When all else fails: Saudi woman finds catering business lucrative
A young Saudi woman is making waves in the restaurant industry with a business that makes SR200,000 a month.
Nourah has a degree in Islamic studies but her hobby is cooking.
She said she can cook all different Arabic and international meals.
She said: “I had the idea of starting a home-catering business and was encouraged by my family, friends and neighbors.”
Nourah began her small project with the help and encouragement of her husband and started by making desserts and other appetizers for weddings and large parties.
She got her big break when a hospital asked her to provide 100 meals a day for breakfast and lunch.
She said: “I was stunned and began crying, as I did not believe that I could meet that request.
“However, with my husband’s assistance I was able to fulfill the hospital’s request, and it was my starting point.”
Nourah decided to open a restaurant so she could cater for weddings, schools and hospitals and did not receive any funding from banks or other lenders. She said her only obstacle was when she could not obtain visas from the labor office.
The office’s conditions were difficult to meet, she said, especially as she could not provide any financial guarantees.
She is proud that she was among the first Saudi women to own and manage restaurants in the Kingdom and believes she has reached a stage where she can compete with large catering companies.
Nourah said she only uses good quality ingredients and is proud of the nickname that people now refer to her as, Chef Nourah.
She said she is continuously receiving encouragement from her customers and is grateful for the income her business generates, but is not currently planning any new branches.
“I would like to first feel completely comfortable running my Jeddah restaurant, which is only two years old.”
She encouraged other women to work in this sector.
Nourah urged the Ministry of Labor and local chambers of commerce to facilitate procedures for Saudi women and help them to set up their own businesses.