Today we surprised Vicky at Melbourne Central with the big news that she was our 50,000th customer served at STREAT! After ordering her favourite brew, we piled her arms full of freebies including a signed STOP homelessness sign, free STREAT t-shirt and a spanking new loyalty card. After all of the excitement we decided to continue sharing the love by surprising our 50,100th customer and this happened to be Rachel at Melbourne University! We take 5 with Vicky & Rachel here…
So big congratulations on your win! How does it feel to be STREAT’s 50,000th customer?
V: Ooh I’m so special! I’m going to proudly display this stop sign in my house. I’m very proud!
R: Pretty fantastic!
What makes you come to STREAT for your coffee?
V: I think it’s a great cause, particularly with theloyalty cards, you know the more coffee I drink the more a homeless person will get. I think it’s a great idea, a lot of people drink coffee and the coffee is great as well, so you might as well put it towards a good cause you know.
R: Well it’s good coffee, and its for a good purpose, so you can feel all warm and fuzzy about buying a coffee everyday.
Do you patron STREAT regularly?
V: Yes, pretty much since this cart opened in Melbourne Central I’ve bought my coffee here.
R: Yeah I do, everyday. I’ve been coming to Melburne Uni since I started working here but also Melbourne Central.
This week we also welcomed our fourth intake of trainees to STREAT. Do you have any words of wisdom for them as they start on their journey with us, something that you would have wanted to know when you were 16?
V: Ooh when I was 16… That anything is possible really. The world is their oyster and they’ve got a bright future ahead of them.
R: If hospitality is an industry you like, then really embrace it because it can be really good to you.
Why do you want homelessness to STOP?
V: It’s just heartbreaking when you see the guys out on the street, you hear their stories about how they got there and things like that, and it doesn’t need to be that way. We are all one community and we need to support everyone in that community.
R: Because its cold and its horrible. It’s just horrible and I don’t think its really necessary in a country like ours, people don’t need to be without homes. Whatever we can do to help people, we should be doing it.
Could you finish the following sentences -
Home to me is…
V: Where my loved ones are.
R: Home is safe and warm and cosy.
Something you may not know about me…
V: I’m a triathlete!
R: I volunteer a lot in the homeless societies.
A moment that changed your life…
V: Probably when I moved to Europe for my first job overseas.
R: The homeless word cup a couple of years ago in Melbourne. I volunteered on that and it was absolutely fantastic. It just opened my eyes and changed my life.
The strangest thing you’ve ever eaten…
V: Ooh I have eaten some strange things! I don’t even know what it was but it was in Thailand, it looked like an insect or something!
R: Um probably bugs. Deep fried bugs in Thailand! You’ve got to try these things!
Congratulations again Vicky & Rachel, thank you for stopping homelessness one meal at a time with STREAT!
IF connects local innovators and experts to discuss far reaching themes like ethonomics, online, design, technology and more. In this IF talk the panel will discuss the future of technology and the impacts on our immediate future.
The expert panel curated by uncluttered white spaces will address the simple questions: What has changed, what is changing, and what should we be doing to address these changes?
The event is taking place in just three days on Thursday 9 June from 6.30 – 8.30pm in Sydney CBD. All profits raised from the IF Talk will go to STREAT.
This famous quote from an anonymous author pretty much sums up the recent graduation of our second intake of STREAT trainees. Last night as I watched our latest graduates celebrating their achievements with family and friends it became clear just how far on their journey each of these talented young people have come, and their individual transformations have been truly inspiring to all of us at STREAT.
Only eight months ago our new graduates stepped into STREAT for the first time hesitant, distrusting and full of self doubt. Throughout their journey’s they have shown an enormous amount of courage, and resilience and have achieved such a great deal along the way. They have grown into capable, confident and qualified young people, all with amazingly bright futures that await them in their journey’s ahead.
Walking through Melbourne University for the first time feels a bit like going on a wild goose chase, and it’s not because of the layout, but because all of the buildings look the same – blonde brick, concrete and blue steel – and not of the Zoolander variety!
As you make your way through to the Melbourne Uni Student Union North Court, a brilliant pop of red greets you, followed by the warmth of our resident pot plants, the sound of funky beats pumping from the cart and the smell of fresh coffee, pungent herbs and sizzling garlic – say hello to STREAT’s latest cafe.
STREAT worked with the talented Ammon Beyerle and Pete Spence from Herestudio Architects to design and craft our new café. The innovative design features walls made from iconic red recycled milk crates that lovingly wrap around our food and coffee carts. The result is visually spectacular!
This is the first time that we have had a sizable piece of real estate that has allowed us to pull off a double site, but does this compromise the STREAT experience? Definitely not!
I’m proud to say that our latest street cafe is a smooth operator that is quickly earning a reputation for the ‘best coffee on campus.’ And coffee that is ‘AMAZING and quick!’ and ‘some seriously good coffee karma for your morning caffeine kick!’ Our gourmet sandwiches are also earning a decent foodie following among students and faculty – we had our very first onsite catering gig just the other day and two loyalty cards have been completed since we opened up just three weeks ago.
Our CEO Rebecca Scott also had a thing or two to say about working on our latest venture. "I’m looking forward to working with Melbourne University Student Union Ltd and I’m proud that this year we’ll give customers over 45 reasons to share a meal or buy a coffee with STREAT at our latest street cafe. They are... Jamie, Bahareh, Andrew, Rayne, Imogen, Jen, Damien, Wren, Maddie, Con, John, Medina, Nathan, Chloe, Susie, Chantelle, Jake... the list goes on!”
Throughout 2011 STREAT will work with 40 homeless youth. Through the support of you – our loyal customers, we will provide 20,000 hours of paid employment to our trainees.
By the end of 2011 STREAT will be serving up to 1,000 customers daily across both of our street cafe sites with a target of hitting the 100,000 coffee served mark by Christmas.
So come on down to see our latest food and coffee cart for yourselves, and help us stop homelessness the delicious way by sharing a meal with us.
Recently Hildy Gottleib on her ‘Creating the Future’ blog was struggling with what social entrepreneurship is and also stated ‘I am struggling to find what the difference is between a social entrepreneur venture and every other organization working to create a better world.’ The responses she received were varied and a good read. I thought I’d add an Australian flavour to the responses.
In 2009 the Australian Centre for Nonprofit Studies and Social Traders had a stab at defining social enterprise, and the answer works well for STREAT, and partially captures why as the organisation’s founder I call myself a social entrepreneur.
Here’s their definition of a social enterprise, along with my response…
a. Are led by an economic, social, cultural, or environmental mission for public or community benefit (STREAT’s mission is to provide homeless youth with independence and a future by providing social support and training and employment in the hospitality industry) b. Trade to fulfill their mission (our street cafes have the dual purpose of generating income by competing in the open market and also providing the site for training and employment of our youth) c. Derive a substantial portion of their income from trade (we’re aiming for full financial sustainability through our own earned income by the end of our third year of operating - we’re in year 1 and tracking pretty well against this goal. Our second site opened last week so wish us luck!) d. Reinvest the majority of their profit/surplus in the fulfilment of their mission (we reinvest 100% of profit).
My guess is that most non-profits could easily tick off point a, though many couldn’t tick off b, c, or d. Now of course there’s a bunch of non-profits who are earning some income, but this isn’t their main or only source of income and they will continue to rely heavily on other income sources to fulfil their missions (eg like government grants, philanthropic money, fundraising activities).
On the other hand, most for-profits could easily tick off point b and c. Some would tick off a, and of course most would reinvest a percentage of their profit back into their business (point d), but most would distributing their profits back to the owners or shareholders of the business.
But of course things aren’t quite this simplistic.
I have a strong belief that as consumers our greatest power is the way we spend our money. And if we strive to change as many lives as possible with each purchase, we'll start to recreate our economy to be fairer and more just. I was reminded of this on Tuesday night when I heard Kohinoor Yeasmin, the CEO of Tarango, talk about her work in Fair Trade, micro-enterprise and grassroots economic empowerment programs with women in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Her inspirational talk, which was held at the Abbotsford Convent Bakery and part of Fairtrade Fortnight, told the stories of a handful of the women whose lives had been transformed. She reminded me that whenever we buy a cup of fair trade coffee, each bean in each cup is imbued with stories. Stories of the women who planted the coffee plant, and then toiled in the heat to harvest the beans. Stories of the people who were fairly paid for their hard day's work planting, picking, drying and transporting the beans to our shores. But the stories of empowerment don't have to end once the beans reach Australia. I shared with the gathering the stories of STREAT's coffee which is roasted and blended in partnership with the Convent Bakery. Youth in STREAT's program who have suffered from homelessness learn about the roasting process, and help grind and package the coffee whilst receiving a fair wage for their work. The coffee is then purchased by customers and 100% of the profit goes back to helping those same youth receive vocational and life skills at STREAT. By buying STREAT Coffee the beans get imbued with even more stories of transformation, and we blend together the stories of people from opposite sides of the globe.
I think there's a strong philosophical alignment between the Fair Trade, organic and social enterprise movements, and I'd like to find more ways for us to work together. And by doing so I think we'll create products like STREAT's coffee which are triple certified—they are Fair Trade, organic and socially just at the local level.
When I opened my inbox today I had a message from a friend of mine Fiona to watch the Centre of Social Impact’s latest Yakety Yak conversation on social innovation. I almost didn’t click on the conversation with Audette Exel, the co-founder of the ISIS Group because I figured I didn’t have 35 minutes to spare. Besides it was the weekend. I decided to watch just the first five minutes because my friend Fiona has done a lot of work with ISIS and speaks highly of Audette. But I was hooked right away by Audette’s story, honesty and humour. If you do one thing today – watch this amazing social entrepreneur, lawyer, bank CEO, social justice advocate, skydiver and adventurer.
There were times I sat in Thursday’s Investing for Impact Forum thinking that one day we’d all look back on the forum as a pivotal point in the development of Australia’s social investment sector. There were enough people in the room with the skills, experience and passion to collectively bring about the changes we need. There was also a strong desire for action. And as Cheryl Kernot pointed out, the Centre for Social Impact --who hosted the event-- is an organisation of pracademics.
Here’s a few other highlight’s of yesterday’s Investing for Impact Forum:
I particularly loved hearing the details about how the collapse of the ABC Learning Centres has catalysed a bunch of non-profits (Mission Australia, Brotherhood of St Laurence, Social Ventures Australia, the Benevolent Society), philanthropic investors (like the Trawalla Foundation), and financial institutions (like the NAB) to form the GoodStart consortia and take over the centres. In addition to running profitable centres, what is exciting is the central social focus ‘to provide high quality care, assist disadvantaged children, provide quality early learning education, support local communities, increase parent participation in childcare, and positively change Australia’s early learning and childcare policies.’ As Matthew Turner, Director of Corporate Finance for NAB pointed out, these were decisions the bank would never usually take into consideration when making investment decisions. He made it clear that although the social outcomes didn’t impact the rigour and due diligence the bank performed when structuring GoodStart’s finance, they did change how determined they were to find the right financial solutions. As pointed out, Australia is far behind the OECD rankings in early childhood development and the collapse of ABC provided a ‘once in a generation opportunity’ to bring about real social changes in this area. I wonder how Eddy Groves is feeling about his former 678 centres (his cashcows actually) becoming Australia’s largest social enterprise!
Yesterday I attended the Investing for Impact Forum run by the Centre for Social Impact where Senator Nick Sherry, the Assistant Treasurer, gave the keynote address. He spoke of the societal changes from 20 years ago when he was first a Superannuation Fund Trustee and there was no discussion about how investment could bring about social and environmental change. This has changed dramatically, including for the role that Government plays in social investment.
Senator Sherry spoke of the Government’s need to encourage the growing role of the for-profit sector in social enterprise and also create the right regulatory environment to stimulate social investment. And this seems to be working well, particularly with changes to the taxation regulations stimulating philanthropy. Since the inception nearly a decade ago of private philanthropy trusts (now called the Private Ancillary Funds or PAFs), there has been an exponential growth of private philanthropy with over 800 funds developed with assets of $2 billion. That’s a lot of extra money being invested annually in charities!
It’s been a big week for STREAT. The trainees are in. We’re trading in Fed Square. And the STREAT team has been rolling up their sleeves, donning the trainers, and pushing those half-tonne carts around the Square morning and late afternoon.
This makes me think about generosity, and what a difference it can make in the everyday. Last month the New York Times (my favourite required reading) wrote about a woman in Brooklyn who is giving $100 dollars to people to give away in creative ways. My old roomates were part of this little experiment, called the Creative Philanthropy project. Watch them pay people to talk to a stranger, with the option of holding hands with a stranger and walking around Bryant Park. For three walks people were paid $18. It seems like this little experiment produced some unexpected moments of social cohesion—a generous gift among the hustle of city life.
Another friend Charlie wrote on his blog Do Good Well about how social enterprise benefits from a culture of generosity. Traditional businesses compete for market share, whereas social business will thrive the more we grow the field. Our customers benefit when offered diverse options so that they can choose to consume responsibly across as many products and services as possible. This is intuitive and practical reasoning.
I’ve seen some old-fashioned generosity happening in Melbourne as well. Last month Social Traders and STREAT co-hosted the “Socially-enterprising Foodie’s Forum” (now a quarterly event) so that players in the food and social enterprise space can exchange ideas and learn from one another. Maybe one day this will develop into a network for consumers, a benchmark like Fair Trade that certifies social and environmental outcomes, but for now it’s enough to exchange lessons learned as the industry starts to form. Social enterprise is new to Australia, and any exchange of resources and hob-nobbing of like-minded folk is bound to produce good outcomes.
I’ve spent the last week dividing my time between the food carts in Federation Square and the orientation of the STREAT trainees. At Fed Square we’re interrupting people’s busy days to pitch the idea of a social enterprise helping homeless youth by selling street hawker food. Despite the crazy (or crazy audacious) idea that it is, we’ve got good reception so far, and even offers from people who want to volunteer, and help spread the word that STREAT has come to town. The trainees have been doing a Foodie tour of the Victoria Market and getting their uniforms from William Angliss. In the midst of this, there’s a whole host of people—staff and volunteers—who are working flat-out to make the trainees’ experience as positive and engaging as possible. That effort is generous indeed. After all, it’s the little moments of individual generosity that build a greater culture. It can be the smallest interactions that change a person’s world view towards a wider embrace of their potential, and what they can achieve.
So what moments of generosity have you experienced?
What has touched your life and changed its direction?