September 12, 2023, Lahore –The Coca-Cola Foundation announced a community investment for the economic empowerment of Pakistan’s home chef’s sector. In their two-year partnership with CIRCLE Women, the Foundation’s mission is to enable improved livelihoods for women, their families and their communities. The $200,000 grant will help thousands of women upskill their business acumen to become professional home chefs and increase their income.

In Pakistan there are about 2 million women who have the potential to upscale their culinary brand onto a commercial food app while making extra income, but remain untapped. For a more robust home food chef sector, however, home-based cooks need a connection to digitally efficient platforms with specialized business training. The unique feature of this program is that it will enable participating women to think like a CEO, so they are resourced even during times of financial crunch.

Saadia Madsbjerg, President of The Coca-Cola Foundation said, “We see that the most transformative ideas that provide scale in women-empowerment programs are connecting women to vast business networks, improving their access to larger digital markets, sustaining a steady customer demand for their services, and diversifying their sources of income. All this can happen while their cost of goods remains low as they operate from the comfort of their homes and serve a sizable customer base.”

While this program has the potential to scale nationwide, it begins first in Punjab where the market for home chefs is mature and exponentially expanding. This impact investment is valuable for Pakistan because only 13 percent women have formal financial accounts. Sadaffe Abid, CEO of CIRCLE Women said, “The Coca-Cola Foundation Home Chef program is designed holistically, it includes digital wallet management skills, access to finance networks, access to mentors, and a specialist curriculum that allows home chefs to become small and medium businesses.”

For Pakistan, foods from different parts of the nation provide a unique yet universal cultural appeal as it defines the hospitality and generosity of the Pakistani spirit. Between 6,000-7,000 women are expected to graduate from this specialized home chefs’ program where they will have learning modules on zero waste and sustainable packaging, marketing and growth fundamentals, and digital-financial skills literacy skills. These trainers aim to reach half a million women across the nation by passing on their knowledge to their communities.

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