Fled from SomaliaMohamed Abdullahi was only 11 years old when civil war broke out in his hometown of Mogadishu, Somalia. His family spent several months fleeing attacks by the hostile Hawiye clan there, and five years in Kenya, before joining relatives in the United States in 1997.
When his mother moved the family to San Diego to help a friend with her struggling business selling sambussas, the East African version of Indian samosas, Abdullahi saw opportunity.
With an $8,700 loan from the IRC, Abdullahi created a new name (Red), logo and English-language menu for their vendor stall at the local farmers' market at UC San Diego. In the three weeks since the makeover, sales have already jumped by 50 percent.
"We automatically stood out," Abdullahi says of Red's transformation. "I get a decent income, but I can also talk to customers and get their feeling about how they like the food, so I can use that for a restaurant down the road."