This African cuisine pop-up business won a $100,000 Hatch Detroit grant

The owner of a pop-up food business that brings a taste of West Africa, and Liberia, specifically, to Detroit has gotten a major boost towards her goal to open a restaurant in the city.

Thursday night in TechTown, chef and entrepreneur Ameneh Marhaba was named the winner of $100,000 in the weeks-long Hatch Detroit contest. In an emotional, passionate pitch to a panel of judges, she told her story of recently losing her father, who brought his family to the United States from post-war Liberia for a chance at a better life.

“Also, my mom taught me a lot about not forgetting where I came from, not forgetting about my culture and not forgetting about where my roots are,” Marhaba said. “I wanted to bring a little bit of that Liberian spirit to Detroit, so I started the pop-up business.”

She not only wins twice the money the Hatch winners have gotten over the past decade, but also thousands of dollars in pro bono professional support from Hatch Detroit and its partners, including Comerica Bank. Marhaba and the other four finalists made it this far by getting votes from the public. Little Liberia was chosen Thursday evening by a panel of judges that included Hatch alumni and others in the business community.

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