💌 Love Philly? Sign up for the free Billy Penn email newsletter to get everything you need to know about Philadelphia, every day.
COVID shutdowns. Election stress. Financial hardship. It’s a tough time for everyone, and studies have shown millennials are already in a worse place than other generations when it comes to mental health.
It’s even harder for young adults of color, who have to deal with systemic racism and discrimination. But places like Mina’s World are actively working to make it better.
The West Philly cafe and boutique, launched earlier this year by life and business partners Sonam Parikh and Kate Egghart, does not offer formal health care services. Yet it’s a great example of a project that promotes community happiness and connection — which can help as much as any doctor’s visit. The co-owners also founded “The People’s Fridge,” a community refrigerator where anyone can grab fresh, healthy produce and other ingredients for free.
Do you have an idea like that? You could win a $10,000 prize and seed funding to make it happen from the Well City Challenge.
The deadline to apply to the social impact incubator was just extended to Monday, Nov. 30. You can submit your concept in one of three tracks:
- Community and social connection: Solutions to wellness that use technology and social media or outdoor activities compliant with social distancing
- Food and nutrition: Collaborative, community-oriented ventures that capitalize on the intimate relationship between food and health
- Mind/body: Because engagement in physical activity and mindfulness are closely tied to health outcomes.
Here’s a look at how Mina’s World accomplishes its good work.
Mina’s World is a community-centered coffee shop and arts and crafts bazaar that pays its employees fairly and prioritizes putting Black and brown people in managerial positions, according to its website.
It’s Philly’s first self-proclaimed QTPOC-owned business (that’s queer and trans people of color), and the co-owners’ advocacy gained them a huge social following even before the business opened this past February.
Mina’s World is located at 511 S. 52nd St., about halfway between Spruce Street and Baltimore Avenue. It’s in the heart of West Philly’s rising 52nd Street corridor, just down the block from Malcolm X Park.
Shop co-founder Sonam Parikh grew up in her parents’ corner store in Brooklyn, NY, she told Bon Appetit, and she wanted to recreate that feeling of community when she moved to Philly.
After training with Lancaster-based Passenger Coffee, Parikh and partner Kate Egghart launched their spot in Cobbs Creek with the goal of creating “a space they felt safe and productive working in.” The cafe’s name comes from the duo’s cat, and it has a mantra to center and uplift marginalized people — in the neighborhood, and in the coffee industry at large.
In addition to coffee, tea, other beverages and pastries and snacks, Mina’s World sells plant-based tinctures, books from local authors, and other works from Philly artists.
It only launched a few weeks before COVID shut everything down, but the shop also has a lounge area. In non-pandemic times, customers can drink coffee and read books, engaging with the baristas and community authors as they sip. The owners have offered to meet with other aspiring Black or person of color entrepreneurs, advising them on how to start equitable businesses of their own.
Parikh, who said she’s worked in the industry since she was 18, made an effort to price cups of drip java affordably (they start at $2), even while using high-quality locally roasted beans from Chester County’s Máquina Coffee.
Purchases are credit card only right now for health safety reasons, but if someone stops in who doesn’t have the money, the cafe will hand over coffee and meals for free.
Giving away food to those in need is also the idea behind The People’s Fridge, a community refrigerator on 52nd Street that Mina’s World maintains and supplies. Anyone can donate bags of fruits and veggies, or any kind of fresh non-raw-meat food, to the pop-up mutual aid station.