Weekender

Food for the soul

Written By : Source: FIJI DEVELOPMENT BANK. Food or chocolate is often the quintessential embodiment of comfort for many women seeking refuge or a time out from the conundrum that
19 Nov 2010 12:00

image Written By : Source: FIJI DEVELOPMENT BANK. Food or chocolate is often the quintessential embodiment of comfort for many women seeking refuge or a time out from the conundrum that life has a habit of visiting every so often.
In the words of Virginia Woolf, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”.
If anyone would know the value of food, it would be this feminist author, who in her lifetime battled depression, an illness that finally claimed her life.
It was in food, that Farida Bano, now 54, found her solace – not as a means for soothing away her troubles, but rather as an offering to others so that they may eat and leave sated to think, love and sleep well.
In doing this, she also found a means of supporting her young family because it was the only thing she knew how to do and do well.
“From 1988 to 1996 I ran Phoenix Restaurant with my husband until he and I separated. I was left with only $200 and two young children to support,” she said.
Not to be deterred, Farida thought fast, of food and decided to persevere regardless of the personal and financial difficulties she was facing at the time.
“To start over, I used that $200 to open up a small eatery in Nadi
Town which was called Farida’s Fast Food which I ran until 1999 when a fire burnt down my restaurant and I lost everything,” she said.
With two traumatic events in her life happening so close to each other, anyone with lesser mettle would have just thrown their hands up and said, “I give up!” but not Farida.
Instead, she picked herself up like the proverbial Phoenix from the ashes of her restaurant and walked into the Fiji Development Bank’s Nadi Branch and boldly put forward an application for a loan. She would start over, she decided.
The first application to the Bank did not pan out but this is Farida and she does not give up.
She came back a year later and was successful in her application to the FDB’s Small Business Scheme.
FDB’s Small Business Scheme is designed for any entrepreneur starting out or is already has a business in operation.
The purpose of this facility is help the applicant purchase or establish a business including the purchase or construction of buildings, equity investment, purchase of plant and equipment including motor vehicles, provision of working capital and the acquisition of shares.
There is no maximum ceiling for this facility but can only be used by businesses with a turnover of up to $100,000.
With her SBS loan, Farida bought Chicken Bites, situated on the Namaka shopping strip in 2000.
“This was a very small restaurant when I started out and many people would remember this,” she said.
“Then in 2006, I bought out the business next to me for $15,000 and expanded my restaurant to what it is today.”
The spatial eatery is tastefully fitted out with coolers, counters, tables and chairs which make people feel welcome.
The cakes in the coolers, the unending coils of jelebi on the counter and even the menu on the blackboard make the eyeballs and waistline bulge at the same time.
The tables are never empty even outside the peak eating times.
This is where people come to get food for the soul.
She was with her elderly mother at one of the tables and enjoying a late lunch when we caught up with her.
She could have been mistaken for another customer or a housewife, not the plucky businesswoman or the soul food specialist who survived a divorce, a burned out restaurant, raised two children on her own and now runs a successful eatery in Namaka.
Farida’s dress consists of traditional Muslim wear of a head scarf and salwaar kameez.
With her hard work, Farida has managed to send her daughter to Otago University in New Zealand where she has since graduated as a pharmacist.
Her son now has a family of his own and lives in Sabeto.
For Farida, she finally gets to enjoy having her cake and eating it too.



Laybuy it 5squares


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