Meet Julius Ibrahim, the 21-year-old entrepreneur tackling homelessness in London one espresso at a time
Julius Ibrahim is the fresh-faced entrepreneur who wants your morning coffee to do more than just kick start your day. The 21-year-old student and social enterprise advocate’s project aims to get homeless people off the streets and behind the bar of your new favourite coffee haunt.
Londoners need to wake up and smell the coffee, so to speak, according to Ibrahim. “When I moved to London to study at UCL in 2013, I was shocked by the huge number of people on the streets,” he explains.
“Walking around somewhere in central London like Bloomsbury or Victoria, homelessness is hugely visible. I thought ‘how can this be the financial capital of the world, when there are so many people on the streets?’”
That question is exactly what inspired Ibrahim to create Second Shot Coffee, a social enterprise that will offer three homeless people training, full time employment and the London Living Wage.
Julius’ combined passions for street food, good coffee and social enterprise as well as an impressive CV boasting a stint as the president of UCL’s Enactus society, a nationwide group that focuses on business that will benefit people, all came together in his first entrepreneurial business venture. Second Shot is the realisation of a dream to create something that gives “the very best experience for customers, while doing something great for London’s homeless population at the same time”.
“I want to change society’s perception of homeless people. Homelessness could happen to anyone, especially in a city like London,” he says. He’s not wrong – statistics show that around 400,000 people are affected by homelessness in the UK, although not everyone ends up on the streets. Hostels, B&Bs, squatting and living in uncomfortably overcrowded conditions are just some of the ways the “hidden homeless” live, many of whom want to work but are unable to find a job.
An impressive £6,000 raised through crowd funding along with generous help from investors has helped get the idea off the ground, and Julius hopes to have an East London location secured in coming months.
It’s not just coffee and artisan baked goods Second Shot customers will be able to pick up – there’s also an option to use the Pay It Forward scheme, which allows you to do your one good deed for the day by buying a meal or a drink for someone in need. All food left over at the end of the day will be handed out to the needy, minimising waste and creating a “hub for homelessness”.
So what’s next for the UK’s most mindful young entrepreneur? A whole string of Second Shots? An instant coffee brand? World domination? “At the moment we’re just working on making our first cafe as successful as possible,” Julius laughs. “Right now I’m trying to make the perfect cheese toastie. The key is to try and get the most flavour possible.”