Coffee for a cause

Ground + Co
Ground + Co at the State Library. Katie Liew, founder and CEO (middle) with two staff. Image supplied

The future seems bright when young social entrepreneurs set to make their community a better place.

In partnership with the State Library of WA, Katie Liew’s Ground + Co café aims to educate, upskill and provide employment opportunities for women who are experiencing or are at-risk of homelessness due to family and domestic violence, and disadvantaged young people.

Ground + Co up and running at the State Library of WA. Image: Katie Liew

Set to celebrate officially on 28 June 2021 with 200 coffees sponsored by GMA Garnet Group, this was put on hold due to the announcement of COVID-19 restrictions.

However, the café is now up and running at the State Library. Despite all the uncertainty, Katie Liew, founder and CEO of Ground + Co and its parent company The Underground Collaborative, is optimistic about the impact her initiatives are making.

Every coffee people buy helps us to continue employing people experiencing homelessness.

This not only provides them some financial stability, confidence and all the wonderful benefits of employment, but can also reduce the duration of homelessness as our employees become more empowered, gain independence and, most importantly, transition into long-term stable housing to somewhere they can call home.

Katie Liew, Ground + Co and the Underground Collaborative Founder

Through partnerships with women’s refuge Zonta House and Anglicare WA, Ground + Co are able to lean on their expertise and relationships with their clients to ensure employees receive the necessary wrap around support to get back on their feet.

With continued support, Ground + Co employees will be able to move onto employment in partnership with other hospitality establishments, to provide long-term and sustainable employment beyond the café.

Katie Liew (second from right) and her team in the CBD. Image: Curtin University

Ground+Co commenced operations at the EY Building in October 2019, with the support of Brookfield Properties. She employed three survivors of family and domestic violence; between them, they gained more than 550 hours worth of employment and two have transitioned to permanent jobs and are doing better than before.

The Underground Collaborative

The Underground Collaborative was launched in June 2017, following Katie’s return home from a trip to Africa, where she saw poverty at its worst first-hand. Feeling a mix of emotions, she decided to build a social enterprise that provides employment and housing solutions for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The name was designed to bring light to ‘taboo’ topics, and help address systemic issues through collaboration. It is Katie’s strong belief that with deep passion and working together, we can make a greater and sustainable impact – socially, environmentally, locally.

The initiative has also had a positive impact on the environment, with more than 960 takeaway cups being saved from being dumped in a landfill.

“With regards to The Underground Collaborative’s future goals,” Katie told Startup News, “We’re further developing our employment strategy that will increase our collaborative partnerships and allow us to create deeper and greater reaching impact.”

Want to help?

You can donate here or simply drop by the State Library of WA and buy a coffee.

There are around 10,000 people experiencing homelessness in WA; 116,000 across the country. Small act, big impact.