In 2019 the City of Sydney and the Sydney Environment Institute at the University of Sydney jointly created Foodlab, a social enterprise designed to support marginalised food entrepreneurs. What started with workshops and classes for refugee, migrant, Aboriginal and low-income food entrepreneurs has developed into a full-blown incubator, with 20 food businesses – from caterers to market stalls and product creators – so far supported through the program.

“Growing my business professionally was made possible through Foodlab,” Malar Sathasivam, owner of Malaysian catering business Sangee’s Kitchen, tells Broadsheet. “They guided me through all the processes for starting up a business, teaching me marketing, sales, finance and social media skills. I’ve grown in confidence and knowledge of business because of them; as a single mum of three kids with English as a second language, it made a difference to me.”

Now, Foodlab has announced its latest initiative: a commercial kitchen and workspace opening in North Strathfield in the coming weeks, to help burgeoning food businesses take the next step towards success.

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“Our vision is to create a welcoming, safe and affordable shared co-working kitchen for refugee, migrant, women and First Nations food entrepreneurs,” Jamie Loveday, Foodlab’s managing director, tells Broadsheet. “We are creating a beautiful workshop space to help train entrepreneurs on different aspects of business, and for entrepreneurs to use computers to do their admin. We are also co-designing an urban farm right next to the kitchen for entrepreneurs to grow and harvest some of the unique herbs and vegetables they grew up with.”

Loveday says the kitchen will be the first of its kind in Australia, and will continue Foodlab’s mission of championing diverse food businesses in Sydney.

“I have a huge appreciation for all the different cuisines and entrepreneurs that come across our program,” he says. “We have beautiful Malaysian laksa, Zimbabwean sauces, Syrian ma’amoul, Indian dosa, Filipino condiments, bushfood bites. It’s the diversity that makes our organisation beautiful.”

The crowdfunder for Foodlab’s kitchen has hit its target and closed. But you can offer further support and donations, or apply for one of its programs on its website.