Express news service
CHENNAI: Time and time again, surveys across cultural and ethnic backgrounds have shown that women disproportionately bear the burden of unpaid work.
On the contrary, the COVID-19 pandemic and the norm of working from home have only exacerbated existing gender inequalities.
For working women, this implies the collapse of the demarcation of their professional and domestic spaces. But what about housewives who have always been subjected to unpaid domestic chores on a daily basis?
Besides dusting, washing and washing dishes, cooking is a big part of their endless list of household chores.
It is precisely in this area that entrepreneur Jayashree Thilak tried to make a change with Shero Home Food. Launched in August 2020, the platform harnesses the cooking skills of housewives, sharpens them and enables them to make a living in their kitchens.
“With a few basics, we found that the number of hours a woman spends cooking only doubled after the lockdown. So why not make it a career option and take their talent beyond four walls? This way, they can earn a lot of money without struggling and also financially support their family, ”says Thilak, co-founder.
Cultivate culinary dreams
So far, Shero Home Food has 50 registered home chefs serving different locations around town via Swiggy, Zomato and Dunzo. “We have a simple form on our website.
Once the in-home chef signs up, we do a quick background and cooking check through a video call. If they follow hygiene protocols, we get them the FSSAI license.
Then they will receive training sessions in our demonstration kitchen at Anna Nagar or virtually depending on containment restrictions. They will learn the basics of pantry sourcing, quick recipes, packaging techniques, social media skills, and order management.
This will prepare them to manage their kitchen on their own, ”says Thilak. Shero offers food under three categories – Sambar, poriyal and rasam; Roti, dal & sabji; and my bowl. With adequate quantity and affordable prices at heart, their menu offers 100 varieties of comfort food.
“Some of the popular foods include poriyal, a simple dal, or mixed rice. This is what sets us apart from commercial restaurants, because ours is nothing but homemade dishes prepared to the taste of the customers. Cabbages and soup are doing just as well. We even offer cut vegetables, ginger-garlic paste and idli-dosa paste to make it easier for working women. Quality is a priority, so we make sure everything is prepared fresh and there is no food wasted. We will soon be introducing non-vegetarian and northern Indian products, ”says Thilak.
Shero is more of a women’s empowerment movement than a business, she points out. “We were able to include women of all age groups and even conservative families after gaining their trust. Everyone brings their specialization to the table. They are intelligent, calculating, know their cooking perfectly and have a perfect command of the mess. We just had to take them in hand through the business aspect. We heard from many women about how their lives changed dramatically within months of signing up. That’s what a job can do for you, big or small, it lifts your morale and builds your self-confidence, ”notes Thilak.
Empowerment starts in the kitchen
Among the many home chefs the platform has employed is Ayisha Mariyam, a resident of Purasaiwalkam. A mother of three, the housewife juggles her personal life effortlessly and cooks for Shero, she says. It’s been six months since she joined Shero while searching online for jobs to do from home.
“It was useful to me because I already knew the kitchen and I did not need an investment to register on the platform. I plan and finish my housework, then I start cooking for Shero. You have 30 minutes to prepare an order, so until I have finished preparing an order, I will not be accepting further orders. Sometimes I might not have the necessary ingredients since this is a small scale kitchen. The consumer is kept informed of the other options via Swiggy and alternative arrangements are made. It’s a fairly flexible model, ”says Mariyam. And it’s not just about cooking and shipping.
They receive feedback and are also supported in any way they can. “We have weekly meetings with other home chefs where feedback is discussed so you know where to improve. The backend team are always very supportive in difficult situations during lockdown and restrictions. I am happy to have been able to support my family. I feel empowered.
By making a full commitment with a housekeeper and a slightly better infrastructure, we can make good profits in this business, ”says Mariyam. It was Thilak’s dream to create more entrepreneurs like Mariyam. “Shero Home Food will have 300 home chefs on board by the end of this year. I want women to be emotionally and economically independent. We had mother-daughter, mother-son, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law and husband-wife duos who check in and run the kitchen. It’s nice to see family members supporting their efforts, ”says Thilak. Order on Swiggy, Zomato or Dunzo. For more details visit: sherohomefood.com