About this project
Economic development is booming in Oakland, California! But many local youth still face steep barriers to securing good jobs in the Bay Area’s competitive workforce. Mamacitas Cafe's mission is to create fair wage jobs, specifically for young women of color ages 18-24, and to expand employment and leadership opportunities for youth in transition from the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
Our team started Mamacitas Cafe almost three years ago as a way to ensure that all Oakland youth have access to economic stability and to the healing they need to thrive.
We’re ready to expand our youth-centered enterprise and we need your support!
We believe this scenario is a win-win for our community! Last year Mamacitas tested this model on a smaller scale when we operated a retail space in downtown Oakland at Qulture Collective. At that location we provided part-time job opportunities, ongoing leadership training, and sisterhood to six young women in Oakland.
We have found an excellent retail location to grow our operations, which will transform six part time positions into full-time jobs for our youth, and enable us to expand our catering services which will add several more part time positions in the short term. This retail space will serve as an important stepping stone as we continue to scale up our business to create even more jobs. We have a rock solid team, incredible advisors, an innovative blueprint, and a great location.
Now we need the support of our community to secure our lease and bring this expansive vision to life!
Our approach is to to provide long-term and high quality services for our youth in a restorative environment. If you like this vision and you want to see it manifest, contribute what you can and support your local Mamacitas!!
We believe that connection, imagination, and economic empowerment are key! Mamacitas Cafe is a holistic approach to community development, placing the power for economic growth directly in the hands of those most harmed by systemic marginalization.
Our goal is to establish clear pathways to upward mobility in a stable, supportive, and educational environment. We believe that Oakland’s young women are extremely capable leaders and we aim to offer mentorship and sisterhood that will build their skills and confidence.
We have partnered with Mills College’s Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business to offer professional coaching and mentorship to our staff. In addition, for young women who want to launch their own enterprise, we will provide one-on-one coaching. This exciting partnership will nurture our team and support them in translating their unique ideas and skills into concrete economic opportunities.
We are currently ironing out the final details of a lease to move into a 3,000+ square foot cafe with a commercial kitchen and a built in market of 400 office employees. The location is centrally located, close to public transportation and will be open to the general public as well. Unfortunately, we cannot release specific details of the location until the deal is finalized as we are negotiating with government and local agencies.
At this location, Mamacitas will serve breakfast, lunch, and snacks and will operate a full Red Bay Coffee and espresso bar. The building also has a number of meeting rooms and a large scale auditorium that can host conferences. Mamacitas plans to be the preferred caterer and is excited to offer coffee, breakfast, and lunch options for all in-house meetings.
Now more than ever our communities are feeling the pressure of rising rent and economic pressure. The importance of building hyper local spaces to be a hub for grassroots organizations and youth of color is key to preserving space in our changing Oakland! It is imperative that we strategically align with other organizations, agencies and businesses in Oakland in the face displacement to help hold each other up.
Click the green button if you believe in this vision and contribute what you can!
Mamacitas Cafe has emerged organically from the community and is led by a multi-racial and intergenerational team. Founding members Simone Obidah, Shana Lancaster & Renee Geesler are all fierce advocates of Oakland and are committed to building racial and social justice in our town.
Simone Obidah is a chef, educator and mentor in the buddhist community. Simone has cooked at a number of popular Bay Area restaurants including Miss Ollie’s in Oakland and Gather in Berkeley.
Shana is an artist and a third-generation Oakland resident who is deeply connected to the city’s unique landscape. She has over 17 years of experience in the food service industry and served as Program Director for a youth workforce development program housed at California Lawyers for the Arts.
Renee is a community builder, communications strategist, and rock-star mom. She founded Mamacitas Cafe after 10 years in public radio and community work. Renee also serves as the communications coordinator at Akonadi Foundation, an organization that supports and nurtures racial justice movement building.
Mamacitas Cafe is also proud to partner with Perla Yasmeen Meléndez, of Two Mamacitas Kitchen. Perla is an entrepreneur, an educator and healer and will coordinate healing services for Mamacitas staff.
We are also proud to have an incredible advisory team including;
Darcelle Lahr, Professor of Business Practice, Mills College Lorry I Lokey Graduate School of Business
Keba Konte & Kori Chen, CEO & COO, Red Bay Coffee
Jose Corona, Director of Equity and Strategic Partnerships, City of Oakland Office of Mayor Libby Schaff
Jefferson Sevilla, The Town Kitchen
Betsy Beros, Executive Vice President, Jordan Real Estate
Our rewards are made with lots of love! Contribute today and choose from one of our many amazing gifts!!
Risks and challenges
We're working hard on mapping out our launch to ensure that we can roll out both our catering operations and ramp up the retail space in the next 6 months.
Our team and advisors have decades of training, food service, and entrepreneurial experience between us and we are comfortable working with each other and with demanding deadlines. However, there can always be the risk of delays during the opening of a new restaurant that could result in pushing our timeline back.
Since the nature of this project is collaborative, we will keep you informed throughout the process of our progress and major milestones, as well as any delays. These delays won’t impact your rewards.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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