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Our3Q – Bettr Barista, Singapore

Tania (Content and Communication manager) and Pamela (founder) are working for Bettr Barista, world-class coffee education, certification and learning-for-life programme that enrich body, mind and soul. They organize commercial courses as well as social ones to support people from disadvantage backgrounds.

Q1: What do you appreciate yourself in the business mainly for?

I think for being still around 45 years later, being in a place like that, much bigger than at the beginning, having people recognizing our name, like you. Your request for interview is also a success for me. Not even mentioning the 15 intakes of people from disadvantage background who went through our social programs and the employees, who build their career as coffee professionals right now. 

Q2: What is the biggest challenge for you now?

Every day is challenging, there is so many different aspects in what we do. Number one is that because we are a social enterprise, we don’t have big corporate budget. And with all the things we want to do, funds disappear very quickly. To give marketing as an example: We just take what we have and try to do what is possible. Sometimes we have to be in five different places at once. I think you need a certain kind of personality to enjoy working in the start-up scene. Another challenge is obviously the very colorful interactions with all different personalities stepping by our door every day. Even in our social program, everybody is so different and sometimes we feel we are parents to fifty children at once. Even if they are not necessarily young,  it feels like being a mother to a forty-five years old, or sixty years old person. And obviously being a school like that, school which help people from disadvantage background, you are also emotionally involved in what is going on in their lives, at their homes, the issues they face, the problems they face, you can’t run away from it. It can be challenging. You may sit at 3 AM because somebody calls and needs to speak with you. 

Q3: What advice do you have for yourself in this situation?

We are focusing on developing our curriculum, our offer, getting more students in. We are also trying to expand our events business, corporate clients, reaching out to more places. We are renting out our roasting. And we try to build a kind of eco-system around our work. We are not only a school, we also touch suppliers; our partners; students who go out and bring what they learn to their working places; our consumers who can experience a more responsible way of consuming, purchasing with purpose. We are also constantly looking how we can increase our impact on women, young people. Probing how we can apply our model outside Singapore, to the rest of South East Asia. I think there is a lot of work we can do in places like Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia. 

Would you like to add something else?

We spend so much time working. I think it’s important to ask ourselves how can we spend this time in the best possible way. How can we make money and help others at the same time? All in all, this is the whole idea of business: to create a product or service which meet somebody’s needs, solve problems. We just use this model for solving important problems. We have a lot of problems in the world and we cannot just wait for the government to solve them. We need to solve them ourselves and business seems to be good idea for doing that.

The questions were asked on our behalf by Anna and Andrea from How to (ex) change the world.


Singapore, 21st April, 2016

ID: 039/100

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