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CLIENT NEWS - Providing employment opportunities for refugees around New Zealand is the new goal of Hamilton’s Home Kitchen

Providing employment opportunities for refugees around New Zealand is the new goal of Hamilton’s Home Kitchen

Providing employment opportunities for refugees around New Zealand is the new goal of Hamilton’s Home Kitchen, as it seeks to expand with the help of WEL Energy Trust and the Ākina Foundation.

Home Kitchen, established by Waikato social entrepreneur Tania Jones, is one of three Waikato social enterprises that have received Impact Investment Readiness Grants to help grow their businesses.

Miss Jones will receive $20,000 towards seeking investment to expand Home Kitchen nationwide and investigate other product ranges.

Home Kitchen launched in March this year, after a successful crowd funding campaign.  It currently employs nine refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Burma who operate a pop-up restaurant, catering service and cooking classes in Hamilton.  Miss Jones said funding would allow her to grow the business into other main cities within New Zealand.

The $20,000 is part of a $50,000 Impact Investment Readiness Grant WEL Energy Trust has provided to impact development organisation Ākina, to grow social enterprise in the Waikato.

“We knew in order for us to grow as an organisation we needed to secure investment, and working with Ākina is such a great opportunity to gain access to those professional services to get us investment-ready.”

“We have an investor interested but we need to work on things like our company status, our financial modelling and understanding the market opportunities for a product range so we can successfully grow Home Kitchen.”

“We want to empower and grow Home Kitchen across New Zealand to provide more opportunities for people with a lived refugee background.”

Miss Jones said their impact goal for next year was to employ 25 refugees, but for them to be able to secure investment that could double or triple that meant they could have an even wider impact on many more lives.

“We want to be able to create a centre for belonging and to be able to positively impact these people’s resettlement into their new homes.  Home Kitchen provides an opportunity to share and promote their culture, and through that promote a culture of inclusiveness.”

WEL Energy Trust Chief Executive Raewyn Jones said partnering with Ākina was about helping to grow the ecosystem for investment into businesses that are doing good in our communities, and providing the specialist knowledge and support they need to take their business to the next level.

“We’re excited about growing social enterprise activity in the Waikato and Ākina is the perfect partner for that.”

“This grant is a way of making sure this type of business activity continues to grow in the Waikato and we’re keen to see how we can continue working together.  It’s all about finding new solutions to old problems and new ways to create positive impact.”

Ākina Director Jackson Rowland said it was the third time Ākina had run Impact Investment Readiness Grants, but it was the first time it had run a local version of the programme, thanks to the WEL funding.

“We’re really thrilled to have been able to offer this opportunity targeted to Waikato businesses.”

“Through the applications we received, we’ve seen just how much awesome potential there is in the Waikato.  The previous national grant rounds unlocked over $4 million of impact investing from just $150,000 of grant money, so we’re really looking forward to seeing how much investment will be unlocked by our Waikato grant recipients over the coming months.”

“Our three Waikato recipients are exciting, impactful businesses.  They’ll be using the grant money to help take them to the next level, whether that’s through the development of their business models, funding strategies or getting ready for an equity raise.”