“A globally unique non-profit bar” will soon open in Melbourne. Shebeen Bar is a social business that will be entirely financed by investors with a social conscience. By drinking at Shebeen, you will be supporting development projects in developing nations. The organisers promise that AUD$2 profit from each drink sale will be donated to a development aid project in that drink’s country of origin.
But young social entrepeneur Simon Griffiths, the creator of the business, says that Shebeen isn’t about “guilt-motivated” drinking, and that Shebeen will be offering a first-class hospitality experience. Rather than highlighting the charitable aspect of his venture, Griffiths prefers to promote the concept of a cool inner city bar with a bohemian ambience. to that end, Griffiths has enlisted the pro bono assistance of various Melbourne designers and promoters, including Melbourne bar impresario Vernon Chalker (Madame Brussels, Gin Palace) and bar designer Michael Anderson (Double Happiness) who will create a design that evokes a South African shebeen.
When it finally opens, Shebeen’s bar staff will be serving beers from Namibia, Peru, Ethiopia and Vietnam, wines from South Africa and a full range of spirits from developing countries. “The return on investment isn’t just social return, the investors will be at the forefront of the global philanthropic revolution which Shebeen is helping to create,” Griffith promises. Promoters promise that the Shebeen Social Investment Fund will make donations of $500,000-$800,000 to their charity partners within “three years of opening which corresponds to a 2-3.2 x donation return.”
Several other Melbourne ventures also run on the social business model including Kinfolk cafe, KereKere coffee, Thank You Water and Asylum Seeker Resource Centre catering.