Fusion Kitchen

We use cooking and story telling to provide immigrant women with Canadian work experience, develop transferable skill sets and build their self confidence.

About You

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About You

First Name

Chantelle

Last Name

Buffie

About Your Organization

Organization Name

Fusion Kitchen

Organization Website

Organization Country

Canada, BC, Lower Mainland

Country where this solution is creating social impact

Canada, BC, Lower Mainland

Region in BC where your solution creates social impact

Vancouver.

Is your organization a

Not registered

How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

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Innovation

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Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Start-Up (a pilot that has just begun operating)

How long have you been in operation?

Operating for less than a year

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your solution addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Quality.

The Need: Describe the need for your solution and the size and characteristics of the community(ies) your solution is engaging

Since 2006, Canada has been welcoming an average of 250,000 new immigrants each year. However, quite commonly, many of these individuals are met with the social challenges and difficulties of transitioning into a new culture, while struggling to secure employment in the workforce. More specifically within B.C and amongst immigrant women, about 40% of the total immigrant population in Vancouver is women aged 15 years and over. The unemployment rate for immigrant women is approximately 8%, while recent arrivals face an even higher rate of close to 15%. There are several reasons behind these numbers ranging from language barriers to a lack of Canadian credentials and work experience to a lack of jobs to a lack of transferable skill sets.

The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!

Fusion Kitchen uses cooking classes as a platform for the women to build their self-confidence, develop transferable skill sets, and gain Canadian work experience, while improving their English language. Through partnerships with immigrant and immigrant-affiliated organizations, in addition to speaking with local community centres, churches, and schools, we individually interact and engage with the women beforehand. Once onboard as a teacher, they are given one month of training on how to organize and run a cooking class along with developing focused skill sets such as communication and leadership. For the following six months, the training program will highlight specific skills each month applicable to teaching a cook class and to broader employment opportunities. As a teacher, the women run a 3-hour cultural cooking experience to the public featuring a tutorial and demonstration of 4-5 dishes, hands-on cooking in smaller groups, and the opportunity to enjoy meal with the class.

The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include the primary activities involved in your solution.

Working with our first teacher, Shahnaz, for Fusion Kitchen's first two classes, the team learned how the opportunity has impacted her. Coming to Canada, the biggest culture shock to Shahnaz was the language barrier she faced. Wanting to find a job, she reached out to DIVERSEcity to assist in building her resume and cover letter, and transitioned to the Immigrant Services Society of B.C to learn more about the Canadian job search process, what qualifications an employer looked for, and to gain further certification. Thus far, the biggest challenge she is finding in her search for employment is the fact that she does not have Canadian credentials. With over 25 years of educational experience in Pakistan, it is astonishing that she has been unable to secure a job. What attracted Shahnaz to Fusion Kitchen was the fact that she would be using her hobby of cooking and her passion for food as a means to gain work experience and connect with the Canadian community. The team learned that she loved teaching the two classes and that they really helped her in terms of building her self-confidence. She enjoyed working with us to prepare the recipes, practicing her presentation and teaching skills, interacting with the people in the class on the recipes and her culture, and the overall positive and energetic environment.

The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others working to address the same needs as you and indicate what sets you apart from them.

In terms of cooking classes, peers and competitors include higher end cooking class businesses such as The Dirty Apron, The Cookshop, The Hungry Oven, and Radha; community centres; continuing education classes; post-secondary school programs; and Youtube channels. In regards to helping immigrant individuals, organizations such as PICS, S.U.C.C.E.S.S, Mosaic, DIVERSEcity, and S.E.E.D.S offer programs to assist immigrants in finding and securing a job in Canada. The uniqueness of Fusion Kitchen comes from how we leverage the regular, everyday skills (cooking) of the women, in order for them to develop transferable skill sets, build self-confidence, and gain Canadian work experience, while connecting individuals from different cultures through food.

This Entry is about (Issues)

Social Impact

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Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world.

During a social entrepreneurship course, we decided to take a deeper look into the issues of immigrant women and employment where we found a huge hole in the system: because the women didn’t have Canadian work experience, they were having a difficult time obtaining employment, but they couldn’t obtain Canadian work experience as no one would give them a job.
We looked at possible solutions of using the skills and talent these women already possess. From our own experiences, and while interviewing members from the community, there was one thing that stood out: these women could cook - an undervalued and generally deemed irrelevant skill. However, we both knew how unique and special home cooked meals are.
From this, we saw the potential for immigrant women to share their cooking talent and their stories with others, all while gaining Canadian work experience, developing transferable skill sets and building their self confidence to increase their chance of obtaining employment.

Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve

We are providing a platform for immigrant women to gain Canadian work experience and develop their skills so they can obtain employment in Canada. We want to act as a bridge and an employer for immigrants so that they can share their unique cooking skills and stories with people who are interested in learning about their culture and background. We want to build a community where skills, knowledge and culture are appreciated and celebrated.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

To date, we have held 3 classes and worked with one teacher. Our teacher has taught over 40 students how to cook Pakistani food.

Our first teacher Shahnaz told us that her experience with Fusion Kitchen has "helped her with her self-confidence and has allowed her to connect and learn from others". She has grown tremendously from the first time we met her, where she was a bit nervous about her first class to today where she is excited to run her next class.

What is your projected impact over the next five years?

We project that we will be working with 60 teachers over the next 5 years, and have all obtain meaningful employment following their term with Fusion Kitchen. In this time span, we hope to share the culture and stories of these women with over 4,000 individuals who take a Fusion Kitchen class. Further, we hope to open up Fusion Kitchen in 2 different cities around Canada and the US, and establish an online presence to reach beyond our physial capacities.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

Obtaining a venue for our classes has been a challenge. We are looking for a venue that has the same layout as a high school kitchen, however due to rules and regulations around private rentals, we have been having difficulties finding and securing one for the long term. Currently, we are in the talks with the Vancouver School Board to see if we are able to use their facilities. If we are unable to come to an agreement with the school board, we will look into partnering with restaurants who are only open in the evenings, and utilize their facilities in the day time. Other alternatives include offering the classes as private sessions in the homes of our customers.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Securing a venue, hiring 4 teachers, and offering private home classes.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone

Task 1

Secure a long term agreement with Vancouver School Board to use a home ecomonics classroom

Task 2

Approach and present to program participants in immigrant and immigrant affiliated organizations.

Task 3

Reach out to corporations and business clubs to secure at least 4 private classes.

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Offer ingredient kits, online video subscriptons, and more in-person classes per month

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone

Task 1

Create recipe packages to be sold through our website

Task 2

Create videos and an online subscription platform as another revenue stream and way to reach out to customers internationally

Task 3

Increase marketing efforts to ensure demand is filled for each class

Sustainability

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Tell us about your partnerships

At the moment, we are trying to secure a venue with the Vancouver School Board, we are speaking with immigrant and immigrant-affiliated organizations to connect with more teachers, and we are seeking partnerships with local restaurants, food grocers, and corporations for food supplies, venue options, and clients.

Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your solution? If so, where and why?

Besides having a local clientele base with our cooking classes, we want to expand to the global market by offering video subscriptions and recipe kits. Not only do we want to help the women with expanding their skill sets and gaining work experience, we want to share their culture with others and connect people through food.

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

One of the major factors that makes our innovation successful is the fact that we hire women based on how well they cook and their passion for their culture, not on their credentials. Most cooking schools and classes have teachers who are certified, and are cooking dishes that are not from their own culture. At Fusion Kitchen, we pride ourselves on hiring teachers who are like your mothers/aunts/grandmothers, cook homestyle meals that are from their culture, and have a genuine passion of sharing their love for food, cooking, and their culture. We want the students to feel relaxed, connect with the teacher, and learn something new as if they traveled to the country of the cuisine they are cooking.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

Our biggest need is getting the word out about Fusion Kitchen, so when people want to take a cooking classes in Vancouver, they think of our business. Additionally, the team comes from a background and with experiences that involve coming up with ideas/innovating existing ideas to help solve community issues.

102 weeks ago Chantelle Buffie updated this Competition Entry.
102 weeks ago Chantelle Buffie updated this Competition Entry.
103 weeks ago Chantelle Buffie updated this Competition Entry.
103 weeks ago Chantelle Buffie updated this Competition Entry.
103 weeks ago Chantelle Buffie updated this Competition Entry.
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118 weeks ago Chantelle Buffie submitted this idea.