MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — “Hoyo” is the Somali word for “mother.”
“Hoyo” is also the name of a startup that is catching the attention of food lovers all over the Twin Cities.
Mariam Mohamed of Shoreview heads up a kitchen operation in full swing in Bloomington.
“Sambusa is not easy to make, it’s hard to make, it’s time consuming,” Mariam said.
And they are taking the time, to do it right, from scratch. They make a dough carefully, form it into the proper shape and stuff it full of beef or lentils, garlic, cumin and fresh onions.
“Sambusa is something every Somali woman knows how to make,” Mariam said. “Given that, we thought we should hire them for a job that they don’t need to speak English, they don’t need to learn, and they’re having fun.”
Mariam came up with the idea, and her friend, restaurant consultant Matt Glover, helped found Hoyo.
“We have a ton of Somali neighbors and one thing is we got to try a lot of their food, and get to meet them, and thought, “These [sambusas] are amazing and they’re such good cooks.”
Mariam says the food is the focal point, but the chefs are the heart of the operation. She says it can be hard for Somali women who do not speak English and wear hijabs to find work. Mariam pays her team $15 an hour.
There is one stumbling block to growth here. The ladies have access to the kitchen two days a week — but they would be able to churn out the delicious sambusas at a much higher rate.
They are selling products online and in co-ops all over the Twin Cities, and they will keep working with the skill and will of a mother.
“My hope is to see this company hiring all kinds of women and growing and growing,” she said. “And we’ll be in many stores that will love our food because every store, every person who tastes sambusa loves it.”
The founders of Hoyo originally thought their customer base would be in the Somali community, but the sambusas have been a hit in co-ops all around the Twin Cities.