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FOODIES WITHOUT BORDERS, INC.

Foodies Without Borders is a non profit focusing on empowering youth in developing countries through culinary arts, and sustainable farming.

Photo of Anthony Njigua

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Our idea: Empower Kenyan youth by teaching them core cooking, food handling, and sustainable farming skills that will enable them to participate in the rapidly expanding Kenyan foodie scene. How it works: Foodies Without Borders will facilitate a series of “10 Day Pop-Up Cooking Schools" (workshops) at our flagship project site in Malindi, Kenya. The curriculum will be taught by volunteer chefs and includes: • food safety/kitchen sanitation • food preparation • knife skills • food storage • kitchen management • food ordering/procuring • sauces • animal breakdown • meat preparation • plate presentation In addition to the cooking school, the program will incorporate sustainable farming practices and provide access to information and training on farming practices needed to meet the high demand of quality produce. Strengthening the relationship between farming and food will increase livelihood opportunities for disenfranchised youth, take advantage of Kenya’s strong agricultural industry, harness the momentum of popular social movements such as “Farm to Table,” and bolster the tourism economy by celebrating local identity.

WHO BENEFITS?

This program is specifically tailored to help the impoverished, unemployed, and disenfranchised Kenyan youth.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU

Anthony Njigua is the founder of Foodies Without Borders. He is a Kenyan American chef who aims to give back to society and under served communities whenever the opportunity presents itself. We will promote an integrated model benefiting farmers, fishermen, chefs, restaurants and communities.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

  • Kenya
  • Tanzania

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BECAUSE OF BENEFICIARY FEEDBACK?

Our ideas are intrinsically connected to feedback from our beneficiaries. In fact, the founding of Foodies Without Borders is based on conversations with Malindi youth. Spending time with our beneficiaries has helped form the core concepts behind the cooking school as well as the details for the program such as scheduling the school during the off-peak tourist season, organizing transportation to the school, and finding creative ways to best announce the program information to the Malindi youth.

HOW IS YOUR IDEA UNIQUE?

Food (especially as it is connected to access, nutrition, and agriculture) and poverty have long been concerns of development projects. Our idea is unique because we are focusing on the culture behind food production and connecting it to economic and social issues. Doing this allows us to harness the power of social movements associated with food to a.) use food culture to foster a local "sense of place" in places like Malindi, and b.) increase participation and support for our organization from developed/industrialized places who already participate in the "foodie" movement.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HAS NOT BEEN SOLVED?

Problems in development projects are inherently unique and complex. Addressing them requires creative thinking, awareness, humility, and accountability on the part of development organizations. While the core goal of "empowering Kenyan youths to pursue careers in cooking" is a relatively straightforward concept, obstacles such as public health, racism, sex-trafficking, drug addiction, and terrorist organization recruitment challenge the success of this project.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS IDEA?

One of our biggest questions is how to encourage female participation. Gender stereotypes and cultural traditions that tend to keep girls in the home make it difficult to communicate with them about the school as well as to enroll them as students. We are also concerned at times by the depth of support from host governments in partnering with our organization and are unsure how to encourage a higher level of commitment from the government. However, we are making partnerships on the local level and hope to work our way to the central government in hopes of scaling up our projects and expanding around the country.

IS THIS IDEA NEW FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

The idea is not new, it was envisioned from our founder's childhood. Our founder always wanted to attend culinary school in Kenya but it was expensive and in most cases nepotism is applied in order to insure a spot at the college. Attending culinary school in Kenya almost guarantees some form of employment, but access to culinary training is limited and unaffordable to the locals in Kenyan coastal communities. We registered Foodies Without Borders to extend knowledge to local beneficiaries who are surrounded by the numerous establishment that provide employment, but in most cases locals are not well represented due to lack of culinary education. We recognized the informal skills and passion that the locals posses especially in preparing the intricate and delicious "swahili cuisine" and we hope to create opportunities to the youth and communities who have passion in cooking and would like to participate in the hospitality industry in general. We hope individuals or partners who complete our programs will be in a position to join the workforce or establish food service businesses which we fully intend to support with our expertise and resources moving forward.

WHO WILL IMPLEMENT THIS IDEA?

Volunteers from around the world, as well as locals from Malindi, will implement the program. The roles of these volunteers will range from on-the-ground support staff to culinary instructors. We are also partnering with local restaurants and resorts, who have already agreed to hire interns who have graduated from our cooking school.

The Problem

The local people of Malindi are remarkably resourceful and smart, but they face a number of social and systemic inequities that often result in problems such as heavy drug addiction, public health crises, prostitution, unemployment, child sex trafficking, and radicalization. Currently, many of male youths spend most of their time on the beaches as they try to make a living selling anything they can from crafts, safaris, jewelry, fish, and unfortunately even sex to the tourists. These “beach boys” would particularly benefit from our program, and having spent time with them during an information-gathering trip, they expressed significant interest in our idea of the cooking school.

By facilitating training and guidance in cooking and food preparation, we hope to empower young Kenyans to influence and grow their community’s “foodie” culture, improve their livelihood prospects, and combat some of the prevailing social and economic inequities.

Idea

On one hand, there is a thriving tourism and food industry in need of skilled workers, and on the other hand there are resourceful local youths in need of employment. The idea behind Foodies Without Borders is simply to fill the gap by empowering young, local entrepreneurs to benefit from and expand the food industry in their communities.

Context

Located on the Kenyan coast, the town of Malindi relies heavily on its tourism industry and caters to its large population of Italian expatriates. Despite the booming tourism and food culture, many Kenyans are not benefiting from the money tourism produces. The immense contrast between the brilliant five-star, foreign-owned resorts and inhumane living conditions of the locals shows there is significant opportunity to close the social and economic gap that exists between the wealthy tourist industry and the local communities. Part of Malindi’s inequity problem is that despite youths’ aptitude and eagerness to work, they do not have access to training that would enable them to find employment. Foodies Without Borders would address this problem by bringing the necessary training and equipment to them.

Malindi serves as an ideal place to launch our pilot project because of its high youth demographic and already thriving restaurant and food culture.

Collaboration

A number of brand resorts, hotels, and restaurants in Malindi have already agreed to host internships for students who complete the workshop. These internships will provide extensive experience, potentially leading to full time employment within the industry as well as the creation of new start-up restaurants by the students.

Our organization relies heavily on a well-organized and coordinated teams of volunteer professionals to promote and build on the vocational skills many of the youth already poses. This team will be formed by over-seas volunteers, predominantly from the US, as well as permanent local members based in Kenya.

There are also opportunities for families, food enthusiasts, volunteers and  US-based restaurants to sponsor students, and donate cooking supplies as well as participating on our upcoming mission trips to Africa in 2017.   


SHARE ONE SENTENCE ABOUT THE IMPACT YOU WOULD LIKE THIS PROJECT TO HAVE FIVE YEARS FROM NOW, AND ONE QUESTION YOU NEED TO ANSWER TO GET THERE.

We want Malindi to be known globally not only as a beautiful travel destination renowned for its thriving food culture, but also as a success story for its home-grown entrepreneurs who embody self reliance and innovation. How can Foodies Without Borders best tell Malindi's compelling story as a way to harness the current opportunities for Malindi's youth and build infrastructure that supports social, economic, and cultural richness?

MY ORGANIZATION'S OPERATING BUDGET FOR 2015 WAS:

  • Under $100,000

MY INTENDED BENEFICIARIES ARE:

  • Within 50 km of where our team does most of its work

HOW LONG HAVE YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES BEEN WORKING ON THIS PILOT PROJECT TOGETHER?

  • More than a year

WHY ARE YOU INTERESTED IN JOINING AMPLIFY'S PORTFOLIO OF INNOVATORS?

Amplify provides a wonderful platform of support that enables organizations like ours to thrive and showcase our ideas. We were thrilled that the challenge was so applicable to our organization's cause. It has been an honor to participate in the program this far, as it has opened up connections that we might not otherwise have been exposed to and challenged us to improve our ideas.

18 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Anthony Sankale
Team

Big Up Chef Ital is Vital ! Great idea let me know how i can help to propel this idea to the next level, anything to uplift the African youth man.

Photo of Jamhuri Wear
Team

There is an old African saying that says, "The young trees of today are the future forest of tomorrow.
Kudos! your project is a clear indicator of fostering the future through dignity.
THIS IS GREAT WORK that really will make a great impact in this communities.

Photo of Adam Porter
Team

Wow! Despite the obvious multitude of sustainable benefits that this organization would be able to execute if given the ability, there is another set slightly less tangible but equally as powerful results that manifest when teaching an one to cook for themselves and others. As a lifelong shifter those worked in all types of kitchens with all types of people I came with confidence say that the empowerment and self-knowledge and confidence that comes out of a hard-working kitchen is irreplaceable and will yield exponential benefits upon..

Photo of Anthony Njigua
Team

Thanks Adam,
A vision can be turned to a goal and then reality! We will continue to support the youth of Kenya Africa and beyond. We will keep you posted on our progress!

Photo of Martin
Team

Thank you for sharing such a wonderful journey and giving the youth an opportunity to better themselves. I look forward to learning more about the project as time goes by.

Photo of Anthony Njigua
Team

Thanks Martin, we are excited about this new experience and the opportunities it has provided our oranization. We will update you with our progress on our upcoming projects.

Photo of Pamela Gray
Team

Sooo, you already know I LOVE this idea. One thought that came to mind is in regard to the"front door" of the business. You can have the most beautifully prepared food on the planet, but if customers are not greeted and served well, they won't return. Perhaps someone else is handling that end of the business/training? It's critical and might offer an employment and training option for those less interested in the cooking part. Also, for all those multilingual youth, what a great place to utilize those skills!!!

Photo of Anthony Njigua
Team

Thanks Pamela, for the input, as a matter of fact "customer service" was one of the motivating ideas that went hand in hand with the conceptualisation of our project and overall mission of our organization. In Africa "customer service" basically does not exist as we know it in the west, but there is increasing demand and the rewarding of businesses that have established a culture of impecable customer service. In our curriculum, we will teach it and broaden it through our partners who will provide internships and experiences in the "real world." Thanks for your support and interest we will keep you in the loop on our progress.

Photo of Sammy Waithaka
Team

Great project. Teaching people to create Food with skill is an amazing gift you are giving. I support this 100% in all ways.

Photo of Njeri Gitau
Team

A very noble course.

Photo of Anthony Njigua
Team

Looking forward to meet like minded individuals in the near future and truly implement this project as it continues to get a lot of buzz from the grassroots in Malindi and beyond.

Photo of Njeri Gitau
Team

Keep up the good work.

Photo of Njeri Gitau
Team

Awesome project. Looking forward to volunteering and giving back to the community that has given so much to me.

Photo of Laurie Rebecca
Team

This sounds like a great project with a lot of potential. Good luck and keep us posted for future volunteer opportunities.

Photo of Chelsea Takamine
Team

Hi Anthony and Team! Amplify and our experts have some comments and questions for you - we encourage you to think about this feedback as you continue to improve and refine your idea.

-This is a great Idea transported into a new place. The idea of a popup school is great and will meet a need in Malindi. There is high need for youth based skills programs and this would be unique but well suited to the region.
-Great initiative meeting a very real need. Food is a key space to engage in Kenya and with youth. There is a need to create more value addition programs for youth in agriculture as well in Kilifi county. I encourage you to look closely at how this is connected to local market opportunities and also to jobs at the end.
-How will you help find places for the youth that participate in the program? This could be a key success metric.
-One area you could consider thinking more about is local market linkages to local employers restaurants, farmers etc. This is critical for the youth to find opportunity.
- You could consider identifying the top 2 in each class have opportunity to return in next class as "training instructors" to further help this sustainability.

In case you missed it, OpenIDEO and Amplify hosted a Storytelling Office Hour - https://youtu.be/g0gZRR6T9tA. Storytelling is an incredibly useful tool to articulate an idea and help make it come to life! Don't forget - December 18th is your last day to make changes to your idea on the OpenIDEO platform.

Looking forward to reading more!

Photo of Anthony Njigua
Team

Thanks so much for the feedback!
- It's true that making connections to local market opportunities is important. In fact, a number of local restaurants and resorts have already agreed to hire interns who graduate from our program.
- We actually already have a place to implement the cooking school lined up--a resort owner has offered space and even support staff to help with the 10-day Pop-Up Cooking School.
- We like the idea of bringing back students to help with the cooking school. We are hoping to be able to implement this in the future--not only to hire former students as instructors for the school, but also to hire them as consultants for Foodies Without Borders, perhaps even as restaurant owners who hire interns from our program.

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Hi Anthony Njigua , this is an interesting post! Remember the deadline for the challenge is October 31, 12pm PDT and just a few days away! To have your idea be visible and eligible for the next phase of our Challenge, publish your submission by hitting the Publish Entry up at the top of your post. Excited to see more of your inspiring insights on OpenIDEO!

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Hi Anthony, great to have you onboard! We notice your post is currently unpublished. Was this your intention? Publishing your post early is a great way to get feedback and develop your idea before the deadline. If you decide you'd like your idea to be visible and considered for the next phase of our Challenge, you can publish it by hitting the Publish Entry up there at the top of your post. Or update it first by hitting the Edit Contribution button. Looking forward to seeing more of you in conversations across this challenge.