As a little girl in Cairo, Aida Mady helped her mother bake and from there her passion blossomed. Aida was the youngest of 8 children and enjoyed baking for relatives, friends, and those in need. In her 30-year long career, Aida has worked in many diverse capacities – as a travel agent, tour planner, academic advisor, program advisor, furniture importer and exporter, and an interior decorator.
Now living in Northern Virginia, Aida Mady, wife, mother of three children, and accomplished home cook, is still baking using the cooking techniques she learned as a child. “I was invited to attend some of EWI events and it was a ‘love at first sight’. I then joined as a board member, and then decided to take the ETS course to help transform my experience and talents into a true business”, says Aida, of EWI’s impact on her life. With training and mentoring from Empowered Women International (EWI), Aida was able to successfully launch her own business, Cooking and Beyond in 2012. She brings with her a unique entrepreneurial spirit rooted in rich culture and passion for the art of baking. Aida shares EWI’s vision for using the arts as a unifying language of multicultural understanding.
In starting her business, Aida experienced some difficulties in finding suitable and affordable commercial kitchens. EWI helped in negotiating with some churches and other facilities to offer affordable kitchen space. Finally, Aida went ahead with getting her home kitchen certified, which is permitted in the state of Virginia. EWI has also helped Aida in acquiring more exposure to clients and participating in marketplaces. “EWI does all the prep, logistics and marketing, which makes my participation much easier,” says Aida. Today, Aida offers her baked goods in stores throughout the Alexandria area at local stores such as Mischa’s, Ten Thousand Villages, Killer E.S.P., and Aphrodite Greek Imports. She will soon be offering cooking classes at Whole Foods, and is expanding her market to sell baked goods in select department stores.
Aida is actively involved in volunteering within her community. She is a member of the Muslim Women Association (MWA), volunteers with Hands Along Nile Development Services, and IMAGINE LIFE, a non-political organization for media awareness for children who live under occupation. Aida also continues to give back to EWI by mentoring and teaching new EWI students and graduates, as well as participating at EWI events by showcasing her business. This, Aida says, is “so donors and supports can see clearly how vital and important their continuous support is to EWI. Entrepreneurs’ success is EWI’s success. This is the least I can give back to EWI.”