Give back to the community while you’re travelling, by patronising these sustainable businesses that pay local producers fair wages÷≥.
1. Seedlings Cafe, Hoi An, Vietnam
Based in the quaint town of Hoi An, social enterprise Seedlings Cafe offers customers an authentic taste of Vietnamese cuisine – while giving at-risk youth a chance to empower themselves through vocational, hands-on training in culinary preparation, service, and restaurant management.
2. Daughters’ Boutique, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The story behind Daughters’ Boutique is one of second chances. The beautiful jewellery, scarves, bags, and household items sold here were each handmade by young men and women who were formerly trafficked into the sex industry. Daughters of Cambodia, which started the boutique, also runs a number of other cafes, a spa, and hostel to help these young people back up on their feet.
3. ACTSmarket, Singapore
Launched last year, the Singapore-based online portal provides a platform for verified social enterprises from around the world to sell handicrafts made by the underprivileged. Purchase a range of apparel, accessories and lifestyle goods for various causes.
4. Dravida’s Bistro, Pune, India
Aiming to be a self-supporting and sustainable restaurant, this eatery serves contemporary versions of classic South Indian dishes at affordable prices. Kitchen waste is composted and recycled as fertiliser in the organic vegetable garden on the terrace, from where produce is harvested and served in the restaurant. Depending on the harvests of the season, around half of the food served is made with organic produce and the restaurant intends to expand the garden to become fully self-supporting.
5. Honeystreet Handmade, Wiltshire, UK
This family-run business offers a range of beauty products, all of which are locally produced and contain Fairtrade-certified ingredients such as olive oil, shea butter, and apricot kernel oil. Besides that, paper used in production is recycled and printed in a Fairtrade unit in India, while its containers are recyclable too.
6. Rumah Fair Trade, Bali, Indonesia
Established by Forum Fair Trade Indonesia – a coalition of local artisan organisations aiming to promote fair trade for artisans – Rumah Fair Trade offers a range of ceramic and wooden goods, as well as textiles and accessories all sourced directly from its members.
7. Relae, Copenhagen, Denmark
The two-time winner of the Sustainable Restaurant Award is helmed by the visionary chef Christian Puglisi, who aims to serve great food with the smallest environmental impact possible. More than 90 per cent of produce is grown from wholly organic processes; coffee grounds are used in compost to grow mushrooms. He also has an organic farm 45 minutes from Copenhagen that produces ingredients for the restaurant.
8. Half-United, USA
Run by a brother-sister duo, Half-United crafts accessories out of recycled bullet casing as a statement against world hunger. It walks the talk too – for each Half-United product purchased, a child in need from places such as USA, Fiji, Cambodia, Liberia, Nepal or Haiti will receive seven meals. Browse the catalogue online or check them out at selected retailers in USA.
9. Bamboobee, Singapore
The bamboo bicycles sold by Bamboobee are sourced and crafted from sustainable sources. Villagers in a mountainous region in China’s Hunan province are hired to harvest the bamboo, while artisans in Guangzhou craft the parts of the bicycle. They are then shipped to Bamboobee in Singapore, which donates one per cent of all sales to charities backing environmental causes.
10. Bahir Zaf, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
This restaurant serving tapas-style traditional Ethiopian and Western dishes is a training ground for youths in Addis Ababa. It is part of the TREE Alliance, which is a collection of similar restaurants across the world, where young people learn vocational skills to give them a leg-up for a better future. Profits from TREE restaurants benefit the students in the form of social programmes and training.
11. Rede Asta, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Selling a range of traditionally crafted wallets, toys and home decor items, this social enterprise aims to help artisans from less well-off communities sustain their livelihoods.
12. Ock Pok Top, Vientiane, Laos
Ock Pok Top runs artisanal shops, weaving workshops and even accommodation for tourists, with a focus on the preservation of traditional Lao weaving skills. Clothes, wall hangings and bedspreads are some of the items available, each with a label saying where it was made. Proceeds go toward community development programmes run by the same company.
13. Bettr Barista, Singapore
Education is key to a better life – that’s what the people behind Bettr Barista want to impart to the disadvantaged women who study the art of coffee-making there. Set up in 2011, proceeds go toward paying for the education and training of these women employed by the cafe.
14. Big Delicious Planet, Chicago, USA
This certified green, farm-to-table restaurant operates out of a former metal shop in Chicago with an onsite organic farm that grows more than 80 types of vegetables and herbs. The building was retrofitted with an energy-efficient geothermal system to help save on utilities.
– TEXT BY HANNAH KOH
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.