(Port Elizabeth) – Taking time out to have coffee with a friend at Baywest Mall could change the life of a complete stranger on Mandela Day (Tuesday, July 18).
The mall and its participating restaurants and coffee shops have partnered with the non-profit Leva Foundation to help fund the Red Band Barista Academy, which equips unemployed candidates with the training and skills to serve in the professional coffee industry.
Baywest Mall’s assistant marketing manager Lindsay Steele said the six participating tenants – Melissa’s, vida e caffè, Wimpy, John Dory’s, Panarottis and Biloxi Spur – would donate the cost of a cup of coffee for every two coffees sold.
“The concept is so simple yet powerful. Just by sharing a cup of coffee, you have the power to contribute to job creation in our community,” said Steele.
She said the barista academy assisted the unemployed by teaching them how to pour restaurant-grade latté art and develop the professionalism and people-orientation required in the service industry.
Leva Foundation managing director Ryan le Roux said the academy had trained 78 baristas to date, with 90% of them going on to find gainful employment – some at Baywest Mall coffee shops. The next intake of 10 trainees will begin at the end of July.
“One of the key things about Red Band is that we don’t go into the workplace and upskill baristas who already have jobs. We only train unemployed people who have never had a job.”
Le Roux said applications were invited from promising candidates who had completed the foundation’s two-week Work for a Living course, where they learned how to become valuable to future employers.
One of the successful graduates is Amanda Mangaliso, 31, of Zwide in Port Elizabeth. She completed the month-long barista training last year before landing her first job at Wimpy – on her graduation day. In July last year, she joined the vida e caffè team at Baywest Mall and has since been promoted to assistant manager.
“I already had hospitality training, so I was interested but wasn’t sure at first. Then as we did the training, I got more and more interested. Now I love what I’m doing.”
Mangaliso said being a barista had opened doors for her and she dreams of opening her own shop one day, where she can express her passion for coffee.
Le Roux said the Mandela Day initiative helped to promote the work of the academy to potential candidates like Mangaliso and was also valuable from a fundraising point of view.
“For a mall like Baywest and their participating retailers to get behind us is really good.”
He said the aim of the initiative was to encourage ordinary people to join the conversation about changing the world for the better.
“Spend your 67 minutes having a conversation over coffee that’s real and meaningful, that isn’t about other people or the weather. And while you’re doing that, the profits are going towards teaching someone a skill they could use to get a job.”
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