Empowering women through social enterprise

On International Women’s Day we are reflecting on the role social enterprise can have on female empowerment. In this article, we look at diversity, social enterprise and showcase the women we have supported through Well Grounded.

I (Eve) started Well Grounded in 2016, with my sole objective being to make positive changes to the lives of as many people as possible. Coffee was my vehicle to make that dream a reality.

Well Grounded provides a pathway into employment in the coffee industry, for those that are facing barriers to works in the industry. We provide people with training, jobs, and ongoing professional development, which ultimately leads to improved financial security and well being. To date we’ve worked with over 100 individuals, and transitioned 83% of our Traineeship Graduates into work. Together with my female Chair, Lindsey MacDonald, we advocate for social enterprise as a way to tackle unemployment and social inequality.  

The very essence of what we do is about diversifying the talent pool for the coffee industry, that includes people from different socioeconomic brackets, gender and race. Therefore at the core of our value system is diversity, along with empowerment, inclusion and very importantly, fun.  

Women represent a majority of the 25 million coffee farmers (IWA) at coffee origin, however, along the production line women become less represented. Their role and treatment at origin is for another day and article… Today, we showcase the impact 2 remarkable women, who graduated from our programme in December 2016, are having on the industry:

Aashifa Hussain, 21, Head Barista at Vagabond;

Aashifa Hussain, Well Grounded Graduate

“I’d always wanted to create a real difference. Somewhere between graduation and finding a job my tail became raggedy and less bright. Everyone says Graduates can walk into jobs, but my confidence was at rock bottom and I felt like I was falling down a rabbit hole.

I stumbled across Well Grounded, it was shocking to believe that there was an organisation that wanted to provide real tangible skills to people like me. Ever since my life has dramatically changed – I know this is that proper cliche stuff, but that change I wanted to create, I’m doing that all, through one cup of coffee.

It feels like every time I serve a cup, every time I smile at a customer, I’m changing the world, taking it by storm. I aspire to do more, I aspire to create more safe spaces – particularly for people that identify as females, I aspire to go further, wherever coffee takes me, because in coffee I find that home that I know so many people crave. And Well Grounded gave me that, it gave me a home to build and call my own. Call it a happy mistake, a coincidence, but I know I’ve found my place in the World.”


Rasha Obaid, Well Grounded Graduate

Rasha Obaid, 26, Quality intern at Falcon Specialty Coffee “I am a refugee from Yemen and had to seek asylum after fleeing the civil war in my home country. I came to the UK and had to start all over again. Well Grounded helped me get a Barista role at Notes Coffee, where I learnt as much about coffee as I could. This was followed by an internship at Origin in Rwanda and finally a position as Quality Intern at Falcon Specialty Coffee, the leading specialty green bean buyers. But now I’m actually on a 6 month sabbatical in Trieste..on a fully sponsored masters in Coffee Economics.

My long term dream is to source coffee directly from Yemen and support women in my home country to access work. Well Grounded is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I don’t know what I would have done without it. It’s changed my life.”



Lindsey MacDonald, Chair Well Grounded and Director of Strategy and Impact, Street League


Today on International Women’s Day, as two female leaders, we celebrate all women and all workplaces embracing female progress. A diverse workplace is a successful, vibrant and innovative workplace. Our aspiration is for a thriving social enterprise sector and a responsible workplace that strives for equality, in every sense of the word. We hope we highlight the impact that investing in women in the workplace can have.

March 8, 2018 by Eve Wagg and Lindsey MacDonald