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Second Shot: tackling homelessness one coffee at a time

Having established business models since secondary school, Julius Ibrahim, an ambitious economics student at UCL, is about to launch a serious business with a social impact – quite a step-up from selling brownies on the playground.

Julius Ibrahim, founder of Second Shot Coffee

As Ibrahim sits down with his coffee, notebook, and laptop, he looks like your average 21-year-old student, with the collar of his striped shirt showing underneath his grey jumper. But as he sips his coffee and thoughtfully tastes the batch brew filter he ordered, he examines the interior design of the independent café; thinking about Second Shot, the café he is planning to open in East London.

“Second Shot coffee is a café that will train, support, and employ the homeless. We will hire three individuals who are homeless, the idea is that they will become fully trained baristas with us and use our profits for support,” Ibrahim explains. “But we will still be serving London’s best coffee,” he adds.

“Second Shot’s partnership with homelessness charities like Crisis and The Connection at Saint Martin-in-the-Fields will help us recruit homeless people,” he says, “and they will immediately be paid the London wage. At the end of their contract – of six months maximum – we’ll be helping the trained baristas with their CVs and application processes.”

Second Shot 2

Unfortunately, despite the large amount of press coverage, the crowd-funding part of the project failed as Second Shot managed to get only £6,000, which represents just 8 per cent of the £75,000 needed to fund the project.

“From a money perspective it just didn’t go where I wanted it to,” he admits. But with different grants, trusts and partnerships – although unwilling to elaborate exactly what they are – Ibrahim says his venture is developing. “I am now in a position where I can start looking at locations, he says, and I’m going to be looking into Hackney, just because it will be cheaper in terms of rent prices.”

Having lived in Camberley, Surrey, all his life, Ibrahim says he was struck by the state of homelessness in the capital. “When I made it to London for university, one of the things that just hit me was how bad homelessness was and especially around Fitzrovia where UCL is,” he says.

Ibrahim then got involved with Enactus at UCL, a community of social academic business leaders which help students launch their own social impact projects. “Enactus helps you find your passions and where your talents lie and then puts that together,” he explains. “That’s when I began to make a significant impact in homelessness and decided I have to do something about it.”

Julius cafe

“My love of coffee was a long term ambition of mine and I wanted to do something meaningful for homelessness so it just came together and no one was able to convince me that I shouldn’t do it,” he says.

His past business achievements demonstrate his confidence. At age 12 he was already beginning his first business venture; selling cookies and brownies in his school playground, which lasted for three years.

On top of that, for two consecutive summers he converted his house into a diner, serving burgers and fries. “I’ve always tried to do stuff like that, which is why I feel very confident that once we get up and running I will be able to guide it and make a real success of it,” he says, “even if obviously this is on a much bigger scale.”

Written by Chloe Darnaud

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