A new social enterprise cafe has opened at the Brimbank Community and Civic Centre, showcasing locally prepared coffees and giving traineeship opportunities to young people.
Little Rays Café opened on April 11, with entrepreneur Alex Hooke the brains behind the new venture. He said the opportunity to provide employment opportunities to locals was a key plank in the business.
“I was reading something the other day that said there are no entry level jobs anymore – you need experience but it can be hard to get,” Mr Hooke said.
“Providing the facilities for experience is the main idea … giving people the chance to come and train and learn about coffee, and hopefully go on to work in that area long term.
“Social businesses as a whole really interests me … I see economic empowerment as a great leveller and a way of providing a positive social impact.”
Mr Hooke grew up in Melbourne but took his first steps into the hospitality industry when he opened a cafe in Wollongong in a shipping container.
He produced a research paper on social enterprise’s while at university.
He sees the Brimbank business as a chance to combine those two interests.
“We’re in conversations with non government organisations and local council programs to provide opportunities, and we will source our food and coffee locally,” Mr Hooke said.
“So far, everyone seems really happy to have us in what was previously just an empty space, providing boutique Melbourne coffee.”
Little Rays Café is open Monday to Friday from 8am-3pm on the ground floor of the Brimbank Community and Civic Centre, 301 Hampshire Road, Sunshine.