The work of La Cocina was featured on the speakers program for the May luncheon. Caleb Zigas, the nonprofit’s executive director, described how this program evolved in the Mission District to mentor, train and advise low-income and/or immigrant women to become entrepreneurs in the food business.
Many of the women got their start informally by cooking specialty food products in their homes and selling them to neighbors and local workers. La Cocina takes them the next step by offering affordable commercial kitchen space and a program which helps them analyze product viability and create a business plan.
After going through the incubator stage, the participants get help with branding, marketing, risk assessment, cost analysis and pricing. Currently, there are 31 incubator businesses and 20 graduates out on their own with successful businesses.
Two graduates spoke enthusiastically about what La Cocina enabled them to do. Binita Pradham of Bini’s Kitchen in San Francisco specializes in Nepalese momos, or dumplings, available for delivery or pickup. Guisell Osorio started with a catering company specializing in South American dishes (especially empanadas and cookies) and has recently opened a restaurant in Walnut Creek, Sabores del Sur.
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To learn more about La Cocina, visit their web page at www.lacocinasf.org.