At first, it was an effort to enable their students to maintain their education in a refugee learning centre they volunteered at as tutors in 2013. Kim Lim, Suzanne Ling and Lee Swee Lin cooked up a plan to have the refugees sell home-cooked meals to their fellow university mates, which allowed these families to earn their own income while enabling their children to continue their studies.
The very first chef they approached with this idea was one of their students’ mothers, a Burmese woman whose son, Picha, would ultimately become the namesake of one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 companies. Seven years later, they have now partnered with 20 chefs from Syria, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq and Pakistan, and have served over 135,000 meals prepared by the refugees themselves. Despite being affected by the pandemic-induced lockdown, PichaEats was quick to respond, launching their ready-to-heat meals to expand not only their delivery services but also their e-commerce platform as well.
Built upon wanting to give the refugees a new lease of life, PichaEats intends to become the bridge that shares their stories to the world. “One of our biggest hopes is that Picha can become a role model for social enterprises in Asia. If 10 companies on the other side of the world sees the value and the good that can be done with this model, that means 10 more communities get the help they need,” says Lim.