Fighting Youth Homelessness One Crêpe at a Time

Crêpes for Change is a flourishing social enterprise in Victoria, riding the wave of success that this business model is currently experiencing. It was founded by Monash student Dan Poole back in 2015 and was the first non-profit commercial food truck in Australia.  It reinvests 100 per cent of its proceeds towards eliminating youth homelessness. It has grown since its humble beginnings and now serves French style crêpes at over 170 events a year around Melbourne.  

Crêpes for Change has also expanded into two more enterprises. The Coffee Cart Changing Lives at RMIT University and co-owns a micro café called in Brunswick which only recently opened in November of last year.  

Crêpes for Change also trains those who are attempting to break their cycle of homelessness. The Coffee Cart Changing Lives at RMIT is primarily where they hold their trainings. The training can last up to six months and is done in conjunction with RMIT, with the aim to make the trainees readily employable afterwards and they also obtain a hospitality qualification. Trainees are paid for their work and at any one time there can be three trainees employed at the coffee cart.  

Tenille Gilbert Crêpes for Change impact manager said: “There is no pressure on them to complete the course, there are certain skills which need to be ticked off, but they can take their time.”  

“It currently costs $2,200 to put one person through the training program, being the average amount of pay that the trainees receive during the program,” she said. There also further additional costs tied to the training.  The aim of is to become another training place homeless youths and offer employment opportunities, to those who complete the course.  

Crêpes for Change gets their trainees from Launch Housing’s (an independent community organisation dedicated to ending homelessness) Post Foyer Flexible program. The program seeks to break the cycle of homelessness by helping people find housing and subsidising their rent while they get back on their feet. They slowly decrease the subsidisation until they can fully cover the rent themselves. Along with the upskilling of youths in the cycle of homelessness, in the last fiscal year Crêpes for Change also donated $37,230 to the program, with Launch Housing being their primary donee.  

Currently 44,000 young people sleeping rough across Australia

Crêpes for Change is also looking to inspire other young entrepreneurs to find ways to solve youth homelessness. With currently 44,000 young people sleeping rough across Australia, there is still a long journey ahead.  Late last year Crêpes for Change worked alongside YGAP, a non-profit looking to eliminate poverty. Their corporate sponsors to hold a three-day Northern Territory Social Change Summit. Their focus was to tackle youth homelessness in the Northern Territory, which is 14 times higher than the national average. They flew down 11 young entrepreneurs who had ideas and a passion for social change. At the end of the weekend the entrepreneurs were asked to pitch their ideas, with the best receiving a grant.  

“We gave the best-looking project a $2,000 grant.  This was Blue Sky Connect by Hannah Morris. She came up with the idea of giving young people in the Northern Territory who don’t have many options, really engaging work experience with strong and established businesses,” said Ms Gilbert.   

Since then, Blue Sky Connect has begun to grow and looks to engage more struggling students throughout the year. Four other of the entrepreneurs flown down have continued to plan their social enterprise ideas for the Northern Territory.   

Similarly, to Crepes for Change and those invited to take part in the summit, there are many other likeminded individuals around Australia who are changing the way in which fundamentally a business operates. (awkward sentence) There are currently 20,000 social enterprises Australia wide and that number continues to grow. This form of business has many positive societal impacts besides their face value effects.  A Map for Impact report conducted by Swinburne University found that social enterprises in Victoria employ twice the rate of female managers and those with disabilities. They also seek to break the cycle of unemployment with 12 per cent of jobs being given to those who have been unemployed for 12 consecutive months. Further they offer annually an average 251 hours of volunteer work, giving more potential for those in need to gain skills and fosters a sense of community around the social endeavour.  


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Tags : community servicecrepeshomelessnessmonash alumni
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