Accra, Ghana: Surinder Kaur Cheema came to Accra four decades ago from her native Baroda in India's Gujarat state to support her businessman husband. Today, she is a hugely successful entrepreneur in her own right with two popular Indian restaurants, is often called on by the diplomatic community to provide catering services on special occasions and is an active social worker.
"Surinder Kaur Cheema must be saluted for single-handedly building one of the most successful Indian restaurants in Ghana," Amar Deep S Hari, the Indian-origin CEO of prominent IT firm IPMC, told IANS.
Ms Cheema arrived in Ghana in 1974 to join her award-winning farmer-exporter husband Harcharan Cheema. From a housewife she later turned to teach at the Ebenezer Secondary School in Accra for a while, and has now settled on selling India through her restaurants.
"It was after 13 years that I started my first restaurant, Kohinoor Restaurant at Osu (an Accra suburb). l have now been able to add another one, Delhi Palace at Tema (a port city some 25 km from Accra)," Ms Cheema told IANS.
Her success as a restaurateur has become acclaimed as she not only serves Indian delicacies on her premises but has now become the caterer of choice for most diplomatic receptions and private events.
Ms Cheema, who now employs about 35 people, said she would love to increase the number of restaurants she runs "but it is not easy because of my numerous commitments".
She divides her time between running her restaurants and ensuring that women affected with breast cancer get treatment, some rural communities get schools and water.
"Through the work of the Indian Women's Association, we have been able to raise money to get women in the country treated for breast cancer. Among other similar projects, we recently provided a school at Nima in Accra and provided a borehole for water to the people of Abanta near Koforidua in the eastern region," Ms Cheema said.
Last year, when heavy rains led to the flooding of some parts of Accra killing several people, Ms Cheema led the Indian Women Association to provide food and other essentials to those who had been rendered homeless.
"I did not meet the women but we were told that the food that was supplied to us was brought by the Indian Women Association and their leader is the one who owns the Kohinoor Restaurants," Ama Konadu, one of the victims who received the support, told IANS.
"We are proud to have Mrs Surinder Kaur Cheema as a role model for the next generation, both to the Indian and Ghanaian communities," Mr Hari said.