From February 2014 to August 2014, I'll be traveling nearly halfway around the world to work with La Cocina a not-for-profit organisation which helps women from low income and immigrant communities who run informal food businesses from their homes, where I will be building the existing curriculum and conducting market research to make it easier for these women to set up brick-and-mortar food businesses. I'm asking for the support of my family, friends and anyone else inspired by my story to make this work possible. La Cocina provides these women with cheap kitchen rental, and what is essentially an intense food MBA to help them transition from an informal home business to a fully-fledged, legal food business. Our aim is to empower the women to move from an income patching casual job to an asset generating business where they are in control, where they feel empowered and can genuinely make a difference in their lives and their families as well.
I’m a social enterprise and food enthusiast; and believe that a mix of the two is even better! I’m currently doing my undergraduate at the University of Bath, and studying here has allowed me to go on a journey exploring the social sector. It has shown me that it is possible to make money and do good in the world, and that the two don’t need to be mutually exclusive. The people I’ve met and worked with along this journey have spurred my interest and belief in the fact that education, empowerment, collaboration, and the power of communities can go a long way to changing the world for the better. And my work for La Cocina in San Francisco will carry on this inspiring journey.
About the internship
At La Cocina, I will help build out
their bespoke incubation curriculum. This'll include developing materials for
new innovative teaching modules, with a focus on cooperative building. I will
also be conducting market research on the Urban Real Estate sector in San
Francisco, with a focus on innovative “maker-spaces” (community-operated
workspaces where people with common interest can work from, socialise &
build their business). This'll be a critical element of La Cocina’s strategic
growth initiative around creating low capital brick & mortar retail
opportunities in San Francisco for the women, as this is something that is
currently very capital intensive.
By working at La Cocina, I hope to gain insights, from a grass routes level, into how we can use the power of food and community to create lasting social change. I would love to, one day, be able to leverage these learnings to have a start-up of my own working at the intersection of food and social enterprise.
My Journey to San Francisco
I was born and brought up in Delhi, and moved to the UK at the age of 8. Having spent the majority of my life in the UK, I still felt a sense of affinity to India and have always wanted to move back there for a while, just to try it out, just to see if I could actually do it. I got an opportunity to do just that last year when I was offered an internship at UnLtd India, a launch-pad for social entrepreneurs which finds, funds, and supports exceptional individuals whose ideas, passion and entrepreneurial skills can bring about long-term solutions to India's social problems. There I worked primarily for their co-working space, Bombay Connect, helping build the skills of these entrepreneurs and creating a collaborative community around them. Those 6 months were life-changing; it was where I found my passion, and was inspired day-in-day-out by the drive, generosity, and determination of the people I was surrounded by.
Whilst working at UnLtd India, I was introduced to MakeSense, a global community of young, social enterprise enthusiasts, collaborating to solve the business challenges of social entrepreneurs all over the world. What MakeSense has given me is a sense of the true power of community and has opened my eyes to the sheer number of start-ups working on solving the issues we have in society; be that Chayn who is helping women in Pakistan who are victims of domestic violence, or StudentFunder who is helping students who face financial hardships access to higher education in the UK.
I spent this summer working at The Social Investment Consultancy and was primarily involved in a social impact assessment project as well as launching a UK-wide campaign for a social mobility-focused social enterprise that they have been incubating for the past few years.
How can you help me on my way to La Cocina
Unfortunately, this internship with La Cocina is unpaid, and San Francisco is an expensive city to live in (it will cost me approximately £6000 over 5 months). I’ve been working hard over the past few weeks to raise funds for it; working part time, applying for grants, pitching to individuals that may want some research conducted on the social enterprise sector in San Francisco. Through those efforts I have been able to cover half the cost of the trip; and that is where YOU come in. I’m asking for the support of my friends, family and anyone else who is inspired by my story to help me raise funds to cover the other half. I’ve dreamt of working for La Cocina for over a year; I’m in awe of the difference they’re making to the lives of the women they support and am so grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to the incredible work they do. With your support I’m aiming to raise enough money to cover my flight costs, visa fees, and my first 2 months of rent in order to make this dream into a reality!
- 20 donations of £5 will help me cover my visa costs
- 20 donations of £25 will help me cover my flight costs
- 30 donations of £30 will help me cover 2 months of rent
Want to help, but can’t donate?
Connect me with your people; share my story with your friends, family, co-workers, anyone and everyone...after all, I am a big believer in the power of communities! Or do you know someone in San Francisco, maybe someone who can help me with accommodation, give me advice on San Francisco life, or tell me where to get the best taco in town? Well, introduce us!
Or, just simply wish me luck!
Thank you to each and every one of you for your support, no matter what the form!
Much love, as always