04/14/2015 06:18 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Restaurant Hires Refugee Women To Break 'Vicious Cycle' Of Hiring Bias That Holds Them Back

A restaurant is serving up some new opportunities for refugee and migrant women.

Mazí Mas, a pop-up restaurant currently located at the Ovalhouse Theatre in London and founded by 28-year-old Nikandre Kopcke in 2012, offers employment and teaches valuable skills to women who are often overlooked in the job industry.

Happy happy days in the Mazí Mas kitchen at Ovalhouse!

Posted by Mazi Mas on Wednesday, April 8, 2015

For migrant and refugee women, finding a job can be a difficult task, and they run into various forms of discrimination while looking for employment.

"We're working with highly qualified women, including a doctor who had her own medical practice in Sri Lanka, but their qualifications aren't recognized in this country," Kopcke told the Guardian. "A lot of them are long-term unemployed. Employers pass them over in favor of younger people who have a recent employment history. It's a vicious cycle."

Mazí Mas seeks to encourage migrant and refugee women to enter the job market, making them less susceptible to exploitation, and help them become less dependent on others for income, according to BuzzFeed. The social enterprise connects with the women through grassroots organizations. The restaurant, which serves global home cooking, has six women, from Brazil, Ethiopia, Iran, Peru, Senegal and Turkey, currently working as chefs. Another four or five are going through their training program and learning transferable skills like kitchen management and menu building, Mashable reported.

(c) Mara DeKlein

Posted by Mazi Mas on Monday, March 16, 2015

So far, the enterprise has boasted positive results.

"All of our chefs have secured further employment in the food industry through their work with Mazí Mas, and three are in the process of developing their ideas for food businesses," the pop-up's fundraising site reads.

Last week, the social enterprise surpassed its goal of raising 15,000 British pounds, (about $22,000), through a crowdfunded campaign, and hopes to set up shop at a permanent location within the next two years, Mashable reported.

Kopcke -- whose restaurant idea was inspired by her godmother, a Greek immigrant to the U.S. who didn't get to live out her dreams of opening a bakery -- hopes that the Mazí Mas model will be replicated by other businesses.

"This model is infinitely adaptable because it is a systemic problem," Kopcke told the Guardian. "I'd like to see it multiplied all over the world, getting people to work and changing women's lives."

Happy International Women's Day!Today we're paying tribute to the unrecognised, unpaid, and undervalued care work that...

Posted by Mazi Mas on Saturday, March 8, 2014

To learn more about Mazí Mas or donate, visit their fundraising page here.

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