Coffee academy wins top social enterprise award

A coffee academy that trains and employs disadvantaged women was given top honours yesterday at a ceremony that recognised home-grown social enterprises.

Bettr Barista, founded in 2011, was named Social Enterprise of the Year - the highest honour at this year's President's Challenge Social Enterprise Award. It was presented with the award and a prize of $50,000 by President Halimah Yacob at the event in the Istana.

The award was started in 2012 to recognise outstanding social enterprises. This year, 41 enterprises from industries such as healthcare, education and food and beverage took part, and 19 were shortlisted.

Homage and Jaga-Me, two enterprises that help match patients with caregiving or nursing services, were joint winners of the Social Enterprise Start-Up of the Year award. Each took home $20,000 in cash.

F&B firm Popejai took home $25,000, with the Youth Social Enterprise of the Year award. It provides employment to people with disabilities, at-risk youth and individuals from low-income families.

Two enterprises received commendations: Soon Huat Bak Kut Teh for Social Enterprise of the Year, and ADL Rehab for Youth Social Enterprise of the Year.

Bettr Barista founder Pamela Chng, 41, said the prize money will help the business scale up, and expand its regional work with sustainable coffee farmers. So far, the firm has helped 70 women and youth.

Although it has not been easy balancing business and social goals, she said: "It's about looking at the people we have helped and seeing how their lives have transformed. That's what keeps us going."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 06, 2017, with the headline 'Coffee academy wins top social enterprise award'. Print Edition | Subscribe