By: Joe Zoyhofski
What’s Cooking is an inherently sustainable and socially conscious company. It must be.
Like so many stories about identity, mine starts someplace unexpected: Cuba. My grandma fled Cuba when the Castro’s came to power. About a year ago, she took me there so that she could show me her hometown; in reality, my trip opened my eyes to so much more.
My Cuban cousins live in a small village outside Havana. After half a day of driving down a dilapidated dirt road, we finally arrived at my cousins’ home. One of my cousins, Mayelin, greeted us and showed us around.
Throughout the village, cats, dogs, pigs, goats, and screaming shoeless kids roamed mud streets lined with crumbling concrete buildings. No matter where we turned, I couldn’t look away from devastation.
Even after returning home to Buffalo, I couldn’t stop thinking about my experience in Cuba (which I will speak more about in my Shared Story "Cuba Libre"). I needed to know if anyone else had gone through something like this. I was inspired by people with similar stories who shared the same sentiment— this understanding that we must combat systematic societal problems in our careers. I was especially intrigued by the concept of sustainable business— the belief that businesses must benefit the communities they do business in.
As soon as I started school, I became a student leader in the Social Innovation Collaboratory and Social Impact 360— two organizations that teach students about sustainable entrepreneurship. It is no exaggeration to say that What’s Cooking would probably not have become a reality without the help and guidance of the people in these organizations, and the sustainability principles they introduced me to. I also got involved with the Fordham Foundry and Entrepreneurship Society. I am proud to be a sustainable entrepreneurship leader on campus, but more importantly, I am proud to have started a sustainable business.
My passion for sustainability precedes my passion for entrepreneurship; I have always understood business and entrepreneurship as a medium to create meaningful social change. As entrepreneurs, we have the unique opportunity and responsibility to combat systematic societal challenges by building better businesses for tomorrow. And we can start today. Or, we can look away. The choice is ours.
I chose to create a company that creates change. Through What’s Cooking, I hope to cultivate a culture of home-cooking and being people together to share stories like the ones that inspired me.