My name is Sonya Kumar, aged 20. I am a graduate from the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy ( Yes Peter from Dragons Den). I studied Music Tech and Business studies in 6th form before that. At the Peter Jones Academy I graduated with A*A* in entrepreneurship and that is where I built my whole business idea called Svadish.
I also entered the annual competition at the academy called National Entrepreneur of the year 2014 and was the only female out of the 6 finalists! (Should be a video on youtube if you type in PJ 2014 Graduation). I then went on to win the title of National Entrepreneur of the year 2014. I was highly commended and it was a very proud moment for myself and the family. My parents would always say ‘Sonya, will there ever be a day where one of our kids will take us up on stage’ I always hoped that kid was me, and in fact it was as they stood next to Peter Jones with a proud feeling.
Svadish is an Indian restaurant based in West London, Hounslow West. We started trading in September 1st 2014, so it has just been over a year now. We focus on authentic north indian, full of flavour punjabi food. I was 19 when I started running this business, purely independent and the only director. I got a loan from a company called Start Up Loans and trained in a restaurant for 9 months with no pay. I then qualified in 9 cooking courses which I was certified for.
We try our best to give the Indian food a healthy touch and my aim is to prove that Indian food can be healthy. I also suffer from diabetes so understand how important looking after your health can be. My grandfather in fact owned his own restaurant in Kenya, Mombasa, however after he passed away his dream of running a worldwide Indian restaurant chain left with him. He’s always been my inspiration and I hope to make his dream come true.
My message to AWMB community is…
I have alway been stopped and told to do what Asian women are best at – which I was told is being a typical house woman, look after the kids, get married and cook for my man! However I see things differently, not just me but MANY women out there. There are thousands of women worldwide who get held back from being able to do what they want career wise. Women out there get held back from family, friends, in-laws and even professionals who have been bought up in the olden days, they just need a little push and support to show them what they can do mixed with a little motivation and inspiration. NEVER sit back and let others tell you what’s right and what your future should look like. Woman in business do not just work for money, but to help make a difference! At the same time, it’s really important you take time out for yourself if you are in this field, over working can really take you down hill.
Tell us something that would surprise us about you
Well, I am just 20 & started running a restaurant of 52 covers + banquet hall that covers 70 at the age of 19. Had 2 months to find a place and get it all up and running. I don’t usually tell my age before signing any bookings or papers as it may put them in doubts whether I will be responsible enough. However, it all turned me into a very reserved person who is seen as a 25 year old. I was diagnosed with depression in February, many Asian women go through it, and making an awareness with depression in the Asian community of women is my next aim! Depression had hit me so hard I lost weight from 74kg to 49kg in 2 months. I have also recently gotten into modelling, just to get out there more as an Asian entrepreneur/model trying to make it big.