EastLondonLines’ week of celebrating start-ups continues with a look at the community café that’s blossoming in Deptford
Update: EastLondonLines has been notified that this cafe has in fact closed – although, it remains a community meeting space. At the time of reporting, we were told it was not closing. This story will remain for archiving. You can read an update from People Before Profit here.
Currently, more than 12,000 businesses are up and running in Lewisham, and the council is continually working to provide more support and training for small start-ups.
Lewisham has a lot of regular networking events, workshops, surgeries and seminars on business development for local people and communities. The Lewisham and Southwark Business Advisory Service and the Community Based Business Support Service are good places to find advice and support for new start-ups.
In a business report from 2011, Lewisham Council said: “It is our view that more support should be provided to small businesses. They need to be given more information on the help available to them; and specifically, they need to be encouraged to tender for contracts with the council.”
Consequently, the council also arranges short training courses every fourth Friday of the month from 10am to 12.30pm.
However, Amina Mangera, managing director of a new start-up in Deptford, says: “Even though there is a rise in self-employed businesses in Lewisham, it is hard to get loans, and only two out of 10 start-ups survive.”
In her opinion, the problem by starting up a new business in Lewisham is the fact that the small businesses often are pushed out of the high streets by the big multinationals.
However, she pointed out that as a result of this many new start-ups are registered as a CIC (community interest company), which focuses more on the neighbourhood and less on profit.
Her purple café, located in the busy street halfway between Deptford Bridge DLR station and New Cross station, is one of the success stories in Lewisham. The café, called Come the Revolution, opened just seven months ago but has already become a favourite among locals.
Pete Millwall, from Deptford, said: “This place has the best food in the area. Everything is locally sourced and homemade, and they have a lot of things going on for the local community.”
Mangera says: “[Like] many new start-ups in Lewisham, Come the Revolution is not just a café, but also a community social space that offers everything, from a warm cup of coffee to free training, a green space to grow your own food and events and meetings for the neighbourhood.”
Among others, the café has a book-corner where people can swap their books for any of the other books on the shelf of similar value.
“With local libraries closing down left, right and centre, we felt it was important to try and give the community a chance to still have access to books,” says Mangera.
Additionally, the café offers a wide range of tea and coffee, delicious homemade cakes and snacks. The menu has a daily £2 special, plus a range of toasted baguettes – all locally sourced and organic wherever possible.
Mangera says the aim of the café is to “pull people together and share the positive sides of the local community.”