Agora Food Studio believes in a food system that celebrates biodiversity and environmental sustainability, and creates healthy communities. Agora began as a social enterprise in Timor-Leste, a restaurant that operates on a zero waste model, provides employment opportunities to Timorese people and prioritises the local and ethical sourcing of produce as part of their supply chain. It has since evolved to include a coaching and mentoring program for Timorese food, coffee and tourism entrepreneurs, with their restaurant providing a platform for the testing of food and coffee innovations.
In early 2020, Agora was piloting their first mentorship and coaching program for entrepreneurs with support from USAID. When the first impacts of the pandemic began to be felt across Timor-Leste, they were quick to acknowledge the shift that was happening from international to domestic tourism, which would greatly impact their restaurant and enterprises, as well as the need to shift from in-person training to digital training.
Building on their pilot, and as part of the SFI Program, they delivered a 4 month flexible video-based coaching program to 16 Timorese entrepreneurs, supporting them to build their resilience and respond to the impacts of covid-19 on their enterprises. Through participating in the program, the entrepreneurs increased their capacity to identify, work through and solve business challenges. In addition to one-on-one coaching, Agora provided tailored support on marketing and social media promotion, supporting the entrepreneurs to pivot from international to domestic tourism and customers. A community of practice was also developed for women tourism entrepreneurs, where enterprises continue to share tourism promotional content to obtain feedback from one another.
Another focus of Agora is in developing the coaching and mentoring culture in Timor-Leste, which is still nascent. Through their programs, they are supporting Timorese entrepreneurs to increase their confidence in seeing the value in and accessing business coaching, as well as working with some of them to build their own capacity to become coaches.
As part of the SFI Response Program, Agora’s Directors also got to continue their work with an advisor to support them in their own transition from an organisation focused on hospitality and food innovation to one whose primary mission is to incubate Timorese entrepreneurs.
Connections to future programming facilitated by DFAT to support entrepreneurship in the Pacific
If you would like to learn more about Agora Food Studio or have any questions, feel free to send us an email.
Mark Notaras & Alva LimSend message