World-cuisine based on cultural diversity and mutual cooperation
Admin | Comune di Milano
Max Zimani is a Zimbabwean-born Slovenian citizen. With the aim of contributing to a positive change of attitude towards the migrant community in Slovenia, he founded SKUHNA, a restaurant and catering company that offers authentic dishes from Africa, Asia and South America, prepared by international chefs. Skuhna is a unique company, developed and run by people born in the countries of the global south, a place where you can get to know and taste world cuisine as well as experience cooking workshops and many interesting cultural events.
Can you please tell us how you had the idea to start your business?
The idea to launch Skuhna resulted from the interactions with other migrants in Slovenia. I strongly believe that humans have a lot of power in the field of personal culture and cuisine and the eternal curiosity to get to know and taste the dishes of other cultures carries entrepreneurial potentials. The key value, which permeates Skuhna’s whole concept, is that diversity enriches us and mutual cooperation infuses us with all-round power. The main goal of Skuhna is to combine the rich culinary knowledge of migrants from Africa, Asia and South America into a social entrepreneurial activity, targeted to fulfil the desire of the majority of Slovenian population to get to know more about the culture and traditions of different countries of the earth. The idea, which was spelled out by Teja Kuk, envisaged that the migrants would be trained in culinary work and would also be provided a platform to make their voices heard. In 2012 we received a subsidy from the MDDSZ with the aim of promoting the development of social entrepreneurship in Slovenia. The obtained financial support enabled us to safely and qualitatively develop and launch the first marketing activities of Skuhna between October 2012 and July 2015. We started with catering. The obtained profit, the extremely good team and the desire of many people to taste international dishes, took us to the point that in May 2014 we proudly opened a restaurant on Trubarjeva 56 in Ljubljana.
Can you please tell us about the main obstacles you have encountered and how you managed to overcome them?
One of the main obstacles we faced was creating a stable team. It took time and patience to finally get the right people involved. The Slovenian legal environment also represented a challenge in terms of running a proper business. We kept on learning by doing and we also sought professional assistance. Cultural and religious issues also represented a challenge for a culturally diverse team like ours. Fortunately, we always believed in the inherent strengths of our team outweigh the challenges and we engaged in dialog internally and externally on a continual basis.
Has the recent pandemic affected your business and how did you overcome the challenges?
Yes, the pandemic affected our business. We had to close at one stage. But now we are open again offering deliveries and take away services and we believe that this could be a good business opportunity.
How do you see the future of your company?
Skuhna will grow. We aim at opening more activities in the medium term. The model will be replicated in other areas and sectors that engage less privileged people.
Is there anything you would like to tell to your fellow entrepreneurs? #somethinginspirational
Keep doing the right thing! You will sleep better at night.