In conjunction with International Women’s Day, the Yunus Social Business Centre @ Sunway Education Group ([email protected]) together with Sunway University’s School of Hospitality (SOH), organised ‘The Social Kitchen,’ a culinary and entrepreneurship workshop for refugee women and B40 women in partnership with two social enterprises – PichaEats and Ibupreneur.
A total of 32 women from Malaysia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Myanmar participated in the event, which was held at Sunway University on 7 March 2020.
“International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender equality. This year’s theme, #EachforEqual underscores the power of individual roles in creating a gender equal world,” said Sunway Education Group CEO Dr Elizabeth Lee.
“We specially designed ‘The Social Kitchen’ as a way to both celebrate these courageous women – some who have lost their homes, their jobs and some their families, but who did not give up and are finding a way to start over again as well as empower each of them to be part of our socio-economic growth. By equipping them with new skills and understanding business principles, we hope to enable them to generate sustainable incomes for themselves and the ones they love. As outlined in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, empowered women are the foundation of an empowered society,” she added.
At the event, Sunway University’s School of Hospitality’s international culinary champions taught the participants their award-winning culinary skills. 2019 World Pastry Cup Champion Team Coach, Practice Professor of Culinary Arts Chef Patrick Siau Chi Yin taught the participants how to bake mixed-berries butter cakes and cookies while Chef Soon Pau Voon led the cooking workshop and shared his 2020 IKA Culinary Olympics gold-medal roasted chicken and baby carrots recipe. Both chefs were assisted by their culinary students.
After completing the cooking and baking sessions, the participants sat down for lunch together – enjoying the food they had just prepared. Some were joined by their children and supportive husbands.
The lunch was followed by talks conducted by representatives from two social enterprises – PichaEats and Ibupreneur. PichaEats is a catering service that connects refugees to catering opportunities while Ibupreneur is a catering service that helps B40 women, including stay-at-home-moms and single mothers.
Both organisations’ speakers shared their experiences in setting up and running social enterprises, provided useful tips on how to work with stakeholders, as well as shared knowledge about the importance of social media marketing, product packaging and communicating with clients.
“I learned many skills from the chefs, other participants and the social entrepreneurs. I also made some new friends. Opportunities are very limited for the refugee community and initiatives such as these open up more opportunities for us. I hope to join more workshops like this,” expressed Mozhdeh Qurbani, a refugee from Afghanistan.
“The idea for this event is to share the techniques on how we prepare culinary based products, how we can innovate it further and make it more marketable. We try to teach them what they can do to uplift their business ideas from their homes and everyone seems very happy which makes us very happy too,” said Professor Patrick Siau.