This week we’re looking at social enterprise, an area even Russell Brand seems to be involved in. Last month the actor, comedian and activist opened a social enterprise café in East London.
Opposite Hackney’s New Era housing estate lies Trew Era café, a small business which is staffed completely by people in abstinence-based recovery. Opened late last month, Brand attended the opening and explained how the enterprise operates and his future plans for the Trew Era chain.
‘‘This cafe is going to be run by people in abstinence-based recovery. It’s a model which is not for profit, a fully self-supporting new economic enterprise. Eventually, we will trade with one another in our own currency. We are going to create our own systems, our own federations, our own currencies, our own authorities ,’’ said Brand outside the heavily attended opening.
The Trew Era café is operating in a very symbolic location. Opposite the café is the New Era housing estate, which at one point was facing extinction.
Last year, Dolphin Square Foundation, an American housing group bought the estate and tried to evict the building’s 93 residents. The foundation backed out of their decision after Brand supported a campaign to save the estate, a move which inspired him to further help the community.
Not only does the café represent the power of public campaigning, it is already helping small businesses around the area by generating more foot traffic.
‘‘Look, it is already bringing people to the area which is good for my business,” said Ozam, who owns the barber shop two doors down. ‘‘There was a clothes shop there for a bit but it closed down and that place has been empty ever since. So Russell Brand, he is doing good things.’’
The opening of the cafe certainly inspired Brand to declare his love of the current political system.
‘‘Politics is dead, this is the end of politics. We have an opportunity to create something better and it will start with small enterprises such as this. It’s a model which is not for profit, a fully self-supporting new economic enterprise, ’’ continued Brand.