NEW YORK, March 26, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- When Manal Kahi moved to New York City to attend the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, she immediately set out to stock her apartment with her favorite staple: hummus. Accustomed to the fresh, homemade variety in her native Lebanon, however, Manal quickly became disappointed with the prepackaged selection she encountered in American supermarkets. "It didn't even come close to what I get back home — the kind my grandmother makes, or my aunt's," she says. "That's when I started making my own."
Manal's homespun hummus soon became a hit among her friends — and looked like a market opportunity to her brother, Wissam Kahi, a graduate of Columbia Business School. The siblings got to thinking: In Lebanon, some of the best hummus was made by Syrian expats; what if they could employ Syrian refugees in New York City to cook and deliver the hummus to individual customers, providing work opportunities for the refugees while offering adventurous foodies an authentic experience? The two then expanded their concept, realizing that the market for authentic ethnic food was much broader than just hummus — and Eat Offbeat was born.
Eat Offbeat employs refugees from around the world to cook their own family recipes and deliver the meals to customers in NYC. Hungry clients place same-day orders online by 4 p.m. and the fresh food is delivered in reheatable containers by dinnertime. Each meal consists of an appetizer, entrée, and side dish, and costs about $20.
Wissam and Manal say the startup aims to provide customers not just with authentic ethnic food, but with genuine cultural experiences. "[We want you to] feel like you're in downtown Baghdad, for instance, or that you've been invited to a chef's own home," Manal says.
Eat Offbeat recently won $25,000 in seed money from the new Tamer Fund for Social Ventures, which provides early-stage Columbia–affiliated social ventures with financial grants as well as access to the resources — such as one-on-one guidance — of the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise. The business currently employs three refugees from Iraq, Eritrea, and Nepal, and has plans to expand to 10 refugees this year and up to 30 by 2019.
To learn more about Eat Offbeat, visit http://eatoffbeat.com.
To learn more about the impact Columbia alumni are making across the globe, visit http://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/curl/columbia-business.
About Columbia Business School
Columbia Business School is the only world-class, Ivy League business school that delivers a learning experience where academic excellence meets with real-time exposure to the pulse of global business. Led by Dean Glenn Hubbard, the School's transformative curriculum bridges academic theory with unparalleled exposure to real-world business practice, equipping students with an entrepreneurial mindset that allows them to recognize, capture, and create opportunity in any business environment. The thought leadership of the School's faculty and staff, combined with the accomplishments of its distinguished alumni and position in the center of global business, means that the School's efforts have an immediate, measurable impact on the forces shaping business every day. To learn more about Columbia Business School's position at the very center of business, please visit www.gsb.columbia.edu.
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SOURCE Columbia Business School