Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez

Hot Bread Kitchen

Poverty Alleviation & Economic Development


North America, United States

Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez 2008 Global Fellow

Bold Idea 

Create a social enterprise model that establishes well-paid baking careers for immigrant women while preserving their traditional baking practices.

Despite the fact that the majority of immigrants to the U.S. are women, their prospects for well-paid careers are worse than those of men. Limited by domestic responsibilities, less education, lack of language skills, acculturation difficulties, and social isolation, women are at great risk of exploitative work, further perpetuating the vicious cycle of poverty. Hot Bread Kitchen captures lost human capital by bringing women’s traditional bread recipes to market, which builds recognition of the contribution of immigrant communities. Paid training in baking, access to a diverse professional and social network, and a flexible schedule allow women to develop careers that work for them. After six months of training, including English and computer studies, the women are empowered to launch their own enterprises, find jobs in the thriving commercial baking industry, or, at this stage of rapid growth, remain in management roles with Hot Bread Kitchen.

Hot Bread Kitchen combines two of Jessamyn Waldman’s abiding passions: social justice for immigrant women and baking. She holds an MPA from Columbia University and a BA in Latin American Studies from the University of British Columbia. She has worked in NGOs and the UN on human rights and immigration issues in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Bosnia, and Guatemala. She has a Master Baker certificate from the New School University and is a baker at Chef Daniel Boulud’s renowned Restaurant Daniel. She was awarded a 2007 Eileen Fisher Grant for Women Entrepreneurs.