A social enterprise coffee cart is making a big impact in lower Cuba Street thanks to a social loan through the Nikau Foundation. Scottie Reeve  (below) is venture manager for Zeal Education Trust, says Zeal aims to “transform youth through creativity”. Zeal is running barista courses to give training to young people, as well as a raft of other ventures.

After the baristas had qualified, he said they thought they would take it one step further and set up a café to give those who had completed the course their (in some cases) first job. “Some of the baristas have also gone on to get other work at other cafes in Wellington (as well as working at Stories) so that is really positive.’’

Zeal recently received a $10,000 social loan from the Nikau Foundation through the Tindall Foundation and used this money for start-up capital for the coffee cart (made out of a shipping container). Stories now has 80-100 regulars and as it is becoming more popular they are looking at perhaps leasing another space. He says it is hard for non-profit organisations to get the contestable funding so “we had to look at a different way.” The loan from Nikau helped the project get off the ground.

“It is great watching people’s confidence grow. We train 30-45 people a year (to be baristas),” he says. “We want to see these young people participating on the same level as everyone else – it is about gaining skills but it is also about caring about them.

“In a social enterprise – all the profits go back to the young people.” The project is now self-sustaining in terms of paying wages.

Scottie said the name Stories comes from the story of getting the container at the site, fitting it out and all the things that needed to happen to get it running – such as sourcing the fair-trade coffee. But he said it also reflects the stories of the young people who had done the barista course and had created their own story.

“Young people need the best story available to them (in life).