For refugees and immigrants who want to start a food business, the odds are stacked against them. The barriers to entry in the competitive field of food seem insurmountable with a myriad of obstacles: language barriers, high startup costs, rising rental rates, lack of financial and social support, and more. Roughly 50% of resettled refugees in Oakland come without formal employment experience and are unable to secure a first job.
What they do bring is the gift of food: cooking techniques, family recipes, and culinary traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. These culinary gifts are what make Oakland Bloom chefs so special. By honing their existing skills and providing communal support along the way, Oakland Bloom is able to empower refugees to become self sufficient in starting their own businesses, while also providing hands-on training experiences and income generating opportunities to offset economic challenges that our chefs may face throughout the program and their entrepreneurial journeys.