From education to employment

Latte love for student coffee shop equality pitch in national kindness contest

Martin Downes

@colegcambria students stirred up a latte interest in their brilliant business idea during a national Hack of Kindness. 

Coleg Cambria learners Riccardo Dotolo, Sophie Weaver and Ben White, from Wrexham, were commended by judges for their cafe concept promoting equality and diversity.

The trio, all former students at St Joseph’s High School, designed plans for a coffee shop managed and operated by people living with disabilities.

Organised by Wales Co-operative Centre – and funded by the Social Business Wales programme – the panel loved their Coff-E-Quality concept and heaped praise on the learners for the way they presented on the day.

Business Studies student Riccardo, based at Coleg Cambria Yale, said: “We were all in school together and have a great bond, so we worked really well as a group.

“This was an opportunity to find out more about running a business, it was a good challenge and we enjoyed it.

“We all came up with the idea for a social enterprise and wanted the profits to be put towards the wages and a charity for disabled people, which received a lot of positive feedback.”

Ben, currently studying for the Neurotech qualification at Yale, added: “We think disabled people should have the same opportunities in employment as everybody else.

“Presenting in front of the judges was quite nerve racking as we were against the clock, but they were pleased with our idea.”

Sophie, based at Northop, thanked the college, especially Learner Experience and Enterprise Manager Rona Griffiths, for their support.

“Rona and the team really championed us and gave us the confidence to believe we could do it,” she said.

“We would really love to make Coff-E-Quality a social enterprise one day, that’s our long-term plan.”

Rona was thrilled with their efforts and said: “The three of them impressed me so much, they brimmed with positivity, resilience and drive.

“They were a perfect team, supported each other and overcame their nerves to give a fantastic presentation in what was a pan-Wales event.”

Martin Downes, Social Entrepreneur Officer at the Wales Co-operative Centre (pictured), added: “Eighty five learners from five colleges across Wales took part, co-operating, collaborating, being creative, and developing ideas to generate profit for good that can be reinvested to make a positive difference to communities. 

“To stimulate the teams as they worked together, we ran a series of sprint workshops on social enterprise, asset mapping, creative thinking, marketing and PR, funding and financing a new venture, teamwork, working with stakeholders, and pitching skills.

“It was an intense two days with pitches based around equine therapy, dog products, mental health apps, cycling, supporting children who may not be able to afford sports equipment, autism and health and wellbeing cafes, supporting care homes with iPads, and a whole lot more.

“The students from Cambria were amazing! It was a great idea and pitch from Ben, Riccardo and Sophie. We are excited about seeing them turn their plans into reality.”

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