Hackney Restaurant Wins Grant Supporting Black-Owned Eateries

Image source, Enterprise Nation

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Karis Theophane says her jerk chicken restaurant has a “social mission”

An entrepreneur who started a jerk chicken restaurant from her mum’s kitchen is among 13 London businesses to be win a share of £250,000.

Karis Theophane, the founder of Jerk Grill, started her venture in 2018 and has kept growing, despite the pandemic and her food truck being stolen.

Jerk Grill was among almost 1,000 other businesses to apply for the fund which supports black business owners.

Ms Theophane said the eatery was a “community anchor”.

“We have definitely outgrown Mum’s kitchen,” she said. “We are […] providing jobs for disadvantaged people and a place for people from all walks of life to gather.”

Ms Theophane said she had been operating out of a cafe in Pembury Community Centre in Hackney and had been providing employment for disadvantaged members of the local community.

She plans to open a dedicated jerk chicken restaurant in Clapton later this month.

“Providing a space like this can be an inspiration to the local community,” she said. “Empowering people to build an equitable future, be more confident and have a positive impact in society.”

Alongside the £10,000 grant, Ms Theophane has invested family savings into the new location.

‘Social mission’

She added: “Our new forever home also enables us to create five new jobs immediately as we continue to grow.”

The business, she said, will continue in its “social mission” of reducing food poverty and social isolation.

The Black Business Fund, set up by Uber Eats and run by Enterprise Nation, sees £250,000 distributed to 25 small black-owned businesses across the country.

According to government data about 6% of small and medium enterprises (SME) are ethnic-minority-led.

Lorraine Copes, founder of Be Inclusive hospitality and judge for the 2024 fund, said: “It fills me with optimism for the future of hospitality as I discover the diverse array of founders who entered the industry out of a genuine love for hospitality and food.

“Unfortunately, uncertainty appears to be following us into 2024, and I am pleased that this fund will offer a much-needed boost for black entrepreneurs.”

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