WES Mariam Assefa Fund Grantee Partners

Oakland Bloom

Category: Skills and Supports

Amount: USD$100,000

Term: October 2020 – August 2022

Focus: Oakland Bloom is building a cooperatively run commissary kitchen, marketplace, pop-up, and community gathering space for immigrants, refugees, and people of color to develop, pivot, and (re)launch their food businesses in community with one another.

About Oakland Bloom

Oakland Bloom’s mission is to advance economic equity and create pathways to business ownership for poor and working-class refugee and immigrant chefs in Oakland, Calif., by providing food entrepreneurship training, income-generating opportunities, and hands-on support to aspiring chef entrepreneurs from refugee, immigrant, and low-income communities who are seeking to launch their own food businesses.

What type of work will the grant enable?

Oakland Bloom is expanding its work to meet the needs of its chef-entrepreneur clients. Oakland Bloom is coordinating paid opportunities for chefs to receive hands-on training, obtain commercial cooking experience, and earn income while refining their recipes and businesses through catering, chef demos, teaching opportunities, and pop-ups. Oakland Bloom also support chefs as they navigate social services, and provides stipends, interpretation services, and childcare for its clients.
The grant is also supporting two new initiatives. The first, a collectively owned commissary kitchen, has been a long-time goal of the organization’s. Oakland Bloom is working to complete the buildout and launch of a space for the kitchen collective in partnership with worker-owners. The kitchen will be run in partnership with community organizations and worker-owners. Oakland Bloom is also exploring opportunities to launch a restaurant group cooperative that will provide start-up funds, back-end technical support, and shared financial risk to new food businesses. The cooperative model will center chef leadership, decision-making power, and equity in the new businesses.

Why is this work important?

Most chefs in the Oakland Bloom network are women of color, mothers, and the sole providers for their households. Many are English language learners who may face additional barriers because of their immigration status. Oakland Bloom’s work is designed specifically with these realities in mind, to support the creation of accessible pathways to business ownership for its chefs. The holistic approach also fosters a sense of community and a wide network of support for its entrepreneurs. Learn more about Oakland Bloom and the immigrant chefs they partner with in an article published in The Oaklandside.