WHEN Faridah Halina Mohamad Zairi was retrenched from her job as a senior technical assistant in an oil and gas company in 2015, she thought that it was a good opportunity to fulfil her longtime dream of setting up a cafe.
But, instead of establishing just another coffee outlet, Faridah decided to set up a social enterprise to help unemployed youths in B40 communities find employment. And that’s how Coffee For Good came about.
Faridah joined forces with Dalia Abdul Aziz, whom she met at a barista competition and the two decided to embark on this venture together. Dalia was also, coincidentally, looking for someone to set up a coffee-based business with.
“Coffee has always been our passion and we both had the same idea of starting a business that would help others, particularly underprivileged youth. We have always held a soft spot for this vulnerable group – they are at that crucial age of becoming adults and need opportunities and financial stability given that they come from low-income families. Since there are so many career opportunities in the coffee industry, we decided on this social enterprise which would offer barista training skills for these youths too, ” shares Dalia, who is the co-owner of Coffee For Good.
To ensure that the youths are equipped with the necessary skills required by a good barista, Faridah and Dalia made sure that their training programme included basic interpersonal skills, basic grooming and interview skills apart from basic barista skills.
“The candidates usually send in their application via Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger. Selected candidates will proceed with a one-month-long social programme which is actually an on-the-job training during which they will be paid wages, ” details Dalia who holds a diploma in interior design and interior architecture and an MBA.
Adds Faridah: “They will also learn about how to manage a business and so, upon completion of their training programme, they can either stay on with Coffee For Good or use the skills and knowledge to apply for employment as baristas in other cafes or coffee businesses.”
Muhammad Ali Shaoqee, 23, went through the training programme and he now is a consultant for coffee start-ups.
“I learnt the basics of being a barista, working behind the espresso bar, improving my coffee knowledge as well as learning how to manage my own little coffee catering business... all this while working part-time for Coffee For Good, ” he shares.
Coffee For good was recently included in Hong Leong Bank’s CSR programme under their Hong Leong Bank Jumpstart platform. It now has two outlets in Bangi in Selangor and Glo Damansara in Kuala Lumpur and three pop-up carts.
Hong Leong Bank’s general manager (corporate communication and CSR) Vivian Tan says that they were intrigued by what Coffee For Good had to offer.
“Our main goal is to help Coffee For Good be more sustainable and specifically help them recruit and reach out to more disadvantaged youths in the B40 communities, ” says Tan.
The way forward is clear and the goals achievable.
“We hope that the youths can develop their potential to become true professionals, in terms of skills, experience and knowledge, regardless of the profession they will be in, ” sums up Dalia.
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