Ben

My name is Ben Whitaker. I am the owner of The Final Step. I come from Alexandra, a small town in the south of New Zealand. I helped my parents set up a cafe there in 2002. I guess that's where my enjoyment of coffee and the hospitality industry started. This is my first business. I started The Final Step in June 2009. Since then my staff and I have been learning all about what it takes to run a specialty coffee business in Melbourne.

The Final Step's mission has always been to provide the best quality coffee possible, in a warm and welcoming environment. In that regard, nothing has changed. We are still a quality driven establishment and we are still focussed on creating a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere.

But now, we have a social conscience. We will be using the profits from the cafe to fund the "Food For Thought" (F4T) program. F4T is a healthy food and activity program designed to feed underprivileged children in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

We have created an organisation, Social Opportunity Group, to facilitate the project.

You can find us at www.socialopportunitygroup.com

Why Argentina? Why Children?

1 in 3 children in Argentina under the age of 17 live in poverty. Yes 1 in 3.

We feel that business should be about more than just making profit! We believe that even though we are a small business, we can still make a big difference to disadvantaged childrens' lives. In helping them we are striving towards making a sustainable social change.

In between helping my parents set up a cafe and starting my own, I spent four years in London as a primary school teacher. During this time I learnt a lot about not only myself but about the way children behave and learn. Children are naturally imaginative, honest, eager to learn and confident. We need to grab a hold of these wonderful traits while they are still young, develop them and encourage them to grow.

I worked at one particular school for two years. This school had as many languages spoken as there are weeks in a year. It was also in a pretty low income area. This school was culturally rich and diverse. Children came from all sorts of backgrounds. Funny how they all had those similar traits!

I was lucky enough to be part of a breakfast club that fed children who might not get food at home. We provided the children with a nutritious breakfast and involved them is simple fun activities. This breakfast club was a great way to prime and engage children's minds and bodies. Healthy food and activity,  a great way to start the day, and better than starting then day on an empty stomach!

So this is the project we are taking to Argentina, "Food For Thought". The Final Step will fund the project. The group we have created to facilitate F4T is called Social Opportunity Group (SOG). SOG consists on 3 members here in Australia and 2 on the ground in Buenos Aires.

socialopportunitygroup.com

The final step in the long journey that is coffee.
The first step in the journey towards sustainable social change.