WASHINGTON – SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, the voice in President Biden’s Cabinet for America’s over 33 million small businesses, has named Abdirahman Kahin of Afro Deli & Grill in Minnesota as the National Small Business Person of the Year for 2023 at the National Small Business Week (NSBW) awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. This prestigious award recognizes entrepreneurs who demonstrate exceptional leadership and create sustainable, thriving businesses in their communities. This annual tradition, led by the U.S. Small Business Administration for 60 years, takes place from April 30-May 6. During NSBW, the SBA recognizes the hard work, ingenuity, and dedication of America’s small businesses and celebrates their contributions to the economy.
“Our National Small Business Week honorees reflect the strength of our Nation’s entrepreneurial spirit — a spirit of problem-solving, ingenuity, and pure grit. This week we shine a spotlight on the impact they make on our communities and economy from Main Streets to innovation hubs and manufacturing centers. Our 2023 National Small Business Person of the Year, Minnesota’s Abdirahman Kahin, CEO and owner of Afro Deli & Grill, reflects the best of American entrepreneurship,” said Administrator Guzman. “Abdirahman has pursued the American dream of business ownership — overcoming challenges, launching multiple food businesses, pivoting during COVID, and lifting local neighborhoods along the way. He combines great ideas with hard work and diligence, and we are honored that SBA has been a part of his successful and ongoing journey.”
Administrator Guzman also recognized state and territory award winners and industry leaders for their excellence in entrepreneurial development, exporting, federal contracting, lending, and disaster recovery.
Abdirahman Kahin, CEO and Owner, Afro Deli & Grill, St. Paul, MN
Afro Deli & Grill opened in 2014 as a fast-casual restaurant focused on healthy, fresh African fusion cuisine. An immigrant to the U.S. in 1996, Kahin realized his dream after attending community college and working at a media company.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced a new location to close, but the business pivoted to 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 secured a contract and partnered with Meals on Wheels and Minnesota Central Kitchen to provide home-delivered meals to vulnerable community members.
Since its inception, Afro Deli & Grill has utilized numerous SBA loan programs, including the 7(a) Express Loan and SBA pandemic relief. Kahin is a committed community member serving on several boards and is passionate about furthering 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 of Mothership Coffee.
“I’m also honored to recognize the Runner-Up for the 2023 Small Business Person of the Year: Juanny Romero, CEO of Mothership Coffee which operates multiple cafes and a coffee roasting business in Nevada with goals to expand this year,” said Administrator Guzman. “Juanny opened her first café and grew the Mothership brand by learning every angle and job — she was her company’s first and only barista and now employs and manages a team of more than 50 employees. Juanny, an incredible SBA success story, reminds us that when we power entrepreneurs to overcome barriers, they create jobs and build community to advance our Nation and economy.”
Juanny Romero, CEO, Mothership Coffee, Las Vegas, NV
Romero’s Mothership Coffee is the largest and longest-running first woman and minority-owned chain of independent cafes in Las Vegas. Opening her first cafe in the Great Recession of 2008, she grew her business with grit and ingenuity, serving as its first barista, learning online marketing, and providing exceptional customer service.
Today, Romero manages 53 employees and has three cafes, with two more planned in 2023. The SBA’s Emerging Leaders Program and SCORE mentorship gave her the tools necessary to combat the Great Resignation, rising inflation, and supply chain issues.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, she maintained her business’s profitability, kept prices the same, increased staff wages, donated coffee to a homeless field hospital, created a charity coffee bag program to benefit first responders, and started a coffee bartering program featured on national news outlets. Romero believes in giving back to others. She buys coffee beans through a woman-owned coffee farming cooperative and donates to female programs in coffee-producing countries. Romero also supports dozens of local community charities.
For more information on other National Small Business Week events, visit www.sba.gov/NSBW.
Co-sponsorship Authorization# 23-1-C The SBA’s participation in this cosponsored activity is not an endorsement of the views, opinions, products or services of any cosponsor or other person or entity. All SBA programs and services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis.
About National Small Business Week
For 60 years, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation announcing National Small Business Week, recognizing the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business and create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories. Every day, they’re working to grow small businesses, create 21st-century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America’s global competitiveness. And in recognizing the changing face of America, the SBA’s National Small Business Week awards honor individuals and businesses that reflect our nation’s rich diversity.
About the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration helps power the American dream of business ownership. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow, expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.