A café restaurant and social platform where your meals will help the disadvantaged and disabled allowing them to earn some money, some respect, and make a difference.
What to experience ?
Sozo Café started as a small street-side stand selling cookies in 2004, and then quickly expanded into a popular Café on Bui Vien Street the next year. The Sozo Student Centre on Su Van Hanh followed in 2006.
The café offers a wide variety of freshly baked cookies and cakes, simple western and Vietnamese meals along with a choice of coffee, juices and bubble tea. Disabled and underprivileged Vietnamese and their children cheerfully provide the service. Visitors are encouraged to suggest menu items and actually teach the staff how to bake new treats or drinks. Sozo will even schedule a training session for new menu items.
Sozo offers free Wi-Fi internet access and computers for guests as well as a variety of handicrafts made by locals, and souvenirs like mugs and t-shirts.
Sozo also welcomes tourists to join the staff and students for language and cultural exchanges, trips to the Mekong Delta or a game night. This provides an enjoyable and memorable experience for tourists while helping them understand the Vietnamese and their culture.
Both locations are easily accessed by the physically challenged with ramps from the street and non-restrictive entrance doors.
How does it help ?
Sozo is a 100% Vietnamese owned company. The board of directors is made up of Sozo staff who have shown initiative and the ability to make good decisions for both the business and the employees. Mainly local staff run Sozo, with a small group of foreign volunteers pitching in as trainers and advisors.
Sozo aims to employ and train the marginalised and disadvantaged in specific work skills with the aim of preparing them for outside jobs. Staff are sent for vocational training, internship at hotels, computer classes, language lessons and even back to school if necessary. After the training Sozo actively seeks to find jobs or internships with established businesses to further help and equip the individuals for their future.
Sozo has also become a centre for university students to learn and contribute to their own communities. There is a volunteer network where students get involved in community work and contribute positively to the social fabric of their society. This is also achieved by linking with other local community projects and NGOs. Several documentaries have been made about the staff at Sozo and what working there has done for them, highlighting their past problems and bringing awareness that disadvantaged individuals can do good, responsible and meaningful jobs.