Founded two years ago, London-based social enterprise Change Please has demonstrated a radically different way of doing things, by employing homeless people to roast and serve its coffee it aims to help solve the problem of rough sleeping. Founded by Cemal Ezel the brand is going from strength to strength.
Their whole approach is ethical from buying beans direct from farmers to ensure they get a fair price to using 100% recyclable cups Change Please aims to make a difference. When the beans get to the UK, people who have been sleeping on the streets roast them and are also trained as baristas to work at the company’s 17 locations. Change Please pays £10.20 per hour (the current living wage in London), and provides help with opening bank accounts, housing, therapy and assistance with onward employment. All profits are put back into helping to reduce homelessness and the profit margins are big in the coffee industry.
“This is why the idea that a cup of coffee can do so much good has really caught on among London consumers, “ Ezel says. “Coffee is a vast and growing global industry that has the potential to make a huge positive impact.”
He plans to open 22 new sites in the UK this year.
Expansion plans include delivery giant Occado, Sainsbury’s and a new contract with Transport for London to operate in tube stations. Half of the staff in those outlets will be people who have been sleeping rough on buses or trains in TfL’s network.
Change Pleases main problem is not lack of demand for its products but lack of capacity to help the rapidly increasing number of people sleeping rough in the UK. “We’re limited by the number of sites we have,” says Ezel. “We have been pushing people away and saying, ‘we just can’t take you on right now’.”
He is now hoping to win the global final of the Chivas Venture and part of the £720,000 prize money. This would then allow him to create a centre of excellence that will include temporary housing, an on-site roastery and a barista academy.