Non-profit Spotlight: Giving immigrant and low-income bread bakers a chance at entrepreneurship

LatinaLista — Starting a new business is tough for anyone but if you’re low-income or aren’t completely fluent in English the odds of getting the kind of credit and help needed to launch that business automatically increases. Yet, all an entrepreneur, any entrepreneur, needs to show they can succeed is a little faith from someone who has the money and the means to help.

That’s where Hot Bread Kitchen comes in. Though the name sounds like it should be a bakery, and it is, it’s actually much more — Hot Bread Kitchen (HBK), located in Spanish Harlem’s La Marqueta, is both a bakery specializing in selling multi-ethnic breads made by the foreign-born and low-income women and men chef participants and it’s a business incubator for cooks who are ready to move from their home kitchens to commercial kitchens.

From handmade corn tortillas (Mexico) and lavash (Iran) to focaccia and ms’men (Morocco) to granola and challah, the bakery’s cooks create the breads that they grew up eating to share with their customers. The breads are sold and shipped to a variety of gourmet food stores and restaurants around the New York area and nationwide. Unfortunately, no mention on the web site of any sales to individual bread lovers.

All potential bread bakers need to apply to be part of the business development program known as HBK Incubates. The program offers food businesses the opportunity to grow their first 2 to 3 years without the cost of building and equipping their own commercial kitchens.

The bakers come from everywhere: Antonia was born in Puebla, Mexico; Bouchra from Morocco; and Lutfunnessa from Bangladesh are but a few of the bakers who are putting the tagline of the HBK into practice: “Preserving Tradition, Rising Expectations.”

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