Home Greater Manchester Bolton couple start smart with inclusive catering business

Bolton couple start smart with inclusive catering business

(L-R) Farah and Ishfaq Vaja with Lord Mayor Cllr June Hitchin

A couple from Bolton has received support from GC Business Growth Hub’s start-up programme to set up a catering business to better serve the dietary desires of the region.

Worried about the dramatic increase in the UK’s obesity levels, NHS diabetes prevention specialists Ishfaq and Farah Vaja set up their business, Eat with Farah, after Farah felt the range of healthy food options available in Greater Manchester only catered for extreme ends of the dietary spectrum. 

Eat with Farahaims to change the way people of Greater Manchester eat by providing a new, healthy, fast food range for workers, along with pre-prepared meals to eat at home and event catering.

The couple initially attended a self-employment awareness session provided by GC Business Growth Hub’s Start Smart programme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and delivered in partnership with PeoplePlus. Business advisor Martyn Walsh then helped Ishfaq and Farah to develop a solid

business plan, allowing them to access a start-up grant via Manchester Youth Market. This helped them to set up a market stall and pay for equipment and merchandising.

Martyn also helped to develop a marketing strategy to build awareness among the business community in Manchester, and point of sale initiatives to drive customer awareness and generating cross-sales opportunities for the company’s product range.

Finally, the Start Smart programme introduced the couple to the National Market Traders Federation. As a member, Eat With Farah was shortlisted both regionally and nationally for a youth market competition, which helped to build awareness of the business and increase its customer base.

Farah Vaja, co-founder of Eat With Farah, said: “I recognised that there was a gap in the market to change perceptions on healthy eating and therefore created an exciting healthy fast food range which caters for all dietary requirements.

“Martyn from the Hub has been fantastic in helping Ishfaq and I to make our business idea a reality, and we really appreciate the continuous support he has given us.”

Janine Richardson, self-employment project manager from GC Business Growth Hub, said: “One of the aims of the Hub is to help start-up and young businesses to get off the ground and thrive.

“Farah had the foresight to see that there was a customer base around Manchester that wasn’t being served, and the will to fill this gap in the market. Importantly, she and her husband realised there were aspects of setting up a business that they needed support with, and that’s where we were able to support them. We wish them all the best as they now start to build the business.”