By Khyatti Gupta
Enactus IIT Delhi is one of the most comprehensive extra-curricular activities involving components from societal knowledge and community sensitivity to building sustainable social enterprises and management skills.
It aims to create a pool of student leaders who will use their technological and business management skills to make the world a better place to live. The Food for Life Project, an initiative by Enactus is focussed on the Burmese refugee community, a 10,000 member strong community existing in the Vikaspuri area of New Delhi. The present scenario is such that the government does not take the responsibility of these refuges and the onus is on UNHCR to provide for their sustenance. As a result, the Indian community is almost apathetic to the cause of these refugees – be it matters of protection, health, education, administration, legal or general social factors. Enactus IITD noticed that workers in the community often eat at small stalls or shops selling authentic Burmese dishes. These were unique dishes with complex flavours; however, these cooks were barely earning a living through this endeavour. Through this project, Enactus aims to make these cooks use their skills fruitfully and become successful food entrepreneurs.
The Food For Life Project is based on a very strong business model which aims at matching the cooks with the opportunities available on the basis of the specific skill set that they possess. The Project involves identification of cooks, their specific skills and the dishes they specialize in. These cooks then get various opportunities to reach out to the vast Indian food market in Delhi, in the form of stalls in various youth and college festivals, catering opportunities with respectable restaurants and brands, and professional training conducted in partnership with various organizations such as Delhi Food Walks. In the past year, hugely successful Stalls Selling Burmese Food have been set up by the team at various College festivals in Delhi, with total earnings crossing 25,000 INR.
The Project’s primary goal is to provide the cooks with an income that can be sustained with little or no assistance from ENACTUS. It is to ensure steady flow of income for the cooks by collaboration with some known caterers, and hopefully in the future, through their own catering unit.
The ultimate dream of The Food For Life Project is the assimilation and acceptance of the Burmese community, both culturally and economically.