SBA Awards Minnesota Entrepreneur National Small Business Person of the Year

sba national small business person of the year award

Minnesota’s Abdirahman Kahin, CEO and owner of Afro Deli & Grill, has been named the 2023 National Small Business Person of the Year by SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman at the National Small Business Week (NSBW) awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. The prestigious award recognizes exceptional leadership and the creation of sustainable, thriving businesses in their communities. This year marks the 60th annual celebration of NSBW, which takes place from April 30-May 6 and highlights the hard work, ingenuity, and dedication of America’s small businesses and their contributions to the economy.

Afro Deli & Grill, which opened in 2014, is a fast-casual restaurant specializing in healthy, fresh African fusion cuisine. Kahin, an immigrant to the U.S. in 1996, realized his dream after attending community college and working at a media company. Despite facing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced a new location to close, Kahin pivoted the business to offer grab-n-go products. Afro Deli & Grill now supplies eight stores in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) and 15 other stores across the metro area. The business also partnered with Meals on Wheels and Minnesota Central Kitchen to provide home-delivered meals to vulnerable community members.

Throughout its journey, Afro Deli & Grill has utilized various SBA loan programs, including the 7(a) Express Loan and SBA pandemic relief. Kahin is dedicated to serving his community by participating on several boards and working towards food security and anti-hunger efforts. The business has expanded to four locations across the Twin Cities.

The National Runner-Up for the Small Business Person of the Year is Juanny Romero, CEO of Mothership Coffee. Romero’s business is the largest and longest-running first woman and minority-owned chain of independent cafes in Las Vegas. Romero managed to maintain profitability during the COVID-19 pandemic, increase staff wages, and donate to various charitable causes. She also sources coffee beans through a woman-owned coffee farming cooperative and donates to female programs in coffee-producing countries.

For small business owners, these success stories serve as inspiration and motivation to overcome challenges, innovate, and contribute to their communities. As the U.S. Small Business Administration continues to provide resources and support to entrepreneurs, the resilience and adaptability of America’s small businesses remain vital to the nation’s economic growth and recovery.

The 2023 National Small Business Week (NSBW) awards ceremony celebrates the achievements of entrepreneurs like Kahin and Romero and recognizes the importance of small businesses to the U.S. economy. As small business owners face ongoing challenges, including the Great Resignation, rising inflation, and supply chain issues, the SBA’s support, loan programs, and mentorship opportunities help them navigate these obstacles and build sustainable, thriving businesses.

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Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 16 years. A professional journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional media and online media, he attended Waynesburg University and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He has held roles of reporter, editor and publisher, having founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press.