While the refugee crisis has captured news coverage, the state of Connecticut has received displaced people for several years. This story is about how an investment from several community philanthropists, including the Tariq and Asma Farid Foundation, are giving inspiration to eight refugees who are eager to become food entrepreneurs in New Haven.
The eight, who came from Syria, Afghanistan and Sudan, are participants in a new program called Kitchen Incubator, organized by CitySeed of New Haven. They are training to start a food business. The course also covers subjects in finance, marketing, legal and food safety.
Throughout the 10-week program participants are paired with an experienced mentor in small business management and have access to CitySeed’s commercial kitchen space for food preparation and testing.
On a recent Saturday morning, , participants were busy understanding product development. Working with their mentor, the participants reviewed the items needed for their own recipes and listed how many of each item was required.
“How many pounds of carrots will you need to buy if you make this dish to serve 10 people? What about the parsley and garlic for the tabouli, how much?” asked the mentor as he typed the ingredients into a spreadsheet.
“Three pounds, four bunches of parsley and three cloves,” replied the woman.
Using the spreadsheet, participants could see the volume of food they need to buy while understanding how to set prices for the product they would eventually sell. Future lessons include labeling, food safety and testing products with local chefs.
“Food brings cultures and people together,” observed Asma Farid, director of the Farid Foundation. “We hope participants get training and confidence to become food entrepreneurs and hopefully launch their own businesses.”