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Gastronomy to empower young migrants in Colombia.

Building bridges between young Venezuelan migrants and internally displaced persons and their communities through training in gastronomy .

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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

There are two main migrant populations in Colombia: (i) internally displaced persons, victims of Colombia's years of internal armed conflict. Between 1985 and December 2018, there are an estimated 7.8 million internally displaced persons (RUV, 2018). In the first quarter of 2019, nearly 25'000 displaced persons were registered nationwide (RUV, 2019). (ii) Venezuelan migrants, as a consequence of the political and economic crisis the country is suffering. It is estimated that 1.4 million of the 4.2 million Venezuelans who fled the country currently reside in Colombia (R4V, 2019). As a consequence of their migration, these two populations face similar problems that cause their marginalization: Economic: in their new context, settled in vulnerable neighbourhoods, these populations do not find opportunities that would allow them to settle and contemplate a stable future. Cultural: after leaving their cultural or peasant origins these young people are living a rupture in their identity. In urban areas, there is still a lot of discrimination towards the countryside’s people, and Venezuelans also encounter a lot of xenophobia. This cultural marginalization prevents them from developing with dignity and pride. Social: migration implies a social and family rupture. In a new context, marginalised, migrants do not find social or family support networks, which increase their vulnerability and the risk of falling into dissocial behaviour (alcoholism, violence...) or illegal activities (delinquency, human trafficking...). Manq'a intervention combines these different dimensions in a single model, using Gastronomy as a tool for inclusion and change. Through their training in gastronomy, displaced young people and Venezuelan migrants gain life and work opportunities, revalue local products and gastronomic knowledge strengthening their cultural identity, and create spaces of encounter and reconciliation that allow them to develop with dignity and Peace.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

The project will be implemented in Colombia, in the cities of Bogota and Cali, where two Manq'a schools have been operating since 2015. These urban centers attract many migrants and displaced people in search of better life opportunities. However, most are relocated to poor neighbourhoods. The project focuses on these most vulnerable populations: Venezuelan migrants, internally displaced persons, as well as low-income non-migrants, creating bridges between them.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

MANQ'A creates bridges between the three most important groups in the gastronomic chain: - Chefs (young migrants): through training in gastronomy, creating bridges of inclusion in society. - Small producers: connecting them to the demand from Manq’a schools. - Consumers, who improve their eating habits and consume healthy food The project also fosters bridges between migrants, displaced people and non-migrants, so that they can share their experiences, difficulties and dreams.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Most of the beneficiaries have already covered their basic food and housing needs. However, migrants and displaced persons, due to their migratory situation, have very little hope in life. Therefore, the project focuses on empowering them so that they can live with autonomy and dignity, and become agents of change in their community. In the first place, Manq'a offers confidence and job opportunities through its technical training in gastronomy and its accompaniment to employment or entrepreneurship. The training creates spaces for encounters that improve their social-emotional skills: conflict management, leadership, gender... that allows them to be included in society and to develop with happiness and Peace. Manq'a approach also focuses on the valorization of local products and gastronomic knowledge, which allows young people to reconnect with their origins and strengthen their cultural identity that was lost in the migratory process.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Manq'a model creates sustainable impacts on the 3 main problems migrants face: - It improves life opportunities: once trained, Manq'a accompanies the young people in the definition of their life plan, and then in their labour insertion or the creation of their own sustainable enterprise, giving them back their dignity and hope. - It strengthens cultural identity: combining the revaluation of food heritage, traditional products and knowledge with gourmet and modern techniques, the training gives meaning to young people who find themselves at the crossroads between rural and urban world, tradition and modernity after their migratory journey. - It strengthens their social and family networks: the training creates spaces for exchange, encounter and reconciliation after having suffered from the migratory process, which allows young people to reflect on their social relationships, create networks of mutual support and friendships that durably reduce their social vulnerability.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

Through more than 5 years of project experience in Colombia and Bolivia, young people have been able to observe the great transformative potential of gastronomy. The main result that inspires us to continue our work is to see these young people feel dignified again: to begin to believe in their potential and their skills, to value their cultural roots, and to reconnect with their families and society. We are convinced that the young chefs of Manq'a, empowered, become actors of change in their family and community: even after the project, they continue to transform society with proposals of healthy and responsible food, and showing an example of dignity with their business or their work.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

The schools are located in peripheral areas in Bogotá and Cali, in localities with the highest levels of family and social violence; in these areas, delinquency and the presence of illegal armed groups increase the risk of young people being recruited. Of the total Venezuelan migrant population, 51.2% arrives in Bogotá and 0.9% in Cali. Young people between 20 and 39 years of age represent 73.6% of the total percentage of migrants. Being unemployed is not among the causes that have motivated Venezuelans to emigrate, 87.3% had a job before leaving the country. Those who emigrate consider among their reasons the right to life, freedom, security, food, health, to live a dignified life and to have peace of mind. Migration is a complex process motivated by various reasons, some voluntary and others forced: 83.6% have emigrated looking for safer environments and 31.2% were forced to move from their original site. (Report on Venezuelan Human Mobility. 2018)

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

Considering that migrants pursue an improvement in the living conditions of themselves and their families, the current migration situation has increased labour competition where professional workers are available. In this context, creating new markets for new or different products in gastronomy is considered as an approach with high potential that can have a positive impact on macroeconomic indices. Including migrants in this objective empower their role in society, and avoids the creation of negative images of them by the host society in a perspective of social cohesion. The project, through the training in gastronomy, empowers migrants’ capacities and potential, providing new professional and human skills, while empowering their previous abilities. Moreover, rescuing foodstuff and gastronomical knowledge from their cultural origins, the training value the participants’ knowledge and identity.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

Manq'a developed alliances with numerous actors in Colombia to further strengthen the potential of young people: • Fundación El Pequeño Trabajador – support the training process in Bogotá • Corporación Cívica Daniel Gillard – support the training process in Cali • Fundación San Isidro - articulation with producers to supply schools with organic food • Agency for Reincorporation and Normalization - insertion of demobilized persons • National Unit for the Care and Reparation of Victims - insertion of displaced persons • Fundación Escuela Taller de Bogotá – certification as kitchen technicians • Local Direction of Education – licence for certification of the training (in process) • Restaurants: MiniMal, Donostia, Panóptico y Tábula, Platillos Voladores, Carne y Maduro, Antigua y Contemporánea, etc - labour insertion

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Service: A new or enhanced service that creates value for end beneficiaries

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Majority Adoption: We have expanded the pilot significantly and the program product or service has been adopted by the majority of our intended user base (i.e. 50% to 83% of the target population or 50,000 to 1,000,000 users).

Group or Organization Name

Manq'a ( means "food" in aymara language)

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

The Manq'a project was born in 2014 in the city of El Alto, in Bolivian Andes, where there are young people whose parents or grandparents have migrated from the countryside to the city. To date, Manq'a has 12 schools in this country, and has trained more than 3'800 vulnerable young people. In Colombia, since 2015, more than 500 young people have been trained in our schools in Cali and Bogotá, focusing more on the issue of migration. Each school trains an average of 60 young cooks per semester. Manq'a is like a big family, which gathers around the idea that gastronomy can change the world. At its center are the young people who are empowered and who spread their ideas and dreams throughout the organization. Then there is the technical team: facilitators, area managers and administration team whose objective is to support young people in their transformation as an actor of change. A committed and multidisciplinary team that works under the motto of innovation.

Website URL:

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country

Bolivia and Colombia

Organization Headquarters: City / State

La Paz and Bogotá


Join the conversation:

Photo of Diogenes Infante

Hola, Mi nombre es Diógenes Infante tengo propuesto esta idea: Creo que tenemos varios puntos comunes, uno sobre todo: nuestros migrantes. Vamos a conectarnos, aquí en el norte del Ecuador tenemos una comunidad de profesionales que estamos organizándonos para trabajar en la atención de los migrantes. Por ejemplo, estamos desarrollando sensores inteligentes para la agricultura y tenemos una propuesta de una granja. Por favor, revisa mi propuesta y déjame tus comentarios. Así vamos avanzando. Saludos.

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