Wellington refugee food enterprise helping 'in a smart way'

A Wellington food enterprise that recruits former refugees is looking to expand its customer base to bigger jobs.

Pomegranate Kitchen employs seven women from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Ethiopia, and is moving to a bigger kitchen at Mojo Coffee this month.

Newshub spoke to co-founder Rebecca Stewart about how Pomegranate Kitchen came to life seven months ago.

She says there's been a "groundswell of support" from the community.

"There's a lot of goodwill from New Zealanders. There's always people who are keen to give times and goods."

From her work with the New Zealand Red Cross, Ms Stewart saw refugees who were struggling to find jobs and opportunities. They wanted to find work, but had language barriers and a lack of experience working in New Zealand.

She started Pomegranate Kitchen in Wellington with co-founder Ange Wither, "a real foodie". Together they came up with the business model, teaching refugees to help run the business.

Refugees are involved from working as cooks and administration, to helping with funding and design.

The enterprise is keen to do big corporate jobs as well as weddings, parties and individual lunches.

Coming up, they're catering a 300 person lunch for TradeMe.

Ms Stewart says there's a lot of support in the community for smart solutions to help refugees thrive here.

She says the refugee quota should be doubled and New Zealand is "falling behind internationally", and there's plenty that can be done to help now.

In her experience, Kiwis' perception of refugees is positive and they're interested in practical solutions.

"It's about finding smart and innovative strategies to help refugees. Kiwis really want to help, and want to help in a smart way."

She encourages people to have conversations with their friends and families about refugees and focus on "what people can bring, rather what it is going to cost us".