SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Not all American success stories begin here in the United States. That includes Karney Garley, the owner of Global Food and Karney African Market.

“I was born and raised in Liberia. I was 17 years of age when I came to the United States,” Garley said.

In 2015, Karney Garley immigrated to Sioux City to pursue a better life.

“I can say it was like tough. Yeah, because I got adopted. My biological mother, she had like 11 kids, so living with her my father passed away. I think I was at the age of 9. So I used to live in the village before I moved to the capital city of Liberia, which is Monrovia,” Garley said.

Garley didn’t go to school until she was 9-years-old, helping her family make ends meet. Garley’s adopted mother would soon make a decision that would change their family’s lives.

“My mom was thinking about moving here to the United States with us, for things to be better with us. I know for us to have a better education. She had to like move here for a few years and send for us.”

After being separated by more than 5,000 miles, Garley and her brother Josh would join their mom in Sioux City.

“It was not easy at first, yeah like especially me going to school as a freshman. Like everything was new to me, everything was tough, you know,” said Garley.

And it didn’t take long for Garley to realize the African cuisine she grew up with was not available in Sioux City.

Garley holding frozen Cassava leaves

“Before, we used to like, let’s say there was no west African store in Sioux City here. Like, we used to like travel far away to just, maybe three hours. And not everyone had a car or can drive, so you know, to make it easy for the other people and ourselves, we just decided to maybe just start somewhere like maybe we start a little store like this,” said Garley.

In August 2020, Garley opened her grocery store business from home.

“Yeah, I started in my little garage at home opening the store yeah. Because I just had little money. Let’s say it was $2,000. It was not much. At that time I just had my little baby as a new first-time mother you know,” Garley said.

From her garage to her first location on Pierce Street, Garley’s grocery store was gaining traction. However, she had to overcome adversity.

“People used to laugh when they pass by, when they see the place so empty, they don’t want to come in. They used to be laughing, like sometimes I feel sad, but you know…I said I’m not going to give up. I’m just going to continue. That’s my dream, so I’m not giving up,” Garley exclaimed.

Working toward her dreams helped Garley expand her store in Morningside. Now she has her sights set on opening an international restaurant.

“All the people they want to try the country food, you know they don’t have the recipe to cook the food. I will try to start having some cooked food here,” Garley said.