~ Information session February 24 ~
Jacintha Brice, owner of Lyn’s Dream Bakery in Dutch Cul de Sac, is getting ready to take action on her vision of creating a shared workspace, to be used primarily by women wanting to bolster their food businesses. While this was something she had envisioned before, the idea has come up once again, as she’s noticed more people struggling financially. The shared workspace would provide motivated cooks and bakers with kitchen space to create their products, as well as a marketplace to sell them. Not to mention, it makes for better use of available space at the bakery, and can help to offset business costs.
Shared workspaces come with their own set of unique challenges and opportunities. As luck would have it, Brice crossed paths with Delna Buhariwalla and Trishauna Linton. The two, visiting St. Maarten from Ontario, Canada, are the proud founders of Cook-Up Inc., which has just celebrated its first year of operating under this business model. The WEEKender sat down with these industrious ladies to learn more about the concept and its benefits.
Buhariwalla and Linton both have a passion for social development, and background of working in the NGO [non-governmental organisation] sector. One of their focuses has been helping women in immigrant communities to develop businesses.
However, with the NGO sector facing financial difficulties a few years ago – a harsh reality now being felt by many NGOs in St. Maarten – the two decided to start a social enterprise. This is more financially sustainable, while it still keeps a focus on empowerment through social and financial development.
Women, who have joined Cook-Up Inc., benefit from an affordable kitchen space, flexible schedules, and business development skills. For some, it was an important step to being able to expand their market beyond friend-and-family circles. Through business training, they’ve learned more about essentials such as financial planning, setting price points, and importantly, not undervaluing their work.
Sharing workspaces, of course, may not be for everyone, they say. It takes trust, good planning, self-motivation, and a sense of collaboration. Cook-Up Inc. currently serves five clients, each with unique arrangements and fully in charge of their own businesses and schedules.
After sharing thoughts and ideas with Buhariwalla and Linton and learning about their experiences, Brice is closer to setting the plan in motion. She is looking to work with six to 10 motivated people, ideally.
An information session will be held at Lyn’s Dream Bakery on Wednesday, February 24, at 6:00pm. The aim is to launch the project by March 8, International Women’s Day.
Photo: From left - Bakery owner Jacintha Brice, Delna Buhariwall and Trishauna Linton of Cook-Up Inc., and mutual friend and supporter, Cassandra Richardson.