Young Innovators Success Stories: Tendai Taruvinga, Veafy Ltd, West Midlands

Posted on: 11/01/2023

The engineer-turned-chef bringing African flavours to the mainstream

In 2019, Tendai Taruvinga left his job in construction to reconnect with his passion for cooking. In doing so, he spotted a gap in the market and decided to launch his own African food delivery business.

Tendai’s business, Veafy, delivers tasty, vegan-friendly, African-inspired ready meals that showcase the culinary heritage of nations and  regions across the continent.

Prestige and progress

Since winning the Young Innovators Award, Tendai has been actively attending trade fairs and food shows to build brand awareness and create sales opportunities. This includes an exhibition stall at a prestigious food show later this year.

He credits the Award’s funding, mentoring support and associated prestige with helping him to drive business growth.

“Progress has been made across the business since joining the programme. Sales figures have multiplied, despite the current economic challenges. I can say I have definitely benefited from the exposure of being a Young Innovator,” Tendai says.

The experience has also helped with personal growth. Tendai believes he’s grown in confidence and sharpened his sales skills, particularly in person.

“As business owners, I think we’re all guilty at times of an over-reliance on social media. It’s easy, convenient and you can avoid the prospect of potential rejection. Placing myself in positions where I’m face to face with the public has opened up numerous opportunities, which has enabled me to express my passion for Veafy in physical settings,” he says.

Living and learning

Tendai has learnt a lot over the past year, gaining plenty of experience – both good and bad – along the way.

Now describing himself as “a Young Innovator with a wiser head”, he explains how he’s learned from his mistakes and is more discerning and cautious as a result.

“Not every business decision will have a desirable outcome, as with any in life. Learning from these experiences will shape you into a better entrepreneur,” he says.

He also speaks about the benefit of having wider support as part of the Award, including mentors who’ve offered invaluable advice and guidance.

“My Innovation Champion from Innovate UK EDGE has given me so many great ideas and helped me to steer the business through some tough moments. My monitoring officer was also really supportive with helping to prepare the reporting documents and even travelled to meet me in person midway through the programme.”

A wealth of opportunity

Tendai describes the financial support he received through the Award as “a revelation” for both him and the business.

“It’s been amazing to have a stream of funding which I can reinvest across my business without constantly worrying about my bottom line – something that is always a concern for any startup enterprise. I have been able to build a stock inventory of useful raw materials to ensure I can keep trading during potentially trickier months ahead,” he says.

As well as the funding, Tendai has reaped the benefits of meeting fellow Young Innovators Award winners.

“It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to finally meet my fellow Award winners at the cross-cohort event in Manchester back in September, where we were treated to interactive workshops and inspiring talks from industry professionals,” he says.

Even more flavour

Winning the Young Innovators Award has enabled Tendai to get his name out there, share his passion with potential customers and think about what’s next for Veafy.

He advises prospective applicants or those joining the programme through the latest Awards to “grab the opportunity with both hands and run with it”.

“Having Innovate UK by your side will open up a host of opportunities, so make the most of the full support package available, especially your mentorship team,” he says.

“You’ve demonstrated immense bravery in choosing to go your own way and start your own enterprise. This is a chance for you to realise your potential and innovate to help make the world a better place.”


Join us and become part of the Young Innovators community. Find out more about the programme here.

Read the other Young Innovators’ success stories here.

Share this article

Related programme

Young Innovators

Young Innovators

The Young Innovators Awards are an annual competition from Innovate UK that finds, supports and celebrates young people with great business ideas.


Connect with Innovate UK Business Connect

Join Innovate UK Business Connect's mailing list to receive updates on funding opportunities, events and to access Innovate UK Business Connect's deep expertise. Please check your email to confirm your subscription and select your area(s) of interest.