Oakland is a community in transition. In the face of a tech boom that is raising rents and forcing people out, Sabrina Mutukisna wanted to make sure the young people of Oakland could find jobs that provide an entry to long-term employment, at a fair wage, that would enable them to continue to live in their own city. The social enterprise that she and her sister founded, The Town Kitchen, provides on the job training, a crash course in entrepreneurship, and a path toward economic mobility for transitional-aged youth, who make and deliver chef-crafted lunch to Bay Area tech companies like Twitter, Microsoft, and Pandora.
“Running a social impact business is so different than running just a regular business,” Mutukisna says. “I mean you’re thinking about your profits, you’re thinking about revenues, but you’re also thinking about the people and your impact, and your mission. Being part of the REDF community and having all these other fabulous entrepreneurs makes you think strategically about how you scale your business, how you generate revenue, but how you do it in a meaningful way.”
For Sabrina, Accelerator workshops that help her tell the story of The Town Kitchen mission, like Authentic Voice and Designing Your Value Proposition, “position us to be able to speak to our funders and our corporate clients in a more impactful way,” she says. “It’s really important that our corporate clients hear our value proposition and get tied to Oakland’s community in a different way. We think that there’s a big power in lunch and in food, and serving people, and talking about community in that way.”
The message seems to be getting out. The Town Kitchen was recently profiled in Inc. Magazine’s online series spotlighting under-represented communities and the entrepreneurs who work to help find solutions. In that profile, Sabrina pointed out exactly the problems social entrepreneurs face, and the Accelerator is trying to solve: “Instead of us trying to do it all it’s like, ‘How do we find the best food businesses, the best community nonprofit partners to give young people a better opportunity?’ It’s really about doing it together as opposed to thinking we can do it all by ourselves.”
One of the first things Sabrina wants to try out with her young employees on her return to Oakland is prototyping the Business Model exercise she learned at the Accelerator. “We think about entrepreneurship as something that is really important for young people of color,” Sabrina says. “Even if they don’t want to start their own businesses, having an entrepreneurial mindset is really, really important. It’s been exciting to talk about social-driven enterprises within the REDF Accelerator and to bring that back, not only to our other founders, but also to our youth employees. The dream is really to think about how we can impact the community by creating positive, mission-driven companies.”
About Sabrina Mutukisna
Sabrina Mutukisna is the Founder & CEO of The Town Kitchen, a community-driven food company that employs and empowers urban youth. Prior to launching The Town Kitchen, Sabrina worked to create sustainable workforce pathways that bridged stakeholders across public and private sectors. Sabrina has 13 years’ experience in Bay Area workforce development, community building, and strategic partnerships. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and board member for New Leaders Council—Oakland.
About The Town Kitchen
The Town Kitchen is a community-driven food company that delivers chef-crafted lunch and employs urban youth. Since launching in January 2015, The Town Kitchen has delivered over 100,000 lunches to corporate clients like UC Berkeley, Schoolzilla and the Golden State Warriors. The Town Kitchen has been recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, and Sunset Magazine. By providing young people ages 15 to 25 with entrepreneurial training, college course credit, and fair-wage employment, The Town Kitchen aims to create pathways to upward economic mobility for young people of color so they can live, work, and build futures in their native cities.