From Soldier to Chef: How One Military Veteran is Taking East African Cuisine to New Heights

Daisy Smith, a Ugandan-born soldier, is using her passion for cooking to build a successful business, thanks to a program that supports military veterans in pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams.

Daisy Smith, a soldier serving in the United States military, has always had a passion for cooking authentic East African food. Born and raised in Uganda, Smith found herself longing for the flavors of home while living in the United States. Determined to share her culinary heritage with others, she embarked on a journey to turn her passion into a thriving business. With the help of a program designed to support military veterans in their entrepreneurial endeavors, Smith is now on the path to success.

Samosas and Beyond: A Taste of East Africa:

Last year, Smith began selling samosas, a popular African and Asian pastry filled with meat and vegetables, at local farmers markets on weekends. The response was overwhelming, and she quickly expanded her offerings to include other traditional African dishes. In just one summer, Smith made upwards of $12,000 from her sales.

Starting Small, Dreaming Big:

Smith’s success story is a testament to the fact that not every business requires a large initial investment. With just $200 from her paycheck, she launched her culinary venture. Her determination and resourcefulness allowed her to start small and gradually grow her business.

Catering to Success:

Smith’s reputation for delicious and authentic East African cuisine spread quickly, leading to catering opportunities for small groups. From Super Bowl parties to intimate Valentine’s Day dinners, Smith’s culinary creations have become a sought-after addition to special occasions.

The Program that Propelled Her Forward:

Smith’s journey took a significant leap forward when she joined a program specifically designed to support active-duty military members, military spouses, and veterans in their entrepreneurial pursuits. The program, taught by the Veteran Business Outreach Center, equips participants with the skills and knowledge needed to start and grow a successful business. From business plan development to financial projections and marketing strategies, the program covers all aspects of entrepreneurship.

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Unlocking Potential in Every Industry:

The beauty of the program lies in its versatility. It caters to individuals from various industries, including woodworking, construction, landscaping, and real estate development. The program encourages anyone with an idea or a dream to come and explore their potential, providing them with the tools and resources necessary for success.

A Side Hobby with Retirement Goals:

For Smith, her culinary venture started as a side hobby but has now become a path to early retirement. Her advice to others looking to start a small business is simple: “Do something you like, don’t do something because it’s selling.” Smith’s passion for cooking and her commitment to sharing her culture through food have been the driving forces behind her success.

Paving the Way for Entrepreneurial Dreams:

The program that supported Smith’s journey is not limited to her alone. Regularly taught throughout the year at multiple bases across New York, the program offers opportunities for military veterans, active-duty members, and military spouses to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. With an advanced business class also available, participants can continue to enhance their skills and knowledge as they grow their businesses.


Daisy Smith’s story is a testament to the power of passion, determination, and the support of programs designed to help military veterans succeed in their entrepreneurial endeavors. From selling samosas at local farmers markets to catering for special events, Smith’s journey is a testament to the potential that lies within each of us. As she continues to build her business, Smith’s success serves as an inspiration to others, proving that with the right resources and a commitment to doing what you love, dreams can become reality.

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