Home Magazine Issues April-May 2013 Pop Up Café -Employing young Ugandans with special needs

Pop Up Café -Employing young Ugandans with special needs
By Siisi Saetalu

Imagine that you are seated in a cozy garden in Kampala enjoying the best quality food and coffee. Something like this probably happens to you quite often. What if each time you were sipping this coffee or enjoying your dish, you were by this very same simple act also be supporting charity? What if you those you were supporting were young Ugandans with special needs in their ordeal to start living independently? This is not a utopia! Not anymore! This is exactly what Pop Up Café in Ntinda has to offer!

Pop Up Café is a social enterprise which is set up to employ persons with special needs in Uganda. While unemployment is a huge problem in Uganda generally, special needs youth face even bigger challenges in finding a job and thereby being able to support themselves independently. Pop Up Ltd does not think that a disability should automatically exclude people from a future of living independently.

On top of caffé lattes and cappuccinos prepared from self roasted high quality coffee, Pop Up Cafè is also serving continental and local food. Its menu consists of delicious sandwiches, burgers and whole dishes, while during lunch time additional local lunch is prepared. Customers are encouraged to visit the place with their laptop to take advantage of free WiFi and buy high quality crafts made by young persons with special needs. One of the original and eye-catching items on Pop Up´s craft shelves certainly is the colorful earrings made out of bottle tops collected from the soda bottles sold at the café. Additionally, Pop Up offers lunch delivery service, tours for tourist groups if booked in advance, weekly movie nights and rental of the café for private events. Pop Up Café is open every day from 11AM-9PM.

Today there are six young persons with special needs working at Pop Up Café. They cook, roast coffee, keep books and serve customers. They are involved in each step connected to running this 30-seated café and are being supported in their tasks by the chef, extra waitress and a volunteer.

Why is Pop Up Café great as a charity? Because it is aiming to become independent from donations. It is designed to be self sufficient, i.e. to be supported by its customers. In other words we do not ask you to donate money, but simply enjoy great food and coffee, which you would do anyway. Thereby, the beneficiaries of this project are not only the current staff, but indirectly, each customer, who might leave the place with a new or reinforced knowledge that persons with special needs are able to participate in society.

Pop Up Café is run by a company called Pop Up Ltd, which doesn´t have shareholders – in other words the profits of the business will only be used to expand and create employment possibilities for more persons with disabilities. The idea to open such a café started developing in 2010 after students from NoveBluesky Education Centre had prepared a delicious dinner for international volunteers. As volunteers credited the food to be the best they had had during their stay in Uganda, the students had no prospects for finding a job after graduation, so the idea evolved. Mr. Sam Okiring from Kampala School for the Physically Handicapped and Mr. Godwin Kaswarra from NoveBluesky Education Centre together with a temporary volunteer from Estonia, Jüri Saarma, developed the business plan and the budget.

Pop Up, as the café exists today, was set up by the same two men and a new young volunteer from Estonia called Siisi Saetalu. The seed money for setting up the café was donated by individuals and a few companies in Estonia who until today follow the project via blog and Facebook page. Pop Up Café was opened on the 13th of October, 2012.

For more information, please contact:-
Pop Up Café
161 Mutesa II Road, Ntinda, Kampala
Mobile: +256 792877969
Website: www.facebook.com/popupkampala
On setting up the place: Ugandacafe.blogspot.com