Social Enterprise – The Community Café Example
Monday, 10th May 2004 at 1:05 pm
The Community Café within Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley community is a popular, incredibly busy and well-respected operation and a good example of social enterprise at work says Mission Australia.
Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley is an ethnically and socio-economically diverse suburb, containing a large population of homeless people alongside growing numbers of very wealthy residents.
A Mission Australia soup kitchen in the area provided food to clients in need, but staff felt that much more was needed.
They also hoped that in a place as diverse as ‘the Valley’, homeless people could become a more welcome and accepted part of the community.
Eventually, they decided to open a Community Café – one that would offer all the services that a soup kitchen had, as well as many others. Importantly, it would also be a café that served the public.
The result was that clients spent longer in the café than they did in the soup kitchen, enabling staff to develop relationships with them, and help them with employment, training, life skills and health issues as well as housing.
The café now receives a high level of support from the community, with many local businesses donating food and drinks for sale, helping staff to keep their costs down.
The café offers training in Cert III Hospitality and work experience in a busy café setting, as well as access to Mission Australia’s employment services next door.
Additionally, the café is used by visiting services to provide health, housing and legal help and to distribute information.
Mission Australia says the Community Café is an example of a social enterprise where business savvy is used for a social benefit. As such, it will ultimately be self-sustaining, recovering costs through good business management and the support of the business sector and wider community.
Being a place for the entire community brings opportunities for people to interact and build relationships with others in a non-threatening, non-judgmental, supportive environment.
The Community Café relies on the generous assistance of the local business community for product donations.
If you have an example of a social enterprise either new or well established in you state why now share the experience with other Pro Bono Australia readers. Just send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org