Formed in San Francisco's Mission District in 2005, La Cocina's mission "is to cultivate low income food entrepreneurs as they formalize and grow their businesses by providing affordable commercial kitchen space, industry-specific technical assistance and access to market opportunities."
Rental rates at La Conina's kitchen are $15/hour, versus a more typical $45, and provide people who are running informal businesses out of their homes an opportunity to scale up. As they explain on their website, "We focus primarily on women from communities of color and immigrant communities. Our vision is that entrepreneurs gain financial security by doing what they love to do, creating an innovative, vibrant and inclusive economic landscape."
Kitchen space isn't the only thing La Cocina has to offer. There is also an incubator program that helps women create self-suffcient businesses in the food industry. Participants go through a 4-step process:
- Application and enrollment.
- Pre-incubation, focusing on business areas such as marketing and finances as well as the product.
- Incubation, which includes technical assistance and mentorship for their business along with access to the kitchen.
The program works! Statistics from the video below state that, "In 2013, La Cocina businesses generated 4.1 million dollars in revenue and created 155 jobs."
Those of you in the Bay Area may recognize some of the current participants and graduates. You can check this map to find a La Cocina business near you or visit their kiosk in the Ferry Building.
No matter where you live, you can learn more and meet some of the women involved by watching this SFGovTV video Quick Bites: La Cocina or visiting their press page. They also have a Facebook page to like and you can follow them on Twitter @lacocinasf. As for me, I'm inspired to go eat some food from the La Cocina participants. See you next week!