Why we started in HK
3 main reasons Food culture:
1. positive, vibrant Social
2. issues: prevalent --> how
3. Help HK, both similar, vibrant city, stay on help hk despite
3 main reasons why we started in Hong Kong Food Culture. We all know Hong Kong is known as “world’s food fair” name anything you want and it shall be given to you. The city is more than just about the fancy lights and the concrete jungle, it has a vibrant and appealing food culture. This sets the stage for Dignity Kitchen to be established to give the locals and Singaporeans living in Hong Kong a taste of home and authenticity. Social issues. Although we are running a business, we carry out our mission hand in hand with our business model. Like any other places, Hong Kong also faces major social issues such as serious gap between the rich and the poor, inadequate support to the aging population and support to minorities. This is how we come in we run social projects to engage people from all walks of life including the corporates, organizations, schools, young people, elderly and individuals to be empowered to contribute to society. Dignity Kitchen is a platform for ordinary people to create an extraordinary impact to the socially-disadvantaged. The comparison between Singapore and Hong Kong has always been a topic, there are a lot similarities therefore coming to Hong Kong was less nerve-wrecking. It was a place not too far and not too different.
How we started in HK
6 years ago – not right time
In 2014, we were given a place in Causewaybay but the local authorities asked to tender with other commercial businesses around the area. We turn down the offer from the officials
2 years ago – this is it, get ready!
By 2018 (or 2019?), Urban Renewal Authority (URA) sent us an invitation to come to Hong Kong. At the heart of Mong Kok, a new revitalized building, a historical site became home to Dignity Kitchen. When we first came to see the site we thought this is it, a large space that will fulfill our mission, training programmes and engage people from all walks of life in doing social good through good food.
When we thought everything was going smooth, the unexpected unrest happened. The place we were in quickly became a battleground. There were social movements happening everyday, every weekends and it lasted for months. The project delayed and we thought this was impossible to continue but we cannot stop here. We continue to build Dignity Kitchen despite the movement and in the middle of the storm we made it through the soft launch in December 2019.
When the business started picking up, we made back-to-back media interviews, newspaper started getting interested with us and our story started to circulate around the city and overseas. We were grateful by the response of Hong Kong people. They were ready to do good and they have Dignity Kitchen as the platform to show the appreciation and contribution to Hong Kong.
But our challenges didn’t end, in the first quarter of 2020 there was a wave of coronavirus. Our events were on halt, our lunch treat projects were postponed and because of this situation customers were going less often. Another hurdle we need to overcome, the whole F&B industry is affected but we had to continue doing our social projects, everyday we would cook, prepare and deliver meals to the homeless, elderly and low-income groups. We engage sponsors and individuals to contribute and to do more for those who are in need.
It is not an easy path to start a social entreprise in Hong Kong, especially in the most difficult time in Hong Kong’s history, but we have only started our mission. WE are here ready to stay and serve with DIGNITY.
It is a platform that Singaporeans (and even foreign visitors) understand. Everybody from all walks of life and backgrounds are welcome. This makes achieving integration and inclusion much easier. From a training and placement perspective, there are also lower barriers to entry compared to restaurants.
Most stall owners also specialise one dish. We just had to come up with a system for each hawker and adapt some of the equipment to cater to their needs. We have a one-hand noodle cooking machine, Braille cash registers and worktops that are height-adjustable. From a business point of view, food is also an industry that is constantly evolving. With the development of enabling technologies, implementing cost-effective solutions and user-friendly design, we believe that there is a lot we can do.
About the Founder
Our founder, Koh Seng Choon, grew up in Singapore and lived here for several years before earning advanced degrees in business and international studies overseas. Despite coming from a humble background, Seng Choon achieved success and when he came back to Singapore in the mid-90s, he set up his own consultancy business helping SMEs break into foreign markets. At the same time, he wanted to give back to the community. This started with the occasional volunteering including conducting entrepreneurship classes for prison inmates.
Seeing the plight of those in abject poverty, he felt there was a more sustainable way to solve this problem besides donating time and money. A full-fledged foodie (like most Singaporeans), Seng Choon decided to merge his love for food with a poverty-fighting business model. Project Dignity, one of Singapore’s early social enterprises, began operations with its first initiative, Dignity Kitchen™ . There were only 2 people. 10 years on, the social enterprise has now grown to a 56-strong team of full time staff, 60% of whom are from marginalised communities.
What our customers and partners are saying about us?
Help me to learn team work and knowing that all together can do great thing. and more happier.
Working at Dignity Kitchen taught me the importance of teamwork, knowing we are all together we can do great things. And all of us here are happy to work together.
- Yoyo (Pastry)
My life is more positive
Coming to work at Dignity Kitchen makes my life more positive. Everyday is a brand new day to be more grateful and grateful.
- Raymond (Nasi Lemak)
I never think I can do something like it. it help me to know my ability
I never thought I will be able to learn how to cook or I can do something in my life. Working at Dignity Kitchen made me realize I am capable and see my potentials.
- Raymond (Bak Chor Mee)
More happier and meet some new friend. and learn many things.
When I started working at Dignity Kitchen, I became happier. I met a lot of great people who are willing to accept and believe in what I can do. My chefs have taught me a lot of skills they trust in me I can do it. I learn a lot from them not just cooking but give me a lot of advices and encouragement.
- Carol (Bak Chor Mee)
I learn how to work with people and be more patient.
When I first started in Chicken rice stall, I didn’t know a lot of things but soon after training and with our chef’s guidance I started learning how to cook, cut and prepare a Hainanese Chicken Rice. I am thankful because my chefs and trainers believe in me. Now, I can also share and pass the knowledge and skills I learnt to the new trainees. Although it takes time to learn, but I learnt to be more patient and to endure in the process.
- Rex (Chicken Rice)
Know how to make (Clay pot rice) and trying new thing myself.I was very happy when I found out I can work at Dignity Kitchen, I enjoy working and interacting with my colleagues and customers. I am very proud to learn and cook Clay Pot Rice from my trainers. They have taught me well and know I can share what I learnt to my other colleagues. Working at Dignity Kitchen makes me happy because I can learn new things and meet new people who show their support to us.
Hugo (Clay pot rice)
Help me to be more confident
Before working at Dignity Kitchen, I didn’t have much confidence on my self. But after my chefs talked to me and encourage me I can cook well. I master how to cook Singaporean laksa. I am very proud I can do this because this process is not very easy and it takes a lot of practice to perfect it. Now, I am more confident at cooking laksa because I know that my chefs and colleagues believe in me and love my cooking.
- Sam (Laksa)
I know that I can do thing that I never thought I can do it.At Dignity Kitchen, I learn to do things I never thought I could do. Such as learning how to make traditional Singaporean drinks, kopi, making kaya toast and rojak. I’m happy because I can learn new things.
Angela (Drink Stall)