Black Entrepreneur Spotlight Series
We would greatly appreciate it if you could tell us a little about your company.
When my wife and I moved to New York from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I wanted to start a business that brought something positive from my country. Most people in the US think about droughts and famines when they think of Ethiopia, but it is also a beautiful country with a very rich culture and history – and it’s the birthplace of coffee!
We are very proud of our coffee and it is part of daily social life. I wanted to bring a taste of that here to New York, and we started Buunni Coffee in 2011. First, we did community events and local markets in our neighborhood of Washington Heights, we opened our own small shop in 2012.
Now we provide wholesale, organic, fresh-roasted Ethiopian coffee to other restaurants and cafes and have just opened our second coffee shop. Our third location is under construction. Buunni has been a labor of love.
What was your child hood aspirations?
I used to get in trouble for taking things apart. The radio, clock and my dad’s watch. Anything I could get my hands on, I wanted to take it apart, understand how it worked and put it back together again. So, from childhood I’ve liked fixing things, and working with my hands. Now at Buunni, I love to work on the equipment. Fixing things is my form of relaxation.
Can you give our readers a quick answer on business advice?
Listen to everyone’s opinion but do only what you, yourself feel is right.
What was your toughest challenge?
Getting started in a new place without a network or connections. Learning how things work in a place and culture.