Social Development Centre Café and Shop

October 1, 2016

Agency: Karenni Social Development Centre

The Karenni Social Development Center (SDC), based on the Thai/Burma border, trialed a microfinance project to help the organization generate a small income, and enable the students to learn valuable vocational skills. The SDC set up a small café and snack shop, built by SDC staff and external labourers and ran by students, where members of the Karenni Refugee Camp #1 community are able to eat traditional Karenni food.

SDC employed a chef from the camp to manage the shop and train students to make and serve traditional Karenni dishes to feed at least 100 people every week. The café was open daily from 8am – 4pm, and 50 students assisted the chef with the food preparation and cooking on a rota basis, giving them the opportunity to learn how to prepare meals. Not only did the students learn to cook, they also acquired skills to create a budget, oversee funds, solve problems and manage a microfinance project to make it sustainable.

The Café and Shop provided students with practical work experience and the opportunity to learn how to cook and eat well. Importantly, the pilot is a practical application that aligns with the students’ SDC study courses in sustainability and economics. The café and snack shop provides additional income for the SDC, with the aim that the organisation will be able to cover some of the costs of running the education program in the longer term, with the ultimate goal of achieving sustainability. The running of the cafe was affected by the shut-down during the COVID-19 pandemic limiting the access to food supplies from outside the camp.