Eating and drinking for a cause: the rise of the social enterprise

Popping up in laneways, on rooftops and behind shutters, social enterprises are spreading almost as fast as Mexican restaurants in Melbourne (ok, ok, we exaggerate slightly). But from rooftop beekeeping to not-for-profit bars, there’s a new way of doing business in town.

A wall of guilt-free chocolate options available at 2Pocket

A wall of guilt-free chocolate options available at 2Pocket

Social enterprises aren’t charities as such; they exist to promote or assist a social cause by applying ‘market-based’ strategies to achieve their goals. If the offerings in Melbourne are anything to go by (coffee, shoes, wine, food) we think it sounds like a pretty good deal.

Take 2Pocket Fairtrade as an example. Not only is their coffee delicious and their crafts and clothing unique, but purchases also help out some of the world’s poorest communities. So go shopping, pick up some new shoes and while you’re at it, a giant block of fair trade chocolate. Yummo.

Coffee and a cake for a cause? Yes please.

Coffee and a cake for a cause? Yes please.

Another Melbourne success story worth buzzing about is Melbourne Rooftop Honey. Their aim is to provide lip-smackingly good honey and also to raise awareness of the importance of bees in our lives.

A number of restaurants around town use the honey in their cooking, including Bomba and The Town Mouse, and Victorian produce and products champion, Clementine’s in Degraves Street, have jars for sale.

If you’re a socially-minded foodie, try Kinfolk – a not-for-profit cafe with a menu focusing on local and organic produce. Staffed by volunteers, they serve a mean coffee that comes with a heart of gold, with all profits going to a variety of charities.

Other places to get your food and coffee fix while also supporting a great cause include STREAT, who help homeless youth, and Fifty Six Threads, who provide training and job opportunities to new migrants.

Also check out Manchester Lane bar Shebeen, where profits support projects in the developing world, and you can choose which country to support through your choice of drink.

If you have a great idea for a social enterprise the City of Melbourne even has grants that can help you. The next round of funding opens in February 2014. Visit the City of Melbourne to find out more.