Hero photograph
Students at school and working in the restaurant


PDG Pushpa Pushpalingam —

The Rotary club of Willetton D9465 and the Rotary Club of Finot D9212 are sponsoring the Friends Café Global Grant Project (GG1418370) in Addis Abba, Ethiopia.

Article by PDG Pushpa Pushpalingam, Rotary Club of Willetton, D9465

This Global Grant provides hospitality training to disadvantaged youth within a professional operating restaurant environment.

The Restaurant is modelled on the Friends International Restaurants located primarily in Asia, which also support disadvantaged youth.

The Friends International partner organization provides the training of staff and teaching program setup for the project which is a first for Africa.


Initially the Friends Café trained 35 trainees in the first year, followed by 50 youths in the second year and in third year the intake will increase to around 65 youths.

The Friends training program consists of a six week intensive preparatory module, an 8 to 12 month on the-job training module at Friends Café, a 2 to 4 week industry placement and finally 3 months of post-graduation employment support.

Training covers restaurant management, personal presentation, English language, Occupational Health and Safety, First Aid, computer skills, cash-handling, catering, front-of-house management, cooking, cleaning, and service to the newly developing hotel and service industry of Ethiopia. 

Students at school
Students at school and working in the restaurant

Once students have completed the program Job Placement officers will then work with the youth and leading local and international restaurants operating in Addis Abba to secure employment for the graduates within the growing local tourism industry. Employment support will include, within the training, a module covering resume building, interview and job search techniques, as well as a personal employment mentor for three months after graduation.


The Restaurant will also support local supply businesses and services.

Project Staging

The Friends Café Project has a number of distinct stages of development as follows

  1. Locate and secure suitable premises
  2. Employ key management staff
  3. Engage a builder to renovate the premises
  4. Purchase equipment & Furniture
  5. Recruit disadvantaged youth.
  6. Open the restaurant.

Within each of these stages the Primary and International hosts were consulted and approvals sought

Recruiting Disadvantaged Youth

The selection process involved a disadvantage test to ensure selected students met the objectives of the project.

The selection criteria:

The applicant must be over 14 years of age, with priority being given to young people who:

  1. are between the ages of 16 to 24
  2. have completed their schooling or do not have access to schooling and cannot find work; or
  3. are at risk of unsafe migration or employment,(slavery)
  4. are socially and economically disadvantaged within the Ethiopian community.

The apprentice must:

  1. have a basic level of English and willing to work hard in English skills to enable them to work in the hospitality industry.
  2. be enthusiastic, hardworking and willing to pursue a career in Ethiopia’s hospitality industry.
  3. be willing and able to work in a team, take instructions from the Bahir Zaf team and respect the rights of other people, including the staff, apprentices and customers of Bahir Zaf.
  4. have the capacity and be committed to completing the apprenticeship.