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Creating Coffee Dreams in Greater Des Moines

Coffee Dreams in DSM

October 30, 2023

Kuuku Saah, Co-Owner of Mars Café in Greater Des Moines (DSM), reflects on his decision to become a small business owner, and how investing in the region with your time and resources helps your business grow and community thrive.

Kuuku Saah Q+A

When did you know to take the leap to start something?

The trigger for me? It was 2020. After George Floyd, I saw a list of black-owned businesses that went around and it was a list that fit on a single page, which was disappointing. I guess it didn't sit well with me. Through that time, I started having conversations about the potential purchase of a coffee shop. And it just felt like it was coming together.

To what or who do you or your success?

I'll say it was my mom and dad for making the sacrifice and taking a big step and moving our family to America for better opportunities. I think about how different my life could have been if we'd never moved and some of the opportunities that were made available to me because of this move. I can't imagine what that decision process looks like, leaving your family base and starting a new from somewhere else.

What is a routine you follow each day?

A big thing for me is walking my dog. That is predictable and it's a lot of thinking time. Like it really, really sets me right for the day because I get an opportunity to plan and to think through complex problems on a leisurely walk. It's also a fun way to stay active, which is one thing that I try to do every single day.

What do you love about building a business in the Greater Des Moines (DSM) community?

Coming in as an immigrant, I had no thoughts about being able to start a business in America, but I have received an incredible amount of support from the community. I'm incredibly thankful for that support, whether it's encouraging words or those people coming through and patronizing the coffee shop and drinking great coffee. There has been an incredible amount of community support.

What's the best piece of advice you've received?

If you're in a position where you're able to dedicate your time and resources to helping the community, do it. I think that that's incredibly powerful because the objective should be leaving the Earth better than we met it, and part of that is being able to support community initiatives. There's a selfish element of that to where if you live in a community that supports each other if you're never in a position that you need support, there are people out there who can help you.

You know, I think that's incredibly powerful for everyone, knowing that if you invest in your community, you have the opportunity to keep on reinvesting in other people and people can invest in you in different ways, whether it's enabling each other to learn something new, through sharing culture or entertainment. There are different ways of finding eventual fulfillment through community investment.

Find more information at mars.coffee. and follow Mars Café on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership celebrates the Greater Des Moines (DSM) entrepreneur community and helps small businesses succeed with one-of-a-kind resources and opportunities for networking. Find out how other entrepreneurs have found success by reading their stories and attending local small business events in the region.

Diana Wright

Diana Wright is the Startup Community Builder at Greater Des Moines Partnership. She has a passion for helping others bridge their ideas and create results. In her role at The Partnership she connects and leads entrepreneurs helping them speed up their growth and success.