Ahmed Abbas had just woken up from a short nap. He had been pulling extra shifts making bread at night while his head baker was in Iraq visiting family, all the while still overseeing two locations and training new employees for his staff of 8 during the day. The lack of sleep was real and he wanted to stay sharp.
Quality, Ahmed reiterated several times, was the key to his success. “We are the best of the best of the Middle East,” gesturing to the assortments of breads, hot foods, salads and spreads in his Portland headquarters.
“Customers started coming because they recognized the quality of the food and the friendliness of the staff.” Their positive reputation, he said, was built up slowly, but firmly.
Ahmed learned the food industry from the ground up. Originally an employee of the business, then known as Tandoor Bread, Ahmed credits the previous owner, Audai Naser, with teaching him the art of clay-oven breadmaking, a new field for the former electrical engineer. Ahmed embraced his new direction and when Audai decided to sell the business, Ahmed was ready to take over. With business counseling and a loan from CEI, Ahmed purchased the business and renamed it Ameera Bread.
Since purchasing the business in 2014, Ameera has expanded its product range and locations, adding a second shop in Portland’s Monument Square to the bakery/shop on Forest Avenue. The business has also grown in acclaim, earning positive reviews in the local press and a Maine Minority Owned Small Business of the Year Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2019.
“I can see in his eyes that he feels proud when Ameera Bread does well,”Ahmed Abbas, Ameera Bread Owner on StartSmart advisor John Scribner.
Ahmed is equally proud of his success thus far, but is conscious of being strategic in his future growth. “I have a lot of ideas, but I learned how to grow wisely.” Ahmed highlighted how John has helped him consider the ramifications of new ideas before committing to them.
“If you see Ameera expand,” he says, “you’ll know it is the right time.” Growing wisely, indeed.
LEARN MORE ABOUT AMEERA BREAD
LOOKING TO START OR GROW YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
To learn more about how CEI’s StartSmart program can help you start or grow your immigrant-owned business, visit https://www.ceimaine.org/advising/business-counseling-development/startsmart/
For more information on CEI’s loan offerings, including our new Wicked FastTM loans, visit: https://www.ceimaine.org/financing/