EWI Legacy Stories Project Episode #9 features gourmet chef entrepreneur and EWI alumna Aida Mady. Born in Cairo, Egypt, Aida immigrated to Northern Virginia in 1981. She launched her business, Cooking and Beyond, in 2012 with the help of business training and mentoring from Empowered Women International (EWI). She shares authentic Egyptian cuisine and culture through her food and work.
Aida didn’t set out to become an entrepreneur. Her passion for cooking grew by her mother’s side in the family kitchen. The youngest of eight, she loved cooking and making treats for her family, friends, and the whole neighborhood. She brought her culture of sharing food when she immigrated to the US. It was her way to share bring Egypt to America. Her neighbors loved it. She shares, “It comes with love. It comes with passion – the good food. And they loved everything!”
Her community encouraged her to start a food business, but it was not Aida’s priority. She liked volunteering and began bringing food to fundraising and non-profit events. That was her first introduction to Empowered Women International.
“When I first joined EWI, I went in as a board member, not as a ETS student,” Aida remembers. She enrolled in the Entrepreneur Training for Success program as a study case. She had no business plan or idea, just a passion for food. The goal was to participate in EWI’s Entrepreneur Training for Success program and see how EWI could best serve women entrepreneurs.
Cooking and Beyond was EWI’s first food-related business. The business paved the way for other food entrepreneurs in the program. Aida says, “Food in the states is a totally different story…It’s very very strict. It was very hard, but for me, I wanted to do it for others. After that, we started to have people in food.” EWI supported Aida in securing a commercial kitchen and introduced her to stores to carry her product. After the ETS program, she continued to develop with EWI’s Grow My Business program. AIda has sold her products in grocery stores and cafes, catered events, held food workshops at the Smithsonian, and even published a book!
The best thing about EWI according to Aida?
“The good thing about EWI is that it helps women. It gives them confidence.” EWI helps women turn their talents into economically viable businesses and gain confidence to become entrepreneurs.
Watch Aida’s interview to learn more about her experience starting a food business and how EWI supported her as an entrepreneur!
You can find Aida and Cooking and Beyond at: