been very good,” she added.
“I have been speaking to a lot of places who like to use or sell local homemade produce.
“But at the moment most of my time is taken up preparing for farmers’ markets, which I am doing well at.
“But I want to get it round the local area as much as possible. At the moment it is only sold in The Strand in Longton or at a butcher’s in Meir Heath.
“I would also like to expand and create other sauces.
“I have a tomato, black pepper and garlic sauce in mind to be out by Christmas.”
The original sauce, which contains tomatoes, onions, green peppers and a secret blend of chillies and spices, comes in three levels of heat: mild, medium and hot.
Dasilo took out a low interest Government loan to fund setting up her company, while further help came from Business Enterprise Support, who mentored her through the process.
She said: “They were extremely helpful with branding and marketing and just generally getting me in the business frame of mind.
“That was all foreign to me so it was good to have someone I could call on for help and ask if I was going about things the right way.”
Her sister Nyangu, aged 19, who is visiting from Zambia, said: “I am really proud of what Dasilo has done. Who would have known what we ate as children could be put in a bottle? It had always gone from pan to plate.
“It is very nice to see our mother’s face on the bottle, and we hope it will go very far. I will be helping out as much as I can.
“Our mother loves the idea too and she finds it very moving Dasilo has put the effort into selling the sauce. She loves her face on the front too.”
John Webbe, operations manager for BES, explained there were six team members in North Staffordshire helping local residents get their business off the ground.
Four cover Stoke-on-Trent, while one each works in Newcastle and the Staffordshire Moorlands.
He added: “What we offer is very much a hand-holding service to help clients like Dasilo find their way through things like business research, planning and start up. We help to get them trading and support them for an initial six to 12 months.
“This project is funded by Stoke-on-Trent City Council using the European Regional Growth Fund, and already we have exceeded our expectations in helping around 377 local people set up their own business.”
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