Cook Me A Living is an initiative through the Facebook Community Leadership Program and helps individuals start and grow their businesses in food. It is an initiative that helps individuals view food as a source of empowerment and a means of earning a livelihood.
“I was the one who came up with the concept as the Founder and admin of Let’s Cook Kenyan Meals which is the leading social foodie group in Africa on Facebook right now. I came up with the name and I am supposed to run the project using the Facebook Community Leadership Program Award,” Pamellah told Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa.
Pamellah was among six Kenyans who walked away with millions of shillings last year after they were recognized and chosen by Facebook to serve as community leaders in residence, fellows, and youth participants. Facebook Community Leadership Program is a global initiative that invests in people building communities.
In 2018, Facebook announced 100 groups globally which were having a positive impact in the society and Let’s Cook Kenyan Meals, made it to the list.
However, before Facebook came calling, Pamellah was already teaching Kenyans how to turn food into a currency.
“This project started way in 2017 even before the Facebook Award but it did not have a name. It started out as Cooking with Pam in my Official Facebook Page. My vision was to train more and more jobless youth and women to look at food as a source of income and livelihood. “
One of the biggest obstacles holding back many jobless Kenyans from venturing into food businesses is the fact that many view food businesses as an extremely expensive venture requiring fancy utensils and sophisticated kitchenware. Even the recipe is still loaded in jargon ordinary people cannot easily understand.
Pamellah wants to change this and has partnered with local chefs who are busy breaking these myths by showing Kenyans how to cook otherwise fancy meals using ordinary kitchenware.
On Monday, when Business Insider met with ‘Cook Me A Living’ team they were busy cooking Scotch eggs, pan-fried paprika chicken breast, Chateau potatoes, assorted salads and sweet chillie sauce using ordinary utensils found in many Kenyan homes.
“The reason why we are using these ordinary utensils is we want to attract many Kenyans to try cooking by simplifying it, many of them are usually discouraged by thinking that they need to have sophisticated and fancy kitchenware before they can cook, that is not the case,” Otuomo Mwafrika, a chef told Business Insider.
Pamellah has gone even further and occasionally conducts training sessions with caterers on emerging topics such as costing.
“The best part of this initiative is that so far I have been able to create yet another group now specifically for Caterers which has a membership of 17,000 caterers worldwide. In the project database, I have about 300 caterers who have signed up to be part of the training team. In my project paper, I had said I would have at least 94 trainers on board by the end of the project and I am amazed to have 300 in my database and still growing. With this kind of growth, we have launched a Caterers Hub App on Google/Play Store that will enable clients to get caterers of their choice and also allow vendors in the food industry to sell their wares at a small monthly fee.” says Pamellah beaming with pride
Pamellah says the journey has been very fulfilling and more and more individuals are now feeding their families and taking their children to school just because they dared to be part of this initiative. Renowned and seasoned chefs like Dennis Chuili and Otuomo Mwafrika are also coming on board to help in the initiative by offering training in the different aspects of the catering business.
“The journey has been very exciting and fulfilling. Initially, I could not reach as many people as I wanted to but with the Facebook grant and now being able to do much more. More and more individuals so far are now feeding their families and taking their children to school just because they dared to be part of this initiative. We have now gone onto training online through the most popular program called “Monday Live” which has become a must watch session in the group.” Says Pamellah.
The journey has, however, not been without its fair of challenges. Getting more partners to work with is among the biggest.
“We need players in the food industry to come on board and help with changing lives by either sponsoring a number of jobless youth and women to get the training. The manufacturers are also welcome to sponsor in kind.” Pamellah pleads.
Currently, Cook Me A Living is only running in Kenya but there are plans to roll it out in Uganda and Senegal soon and teach other Africans how to earn mouthwatering profits using food as a currency too.
“I am working fellow Facebook leaders from Africa e.g. Uganda and Senegal to roll out this concept there as well. This concept can, however, be used globally as unemployment is not only a Kenyan or African problem, it is a global problem. I intend to roll this out to other continents as well.”