In their share of dark times for their age,

In crisp white
aprons and sporting the manners of the elite, one would never believe that the
bright faces that greet them with their exquisite food at Café Toto in Kolkata
ever had a dark past. Physically disabled, domestically abused and abandoned
children from across the many streets of the city have found a safe haven in
this famous French café situated in Chetla, near New Alipore, in South Kolkata.
Café Toto, known for its exotic desserts and European cuisine, functions as a
‘Restaurants-School’, where young adults from difficult, underprivileged
backgrounds are trained to become entrepreneurs. The venture is the result of
the combined efforts of NGO Tomorrow’s Foundation and the French NGO Life
Project 4 Youth (LP4Y) accompanied by assistance from the French Consulate in
Kolkata. These young adults, who have had to experience more than their share
of dark times for their age, are picking up entrepreneurial traits quite
enthusiastically. Other than the professional training they receive from the
volunteers, they are also learning the tricks of the trade on the job daily.
Café Toto, which was launched on April, 2016 consists of totally homemade fresh
foods made by the students and includes mostly famous European and French
dishes and is open to the public from Wednesday to Saturday for lunch purposes
only. Running an independent restaurant-chain business is the perfect way to
train these impressionable young adults the ways of managing a small business
and playing the right cards in decision-making to become successful
entrepreneurs. They are taught about the daily sales expected, the
most-sellable dishes for recommendations and the target audience they hope to
attract.

 

 

Decoding Social Entrepreneurship

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Social
entrepreneurship in broad terms refers to innovative activity with a social
objective in either the for-profit sector, such as in social-purpose commercial
ventures (e.g., Dees & Anderson, 2003; Emerson & Twersky, 1996) or in
corporate social entrepreneurship (e.g., Austin, Leonard, Reficco, &
Wei-Skillern, 2004); or in the nonprofit sector, or across sectors, such as
hybrid structural forms which mix for-profit and nonprofit approaches (Dees,
1998). Under the narrow definition, social entrepreneurship is the phenomenon
of applying business expertise and market-based skills in the nonprofit sector
such as when nonprofit organizations develop innovative approaches to earn
income (Reis, 1999; Thompson, 2002). The common factor in all such definitions
is the fact that the underlying drive for social entrepreneurship is to create
social value, rather than personal, organizational and shareholder wealth
(e.g., Zadek & Thake, 1997), and that the activity is characterized by
innovation, or the creation of something new rather than simply the replication
of existing enterprises or practices. The central driver for social
entrepreneurship is the social problem being addressed, and the particular
organizational form a social enterprise takes should be a decision based on
which format would most effectively mobilize the resources needed to address
that problem (Drucker, 1989; Letts, Grossman & Ryan, 1999; Foster & Bradach, 2005).

The
key distinctions between social and commercial entrepreneurship focus on four
different variables, viz.:


Market failure. Commercial market forces do not meet a social need, such
as in public goods (Weisbrod, 1975, 1977, 1983) or in contract failure (Nelson
& Krashinsky, 1973). A problem for the commercial entrepreneur is an
opportunity for the social entrepreneur.


Mission. The fundamental purpose of social entrepreneurship is creating
social value for the public good, whereas commercial entrepreneurship aims at
creating profitable operations resulting in private gain (Austin, Stevenson
& Wei-Skillern, 2006).


Resource mobilization. The nondistributive restriction on surpluses
generated by nonprofit organizations and the embedded social purpose of
for-profit or hybrid forms of social enterprise limits social entrepreneurs
from tapping into the same capital markets as commercial entrepreneurs
(Dollinger, 1984). Additionally, the economics of a social entrepreneurial
venture often make it difficult to compensate staff as competitively as in
commercial markets. However, many employees in social entrepreneurial
organizations place considerable value on nonpecuniary compensation from their
work because of intrinsic value that they derive (Austin, Stevenson &
Wei-Skillern, 2006).


Performance measurement. The social purpose of the social entrepreneur
creates greater challenges for measuring performance than the commercial
entrepreneur who can rely on relatively tangible and quantifiable measures of
performance such as financial indicators, market share, customer satisfaction,
and quality. (Kanter & Summers, 1987). The challenge of measuring social
change is great due to nonquantifiability, multicausality, temporal dimensions,
and perceptive differences of the social impact created (Stevenson, 1983, 1985;  Stevenson &
Jarillo, 1991; Austin, Stevenson & Wei-Skillern, 2006).

Sahlman’s
(1996) model succinctly captures the key elements that are critical
considerations for commercial entrepreneurship, and therefore provides a strong
basis for developing a framework for social entrepreneurship. This model
stresses the creation of a dynamic fit among four interrelated components: the people,
the context, the deal, and the opportunity (PCDO)
(Sahlman, 1996). Because these elements are interdependent and are
situationally determined, the entrepreneur must manage the fit and must adapt
continuously to new circumstances over time.

People
– defined as those who actively participate in the
venture, whose skills, attitudes, knowledge, contacts, goals, and values
provide the resource mix that contributes centrally to success.

Context
– defined as those elements outside the control of the
entrepreneur that will influence success or failure such as governmental
policies, technology, legal, and socio-eco-political environment.

Deal
– defined as the transaction involved in business
processes yielding certain a bundle of values such as emancipation,
empowerment, recognition, social uplift, gratification of personal needs,
social interactions, fulfillment of generative and legacy desires, and delivery
on altruistic goals (Weisbrod,
1975).

Opportunity
– defined as “any activity requiring the investment of scarce resources in
hopes of a future return” (Sahlman, 1996, p. 140).

 

About the NGO

Life Project for Youth (LP4Y) is a Non-Governmental
Organisation (NGO) in Tondo, Manila, Philippines. It also has its centres on
Myanmar, Nepal and India. In Kolkata, it has two centres, one in Chetla and
another one in Hossainpur. Café Toto is a Micro Economic Institution (MEI)
which is acting as a pretext for helping the underprivileged youths as per the
objective of LP4Y. In Chetla there are two MEIs – Café Toto and Toto square and
in Hossainpur, there are two MEIs, one is Yummy and the other one is Ride. In
each MEIs, there are 15 youths each, whose works are structured in a way to
cover every function. In Cafe Toto, the youths make the food, sends it to Toto
square where there are customers too. In the process, they learn how to set a
price on food items, how to negotiate, what can be the expected sales etc.
Yummy mostly deals with snacks, cookie making and Ride helps in rural safety.
Ride has a tie up with Ola cabs. They train the drivers about what safety
measures they can ensure while driving the cab. For example, ill effects of
alcohol on ability to drive, what can happen if they use mobile phone on
driving; they are even shown accidents videos to be demonstrated about rash
driving consequences. There is another café named Le Café at Park Street which
is under ‘Alliance Francaise du Bengale’, where the food is delivered from Café
Toto.

 

Figure
1: Objectives and Activities of the MEI

   

 

Objective of Café Toto

The main objective of
Café Toto is not to earn profit, but to cater to the unprivileged youths and
train them so that they get a decent job. It is for this reason, the 2017
financial data shows a negative return, i.e. the amount of sales they make is
much less than the variable cost. They provide basic training in different
fields of management like English, Communication Skills, IT Skills, Personal
Skills, General Knowledge and a Microeconomic Activity, which in Toto’s case is
cooking. While learning, the youths get a real time exposure to the operations
taking place at different levels. So, basically Café Toto is acting as a
pretext performing as a restaurant with the purpose of training the youths and
making them learn micro-management.

 

Café Toto as Restaurant

Café Toto serves
homemade fresh foods of Continental and French origin (Ref Table 1). The café
is open from Wednesday to Saturday and can seat up to 20 people and reservation
is done on booking. It also provides service in several events, seminars,
workshops etc., where a youth guided by his/her mentor can take part in the
price negotiation process, thus learning by practicing on field. The restaurant
provides a free WiFi facility and recently it has started home delivery too. The
food and beverage department is looked after by a mentor named Ronodeb
Banerjee, a Hotel Management Graduate who trains the youth in that department.

          

 

 

 

Table 1: The menu list of Café Toto

 

Salty

Price
(Rs.)

Desserts

Price
(Rs.)

Beverages

Price
(Rs.)

Chicken Quiche

80

Chocolate Cake

40

Coffee

30

Veg. Quiche

60

Chocolate Crépe

40

Tea

30

Chicken Crépe

80

Choco Banana Crépe

50

Cold Coffee

50

Veg. Crépe

70

Salidou Crépe

30

Choco Smoothie

40

Bread Pizza

60

 

 

Banana Smoothie

40

Pesto Pasta

100

 

 

 

 

 

This is for the normal schedule. In case of bookings
or reservations, they try to make more fancy food items. They negotiate about
what they can provide and what is needed by the customers and ultimately
arrives at a win-win situation. They also make pasta, pizza and other European
delicacies in case of special orders. Café
Toto as Micro Economic Institution

Cafe Toto trains youths
of age group 17-24 years, who are unprivileged, abandoned or dropouts. Some of
them are from Kalighat temple area, some are from roadside slums of Hossainpur
while some are from nearby red- lighted area. The inclusion of these youths occurs
in either by voluntary application to Cafe Toto or counselling and solicitation
through regular visits by volunteers appointed by the NGO in the neighbourhood
followed by necessary scrutiny of family background.

Once inducted, the
youths go through a structured 5-stage process, as mentioned below.

 

Stage
1 – Discovery

The duration of this
stage is one week. Here the youth can discover themselves, such as realising
their ambition and they are guided by the volunteers or mentors in the
respective directions. Some youths also leave if they find that the place not
suitable for them.

 

Stage
2 – Autonomy

After passing through the
discovery stage, the youths go to autonomy stage. The duration of this stage is
four weeks. Here the students are given English lessons as well as made to
learn and cope up with the working environment.

 

Stage
3 – Responsibility

After passing through
the autonomy stage, the youth enters responsibility stage. The duration of this
stage is four weeks. In this stage, target fulfilling plays a vital role. The
mentors give target to the youths which they will have to complete within a
specified interval of time. They will also have to look after whether the
production is going on smoothly or not.

 

Stage
4 – Management

After the
responsibility stage, there comes the management stage. The duration of this
stage is also four weeks. Here the youths learn how to manage a team, they
learn how to plan a week’s schedule and also about several HR policies.

 

Stage
5- Entrepreneurship

This is the last and
final stage. The duration of this stage is six months. In this stage, the youth
leaves the centre and with the help of the learning provided by the institution
and try to find a decent job (monthly salary of at least Rs. 8000). Even Cafe
Toto helps in this process, as it has tie-up with many companies. The youths
can also ask for mock interviews from the institution in this stage to boost up
their confidence level. They also ask for printouts of resume as they are ready
to find a job on completion of the course.

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