The idea for Change Please originated following an 12-hour bus journey in South East Asia, during which its founder Cemal Ezel was told about the ‘rocking chair test’ by a fellow traveller.
It goes like this – imagine yourself old and wrinkly, sitting in a rocking chair. Ask yourself if you are happy with the life you’ve lived and the impact you’ve had. Ezel, who used to work in finance, decided he wanted to be remembered for something different, and so Change Please was born.
The charity, which launched in 2015 and named one of Marketing Week’s 100 Disruptive Brands this year, couldn’t have come at a better time. Since 2010, homelessness has doubled in the UK, with over 4,000 people sleeping rough every night.
Meanwhile, Brits love a good cup of coffee and are prepared to part with quite a bit of cash for their daily dose of caffeine. Ezel decided to combine these two facts and set up Change Please to try and solve homelessness.
The enterprise trains homeless people to become baristas, providing them with a London Living Wage job, housing, a bank account and therapy, followed by support into onward employment with companies including Pret A Manger.
So far, it has raised over £650,000 and is now serving nearly 2,000 coffees a day, as well as selling its award-winning blends in Sainsbury’s supermarkets. The model is now being franchised across the UK, as well as in San Francisco and soon other cities in the US.
Change Please also focuses on its environmental sustainability by using solar panels on vans, 100% compostable cups and sending all waste coffee grounds to be converted to bio-fuel.
Marketing Week caught up with Ezel to discuss his global expansion plans and other ambitions for the future.