Change Please’s model of reducing homelessness by focusing on getting people a job and securing housing is disrupting how we think about the issue of homelessness. The enterprise trains homeless people to be 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.
Founded by Cemal Ezel, who came up with the idea during a make or break trip to Vietnam, Change Please has been backed by Virgin Startup, Big Issue Invest, CAF Venturesome and Can Invest with funding from Comic Relief. It has raised over £650,000 and is now serving nearly 2,000 coffees a day with sales through Sainsbury’s supermarkets expected to begin in July.
The model is also being franchised across the UK, as well as in San Francisco and soon other cities across the US. Change Please also focuses on its environmental sustainability by using solar panels on vans, 100% compostable cups and sending all its waste coffee grounds to be converted to bio-fuel.