A former Television Journalist, Namrata switched over to the social sector 10 years ago to use her journalism skills to create social impact. With Cooked by Moms, Namrata uses her experience in the social development space to create a sustainable social enterprise that tackles one of today’s most pressing societal issues – the economic and social development of underprivileged women.
Here she opens up with us about influence and impact!
As a media and communications student, I began my career as a television journalist and was fortunate to be a part of the launch team for Times Now in Mumbai, where I learned the craft of effective reporting and visual storytelling. Over the next 5 years, I honed my skills, spending a year abroad studying International Journalism in London, and working on news and sports journalism.
The most exciting part about journalism for me was meeting new people and unearthing each one of their unique stories and perspectives. I often came across people doing incredible work in the field of social development through my work – stories that inspired me and stayed with me for a long time.
While the power of storytelling helped create awareness for their causes, I felt compelled to do more, to be more involved. My best friend and classmate at journalism school shared my sentiments, and we began to have conversations with those working in the social development space about how we could add value to their programs, given the skills we had.
We realised that the skills we had as journalists could be used to effectively communicate the amazing work that these people and organisations did – something that they did not have the manpower or budget for. We worked together to start a volunteer-run initiative called Creatives Against Poverty in 2008, where we connected creative people (filmmakers, photographers, journalists) who wanted to donate their skills, time and training tools for social impact.
My work with Creatives Against Poverty helped me realise that the skills I have can be used more meaningfully, and that gave me a sense of fulfilment and purpose. In 2011, I decided to move to the social development space full-time, working with organisations like iVolunteer and Concern India Foundation, deepening my understanding of India’s diverse social issues.
Having worked with non-profits for over 10 years in different capacities (as a volunteer, communications roles, and then in management roles) one of the biggest challenges I see NGOs struggling with is their overt dependence on donations and CSR funds to keep their programs and operations running and growing.
Sustainability is rare in the not for profit arena, and the model of social enterprises or impact ventures was one that resonated with me as they valued profitability and social impact equally, leading to a more effective and long-term model for change from my perspective. I knew that I wanted to run a venture that was both profitable and had a social impact.
Cooked by Moms was started in 2018 with the idea of creating employment opportunities for underprivileged women communities by making use of their existing skills.
While there are several skill-building programs today for women, most cater to the youth, and very few employment opportunities exist for women who are homemakers or moms, who may be uneducated and unskilled.
I wanted to create a program which leveraged and championed their existing skills instead of pushing them to learn a new skill like computers, or English that was outside their realm.
The more I tried to understand the needs of these women through my market research, I realised that the one skill they all possessed - the common denominator skill - was that of cooking delicious home-cooked food.
These women want to contribute to their family’s income, but their family responsibilities and limitations inhibit them from taking on full-time jobs. Flexible work options, using their existing skills, was what they were asking for.
On the other hand, I also realised that our metros like Mumbai are full of migrants from other cities who most of all, miss their maa ke haath ka khaana. While the food options are many, most of us end up ordering from delivery apps or eating out. The home-cooked, mom-cooked meal is often difficult to access but is craved the most.
To bridge this gap that we saw in the market, I decided that Cooked by Moms would be the platform that would bring home-cooked food to corporates, through food pop-ups and events, to give our moms a form of employment that was both flexible, and helped them add to their family’s income.
The idea was to create a win-win for all our stakeholders - our moms, by generating relevant employment for them, our clients by bringing nutritious home-cooked food to their doorsteps and for us as well to run a successful and sustainable business.
Our 3 key focus areas at Cooked by Moms are:
Through our unique pop-up events, we celebrate and promote hearty, wholesome home-cooking and healthy eating in the workplace, we power the mommy economy by creating careers for homemakers that celebrate mom's cooking and we bring mommy love and care to work, boosting productivity and happiness in the workplace.
As a brand, we stand for high quality, wholesome, delicious home-cooked meals, served with love and care. As a social enterprise, 100% of our mom teams consists of women from underprivileged backgrounds, so as to create opportunities for them economically and socially.
Cooked by Moms aims to bring home-cooked food into the workplace, while giving our mom teams the opportunity to earn, through several unique and exciting formats, such as:
Over the last 18 months, we have built a profitable enterprise that has done over 85 food events with the likes of Siemens, Essar, Vogue India, TiE Mumbai, WeWork, IDFC First Bank where we have served over 12,000 mom-cooked meals through 80+ events. We work with 150+ underprivileged women through Mahila Mandals, SHGs and NGOs across Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and most recently, Pune.
As a part of our skill-building initiative, our cooking workshop series for our mommy partners help them build new skills, with workshops every month by different chefs and food companies, including Foodhall Cookery Studio, Love Sugar & Dough, and Savor Experiences, to name a few.
These are the small steps we are taking to build a robust mom economy.
In the days and months to come, I hope to both deepen and expand the reach of Cooked by Moms, create further sustainable employment opportunities for our mommy teams through unique solutions that are devised from the ground up and my dream is to make it just as easy for each of us - the consumer - to access home-cooked, mom-cooked food at workplaces across India as it is to order junk food online.
You can reach them at:
Contact: +91 9820290764
About Namrata Tanna
Founder, Cooked by Moms
Namrata Tanna is a former Television Journalist who switched over to the social sector 10 years ago to use her journalism skills to create social impact. Over the last decade, she has worked with several Mumbai-based non-profits through an initiative co-founded by her called ‘ Creatives against Poverty ’, which helped creative people donate their time and skills to NGOs in need; and through full-time roles with NGOs such as Concern India Foundation and iVolunteer . Today, she also advises several NGOs and companies with regards to their CSR activities.
Launched in May 2018, Cooked by Moms ( www.cookedbymoms.com ) is a social enterprise that empowers underprivileged women communities by leveraging their existing cooking skills and bringing home-cooked food to workplaces in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Pune. Today, it generates employment for over 150 underprivileged women, having served over 12,000 corporate meals.
She has been on the management team of Vinati Organics Limited since 2006 and balances the technical/manufacturing execution with her marketing abilities combined with new age aggression.