Change Please, our coffee brand made to help the homeless by the homeless, was named by Richard Branson as his ‘start-up of the year’ in 2018.

Along with the likes of Alex Chesterton, Peter Cowley and Niklas Zennstrom, Branson was one of eight entrepreneurial experts to reveal the small businesses they believe to be destined for greatness in a piece for The Times.

We launched Change Please, a coffee cart brand staffed by the homeless and selling coffee where commuters needed it most - on the street on the way to work. We trained them as baristas, paid them London Living Wage and provided housing, thus creating a fully-rounded, self-sustaining model to help them get themselves back on their feet.

In the article ‘The best start‑ups we saw this year — by Branson and Co’, Branson acknowledged the success we have had with the brand since its launch in 2015. 

"Change Please is my start-up of the year. This social enterprise, founded by Cemal Ezel, finds homeless people and trains them to be baristas, giving them a route off the streets and back into work. It provides them with solar-powered coffee carts while their leftover coffee grounds are converted into bio-fuel pellets.

Change Please is part-funded by Virgin StartUp, our not-for-profit company that is dedicated to providing funding and mentor support to entrepreneurs across the UK. You will find its coffee in leading supermarkets and it will soon be available on the streets of New York where it is opening three sites. It now works with hundreds of other companies supplying coffee and reinvests income in trying to reduce homelessness.

The story is best told through the people. Change Please now has 33 sites in the UK and 84 people have been employed and housed while hundreds more have been provided with training. 

Two former employees have set up their own businesses and subsequently employed other homeless people. One member of staff, Matthew, is no longer sleeping on London buses and now trains new staff to be baristas in their first site in a Tube station in partnership with the Mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL)."

We are delighted that Change Please has been recognised amongst a list of highly successful, and predominately tech-based, start-ups. This follows the news that Change Please will be serve the premium coffee range onboard Virgin Trains, enabling  Change Please to train more baristas and raise further awareness of the brand as a result of the partnership. 

Take a look HERE at the original article for the full list of entrepreneurs and their tipped start-ups.