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Manq’a: 6 Years of Gastronomy Opportunities for Youth

Manq’a is an education and employment model implemented by ICCO Cooperation. Manqa is established since 2014 in Bolivia, and replicated in 2016 in Colombia. It presents gastronomy as an opportunity for the economic development and empowerment of young men and women. Local and small-scale farmers are generating socio-cultural transformations and propelling an inclusive and innovative education.

Manq’a: 6 Years of Gastronomy Opportunities for Youth

Manq’a promotes food security and sovereignty, sustainable production of food, nutrition, education in gastronomy, youth employment and the value of regional food heritage. We rely on local cooking as the link between family agricultural production and the consumers through an offer of healthy, nutritious and diverse food services.

“On this sixth anniversary, we restate our commitment to offering better opportunities to youth in vulnerable situations. We are proud of having trained thousands of young men and women in gastronomy and, specially, of having consolidated an integral and innovative model for social support and change.” Ariel Tito Correa, Senior Program Officer of ICCO and Manq’a General Manager

In 2019, Manq’a obtained different acknowledgements from national and international institutions, which ratified that the model not only generates a positive impact on society but that it also has the potential to escalate and adapt to other contexts. In Colombia, for example, it offers better opportunities for young victims of the armed conflict. In the city of Sucre, where we have opened 3 schools, Manq’a strengthened the tourism and hospitality sector.

Main achievements of the model:

  • 13 Manq’a schools implemented in vulnerable zones in the cities of El Alto and Sucre. 2 schools in Colombia.
  • 4,200 youths (70% women) trained in gastronomy, life skills and healthy eating.
  • 1,000 in the job market.
  • 870 businesses started and strengthened, which are led by Manq’a youths.
  • 80 ally companies provide better job opportunities.
  • 120 families of small-scale farmers articulated to Manq’a.
  • More than 75.000 people were made aware of healthy eating practices.

“We are proud, because with models such as Manq’a, we aim at new connections between the city and the countryside, translating into better job opportunities for youths, economic empowerment for vulnerable communities, and a strengthening of the agricultural and food systems, aimed towards climate resilience and food security.” Conny Toornstra, Regional Director of ICCO Cooperation Latin America.

In 2019, Manq’a opened its first social restaurant in La Paz, that provides the people an unique gastronomic alternative; food with identity that values local ingredients, the tastes and knowledge of Bolivia. Responsible cooking that promotes healthy and sustainable consumption; social cooking exclusively for Manq’a youths to offer them better job opportunities.

The challenges:

The crisis through the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the economic opportunities, the training and employment that the model offers to youth, especially women. Manq’a is seeking to face the new challenges by taking immediate and important measures to improve the economic and life opportunities. We have developed a virtual inter-learning platform to continue the technical, socio-emotional and business skills training of vulnerable youth in peri-urban and rural areas.

Likewise, the model supports the reactivation of small, youth-led businesses affected by COVID-19. Manq’a seeks volunteering businesspeople for the strengthening of youth-led businesses and promotes cooking with food residues to turn Manq’a into a circular economy model. Also, we have launched a new express version of the social restaurant that offers healthy eating and, at the same time it guarantees jobs for underprivileged youths.

Without a doubt, these have been years of endless learning, challenges, and results that inspire the Manq’a team and its allies to restate the commitment to working for a more justified society with better opportunities for those who are the protagonists of its model: young men and women.

Manq’a is a model of ICCO Cooperation and Melting Pot.

Read more:
Manq’a Cooking Schools for Youth