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Waroeng Indonesia

University graduates bring a taste of Indonesia to Newcastle

Published on: 4 February 2019

Newcastle University graduates are sinking their teeth into the restaurant and catering business with the launch of an Indonesian food start-up company.

Only months after launching their pop up restaurant and catering business, called Waroeng Indonesia, graduates Kezia Toto and Monica Said’s bespoke catering services are in demand across a number of venues in the city.

The duo have secured deals with several clients, including INTO Newcastle University, Vita Student, Globe International Student Café, Newcastle University Business School and other private clients.

Monica said: “Waroeng comes from an Indonesian word that means a small restaurant where guests from every background, social class and ethnicity groups can bond together over good food. We’re hoping that in the future, Waroeng Indonesia does not only function as a restaurant, but also as a space to break barriers.”

Monica (left) and Kezia in the kitchen

Turning ideas into successful ventures

Both Monica, 23, and Kezia, 24, are Newcastle University graduates and INTO Newcastle alumni. Monica finished her first stage of Architecture Studies last year, while Kezia graduated with a BA degree in Combined Honours.

The budding entrepreneurs have worked on several projects together. They launched a social enterprise, from which, they learnt the principles of business and marketing. In just under nine months, they turned the £120 they had as start-up capital into a £3,000 profit, which they donated to an orphanage in Indonesia.

After graduating, the duo succeeded in securing Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa, which has allowed them to stay in the UK, and to launch their business.

Now, the duo offer their service across a number of locations in Newcastle and Gateshead, including By the River Brew Co, a creative container community sat alongside Quayside and Kommunity NCL’s monthly night market.

Kezia said: “Many success stories only speak about the achievements of someone opening a restaurant or someone else getting an award. It’s rare to hear about the struggles, the constant work and the uncertainties that we face that, at times, gives rise to anxiety.

“Starting a business is hard. There have been times when I wanted to switch to something easier, but the goal for me is not just to create a sustainable and profitable business, as every entrepreneur wish to create. It is also to enjoy the growth process, the hard work and the long hours that come with it.”

Support for entrepreneurs

The young entrepreneurs have received support and endorsement for the visa application from Newcastle University's Careers Service, as well as a grant from UnLtd, an organisation that provides funds for social entrepreneurs around the UK.

Claire Adamson, Start-up Manager at Newcastle University Careers Service, said:  “Newcastle University is one of a number of endorsing organisations for the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route. We are looking for international graduates with ambitious ideas and the personal drive, resilience and entrepreneurial flair to make them happen.

“It is a competitive process, given the limited number of endorsements we have to award each year, and Monica and Kezia stood out to us because they demonstrated these qualities and more. They developed the concept during their final year of study and I know that they will go on to make it a reality, they’re a great partnership – we wish them every success.”

Monica added: “It’s true that many have doubted our capabilities as entrepreneurs. While we didn’t have any formal education in business, together we had a lot of other experience running projects, doing internships in a start-up company and placements in the Marketing field.

“The support we have received from the Careers Service, particularly the mentorship with Steve Bowden and Jackie Wade, have been fundamental to get our business up and running and it helped us grow as entrepreneurs.”


Kezia and Monica were backed by START UP, Newcastle University’s support for students and recent graduates looking to become self-employed and start new businesses. START UP supports students and recent graduates from any degree programme.

Steve Bowden, their Start-up Adviser at the University, said: “Kezia and Monica met each challenge on their entrepreneurial journey with enthusiasm and a determination to overcome any obstacles. They have accessed one-to-one coaching and advice, workshops and networking events, through START UP, to develop their knowledge and confidence of the business development process and to design the best customer experience possible based on a real understanding of who their customers are and what they want.”

The young entrepreneurs welcome future clients to get in touch as they offer bespoke catering services to suit the needs of different organisations or individuals.


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