Gathering place for food ideas: Agora Food Studio

Located 8.8 degrees south of the equator in Dili,  Agora Food Studio (AFS) is a social-enterprise and 'plant forward' restaurant developing a generation of young leaders in the areas of food, coffee and cultural tourism. Founded in 2016, AFS currently employs 16 Timorese youths (half female, half male) in their first jobs. AFS works with development partners in Timor-Leste to address the SDGs through its three pillars:

  1. Empowering local producers and entrepreneurs
  2. Training and mentoring Timorese youths and communities to innovate with local foods
  3. Normalising environmental sustainability through responsible production and consumption

 

food innovators
AFS's Food Innovators

AFS contributing to the Global Goals 

SDG2: Zero Hunger & SDG3: Good Health and Well–being 

AFS educates its own staff about healthy eating through daily training on curating local, seasonal and healthy menus. As a matter of principle AFS staff taste and eat the same nutritious foods and drinks provided to AFS patrons. The intention here is that this younger generation passes these healthy eating messages onto their families and peers. 

SDG12: Responsible Production and Consumption & SDG14: Life Below Water

Since its inception in 2016, AFS established sustainable kitchen and waste management systems from waste separation, composting and re-using of sanitised bottles, jars etc. Patrons are unable to purchase polluting products (e.g. bottled water, soft drinks or processed foods), but instead are provided with clean drinking water free of charge and either re-usable or biodegradable take-away vessels. Using 90% local produce and shopping predominantly at local markets automatically reduces both the enterprise's carbon footprint and single-use plastic packaging. 

SDG4: Quality Education & SDG17: Partnerships for the Goals

AFS partners with the World Food Programme (WFP) and Oxfam in Timor-Leste to deliver hands-on Food Innovation and Nutrition training to Timorese communities and youths. This model focuses on transforming the edible resources that communities already have - locally grown and wild traditional foods - into tastier, more attractive dishes, particularly for the younger generation. 

SDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth & SDG11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

AFS partners with the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's (DFAT) Innovation Exchange (iXc) and The Asia Foundation to deliver Food Innovation and Taste training to small enterprises (e.g. female entrepreneurs managing guesthouses) seeking to both improve the quality and increase the value of their cuisine for tourists. 

 

Measuring impact 

AFS has designed an online "Impact Dashboard" which provides its team and patrons with up-to-date information on how AFS is contributing to achieving the SDGs. The dashboard is updated automatically through AFS's online Point of Sale (POS) system and kitchen purchasing records. Here's a snapshot:

Dashboard

 

AFS is linking into a community of chefs around the world through the SDG2 Advocacy Hub in order to upgrade and scale-up the dashboard to a global level. This collaboration will enable a network of organisations committed to achieving the SDGs track and share their collective impact, further encouraging their patrons to "vote with their forks" and other food providers to join the movement. AFS is seeking further partnerships to share the Impact Dashboard and can be contacted here.