Entrepreneurs will be able start or grow a food business by renting a shared commercial kitchen by the hour, or as part-time residents. Members who already have specialized equipment can rent to others, offsetting ownership costs. Access to shared professional services such as financial planning, legal or graphic design will allow them to focus on what they love most - product development, engaging customers, telling their story.
It was recently announced that approximately 1/7th of Moldova's population emigrated over the last two years. That's a big hit. A common destination these days are the fields and factories of Europe, because those skills are still strong in Moldova. For the last 7 years we have been working with small producers. We hear time and time again that hurdles to starting a food business are heavy bureaucracy, capital investments, workforce, marketing and supply chain management.
In order to help small food businesses grow, diversify, and become more profitable, we propose a shared kitchen. Incubators like these stimulate innovation by offering specialized equipment and networking with other food entrepreneurs. So far, nothing like this exists in Moldova. For the IT, tech and knowledge sectors there are accelerators, hubs and co-working spaces, but for agriculture and food there are only consulting services, visiting experts and micro-grants.
The idea of a shared kitchen space has been around for quite a while. What's unique in our case is the approach we'll take to adapt it to local needs, resources and culture. We've been using participatory and reflexive methods in our work over the last 10 years. What this means is we tend to invest more of our effort in the people and processes, letting results take on a life of their own. Our site is a long-abandoned tobacco drying facility. In 2 years we'll be certified organic!
This project has provided additional documentation in a PDF file (projdoc.pdf).