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Suipi’s East End Eatery serving up award-winning fare in Battle Creek

Fun story about Suipi’s East End Eatery in Battle Creek, owned by “Suipi, 49, who seems to have a permanent big smile [and] is a model of perseverance.”

In 2013 she went to Battle Creek from Burma (now called Myanmar) and joined the Burmese American residents there, now estimated to number 3,000. The Battle Creek Burmese community is the largest in Michigan, having started around 1980 when a local church sponsored the immigration of a refugee. Most of the Burmese immigrants fled political and religious oppression and persecution.

Suipi has been helped by a team at Northern Initiatives
Northern Initiatives’ Battle Creek team, from left, Kellie Hoffman, Justin Andert, Suipi, Jenny Muahlhun, and Israel Flores

To keep working on her dream restaurant, Suipi needed help. She got a lot of it, including a loan to complete the remodeling of her building and prepare to operate the restaurant. Financial help came from Northern Initiatives, based in Marquette and serving all of Michigan. Northern Initiatives is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), which is a lender active in minority communities plus areas of persistent poverty. CDFIs provide financing for communities where conventional lending businesses traditionally don’t invest.

Suipi was assisted by Jenny Mualhlun, a Burmese American who came to the U.S. when she was 12 and now is a business coach for Northern Initiatives. Mualhlun says, “She thought running a business was going to be as simple as how it was back in Burma; as soon as you can occupy a building, then you can be up and running. She didn’t know anything about the building codes, the health department requirements, all of those things. It is an old building; it needed a lot of improvement.”

Read the full story here.

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