Giving back with Eddie Tan
In the last few years something wonderful has been happening; new social enterprises have been popping up left, right and centre, particularly in Melbourne. However, as the sector has evolved so too have the businesses – for hospitality-based social enterprise STREAT, Eddie Tan has been around to witness, experience and even influence a lot of that evolution, and that growth has impacted him on both a personal and organisational level.
If you haven't heard of STREAT their website explains the organisation very succienctly: it's a "hospitality-based social enterprise that provides supported vocational training and holistic personal support to marginalised and disadvantaged young people in Melbourne."
For Eddie Tan STREAT is not the first social enterprise he has been involved with and it probably won't be the last. When Eddie first started looking for a job in hospitality he happened to walk into Kinfolk, another hospitality-based social enterprise, looking to gain a little experience. But what he found was so much better – a passion.
"My end goal would be to do something in hospitality, whether it's a wholesale or a business of my own. Obviously doing the Bachelor of Busisness (Entrepeneurship) fuelled that in me," says Eddie. "If I ever start my own venture it will definately have a large social component to it. That way you're not just doing a day job, you're not just running a business; instead you're actually helping to change things."
It was while working for Kinfolk, who once shared an office building with STREAT, that Eddie got involved with the latter. Making the switch in late 2012 he started off as a kitchen hand and, like a true intrepenneur, worked his way up. Five years later and Eddie is now a part of the small supervisory team that runs STREAT's main headquarters on Cromwell Street.
The culture is as you'd expect with such low turnover: warm and welcoming. As a part of his job Eddie works with trainees to provide them with mentorship as they go through one of STREAT's programs, but he also recieves constant mentorship from above as well. For Eddie this is where his commitment to STREAT comes from.
"Being with these people, and working alongside some of them, is one of the most humbling things," he explains. "It's a lot easier to see the value in being somewhere when you can physically see you're changing things for people ... working with the trainees is not always easy but it's so rewarding."
We recently headed down to STREAT HQ in Collingwood to have a chat with Eddie about giving back and being creatively engaged.