In Bolivia, 40% of the population is between 10 and 30 years old, which means there is great potential for economic growth and development. However, as unemployment rates in Bolivia reach 8%, the percentage of young people not having access to fair, stable and paid work is almost double this, at 15%. Most of the youth who are employed face a number of challenges including poor working conditions, lack of benefits and job stability, labour exploitation, and discrimination in the workplace as well as remuneration below the national minimum wage.
In the last four years, ICCO Cooperation has been developing a training programme for schools called Manq'a (meaning “food” in the local Aymara language) aimed at generating employment opportunities through food for young, low-income Bolivians.
Manq'a is part of the Youth Entrepreneurship Program (YEP) in Latin America and the Caribbean, Youth Business International's regional programme aimed at helping underserved young people across 11 countries to start, grow and sustain a business.
Manq’a sees in gastronomy an opportunity for development of both rural and urban economies; a place where consumers and producers can connect through local cuisines that represent not only the food culture but also the richness of biodiversity. Gastronomy also represents an opportunity to develop and empower groups of people at risk – such as youth, women, indigenous and rural people – as it can bring in income and contribute to the improvement of their diets.
Through food, Manq’a is tackling social and economic injustice by creating a movement of cooking schools that train unemployed young people to become chefs. The Manq'a schools specialise in cooking with locally-produced, organic ingredients, which boosts the market demand for local farm products, as well as promoting healthy and sustainable food consumption.
Manq’a works with three of the most important groups in the culinary chain:
For a social and business model to be successful in terms of results and impact, it is increasingly essential that it be innovative and sustainable. Radical changes, such as the use of new technology in business models, may lead to the reconsideration of relationships with customers, suppliers and key partners and the redefinition of products, services and processes from new perspectives. This in turn leads to an increase in sustainability.
Started in El Alto, Bolivia’s second-largest city, Manq’a is a responsible movement producing social, environmental, cultural and economic sustainability:
By using this framework, Manq’a seeks to become a social franchise with the ability to sell its educational and commercial business models. In turn, the profits will be reinvested to support young people who lack opportunities.
Manq’a believes its social franchise model will generate community benefits through its proven, replicable operating models and will contribute to tackling social needs such as unemployment, lack of education and lack of food. It will also enable Manq’a to access additional sources of financing, and lead to the development of new, quality products and services, which generate income for all those involved.
Finally, Manq’a plans to create micro-franchises for young entrepreneurs working in food services, offering specialised technical assistance and support, and a brand that serves as a mark of quality assurance. Each business must also work towards a social goal, such as providing jobs for other disadvantaged young people or graduates from the same Manq’a schools.