'Starbox' and 'Kafory Fried Chicken' are taking off in Sudan


You may have heard about the various Chinese knockoffs of American fast food chains that have sprung up as that country’s population has developed more Western eating habits.

The Chinese, it seems, are not the only ones trying to pull a fast (food) one.

Bloomberg’s Bassem Abo Alabass Mohammed reports that a coffee bar/bistro called Starbox and a fried chicken outlet called Kafory have taken off in Sudan, which the U.S. has designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.

“I have a good customer base and I’m looking into opening more branches,” Atef Abdullah, the owner of Kafory, told Mohammed recently; gesturing at the company emblem of a grinning, avuncular gentleman, Abdullah told Mohammed, “That’s a picture of my brother, not ‘Colonel Sanders.'”

Despite an acrimonious relationship with the United States, the success of American-style brands shouldn’t be surprising, Mohammed says: Sudan’s middle class, according to South Africa-based Standard Bank Group, is expected to double to about a quarter of the population by 2030, thanks to ongoing strength in the country’s agriculture, services, and mining industry.

And a 2012 report by consultant group McKinsey ranked the country’s capital, Khartoum, fifth in a list of worldwide cities expected to “see the highest growth in young entry-level consumers between 2010 and 2025.”

Starbucks told Mohammed it is looking into the matter. A 2012 photo on the store’s website shows what appears to be Starbucks items for sale…

Although there appears to be much more variety at the bar

And a more…upscale (?)…dining area.

Wael Abu el-Alaa, Starbox’s owner, said he’s faced legal action from the government for the name similarity but survived; Starbucks is formally barred from operating in Sudan, Mohammed writes.

“I was acquitted because the names are different,” the 36-year-old told Bloomberg.

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin