Social Enterprise Cafe , Cartagena

$6,765 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 74 people in 24 months
Vanessa Brettell  Deakin, ACT

Help us fight inequality by giving employment, training and work experience to the disadvantaged in Colombia through the creation of a social enterprise café!

Co-creators Vanessa, Tom and Hannah are passionate about helping reduce the serious social inequality in Cartagena.

Despite Colombia's middle-income country status, Colombia is constantly in the top 10 most inequal countries. Struck by the contrast between the neighbourhoods and tourist areas  of Cartagena, Vanessa was driven to  try and reduce this clear inequality. Tom,  finishing up his double bachelors in business and management, saw a unique opportunity to combine his skill sets with his friend, Vanessa. Hannah, an experienced waitress and restaurant manager, decided to  join the team to put her skills to use, helping make this idea to help those less fortunate come to life.

The three teamed up with an amazing local NGO, FEM (Fundación por la Educación Multidimensional ) who  have been working to empower the indigenous and afrocommunities in Cartagena for the last 10 years. There support and local knowledge will help ensure we are working in the most beneficial way possible.

For more information about what we do, our staff, our location, events etc: or our facebook  page:

Having found a space to rent in the historic barrio of Getsemani, the team opened at the end of June, 2017.


A small not-for-profit, social enterprise café in Colombia that provides hospitality training and English lessons to disadvantaged youth through employment and practical experience. Aiming to give them the skills to move into further employment and provide for themselves in the future.

This café offers  high quality, traditional Australian food with a Colombian twist, local coffee, juices, smoothies and alcohol. 

The cafe is a safe, comfortable, relaxing environement for customers, locals and tourists alike, to socialize  while enjoying great quality food and beverages.  Our employees will be getting work experience and training while our customers enjoying Australian cuisine and helping a charitable endeavour.

The Creators

Vanessa Brettell
Spending time in Mexico as a child, Vanessa developed a strong love of Latin culture. She completed her Bachelor of Latin America Studies at the Australian National University in her home town, Canberra, Australia which included a semester at Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia. After graduating, she worked several hospitality jobs while travelling, volunteering and gaining life skills which has solidified her desire to return to Colombia to help.

“I’m so excited to put my passion and experience into practice and watch these youth gain confidence, skills and the ability to support themselves.”

Tom Navakas

Tom grew up in Canberra, Australia, with a strong desire to start a business enterprise and a love of food from a young age. Attending cooking classes and utilising school hospitality classes, he developed his love for cooking and baking sweet treats and desire to own a restaurant. After graduating from a Bachelor of Business Administratin and Management from the University of Canberra, he is now equipped with knowledge, drive and passion to start his business dreams.

Vanessa and Tom
They became best friends in primary school while travelling together as adults and discussing their respective futures, the seed idea for Cafe Stepping Stone was born. Combining their aspirations and passions, they decided to create a social enterprise cafe that will help reduce social inequality while providing interesting and nutritious meals. 

Hannah Costello
Hannah has recently joined the team and will be putting her vast hospitality experience and natural skills in the kitchen to use. She has been a vital part of the whole process with her creative thinking, management experience, vegan cooking skills and love of hositality.

What we'll do with the funds

Every dollar we will receive will go towards the refurbishment of the café and towards staff training, uniform, and wages.

Even small amounts make a large difference, just $5 can ensure we have electricity to run for one day.

Here is what more can do:

      $5  = staff meals for the day.
      $15 =  induction and uniform for 1 employee.
      $50 =  basic training program for 1 month 
      $300 =  subsidise monthly wages for an employee 
      $2000 =  rent of the venue for a month

For more information and updates, visit our website and follow us on instagram and facebook. 

               Thanks in advance for helping us help!

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Update 3
Posted by Vanessa Brettell
15 months ago
We've been open for three months now and the progress and development of the cafe and all the staff has been amazing to be a part of.

To continue helping the youth of Cartagena we need ongoing donations and support. No matter how small, every dollar counts.

Put your change towards some real change!
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Update 2
Posted by Vanessa Brettell
20 months ago
We have teamed up with a local not-for-profit foundation, FEM, doing great work to empower indigenous and afro communities in Cartagena, Colombia. Cafe Stepping Stone will operate independently but the support of FEM will simplify administration, reduce start up costs and give the project more security. It will also ensure that we are benefiting the local community in the most productive way possible.

To find out more about FEM, visit their website:
+ Read More
Update 1
Posted by Vanessa Brettell
22 months ago
Quick update!

We've been busy exploring and meeting up with NGOs, lawyers and locals here in Cartagena, trying to make connections and learn more about the disadvantaged communities here. We're really glad our idea has been really well received and people have been so willing to help.

Looking for property is one of top priorities and while there are plenty of spaces for rent, the prices are higher than expected. The cheaper places are still US$500 a week.

Keep the donations and sharing coming in! There is no donation too small. We appreciate all the help we have received so far but the fight is just getting started!
+ Read More
Read a Previous Update
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$6,765 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 74 people in 24 months
Created January 30, 2017
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GoFundMe Team
2 months ago

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Michaela Durston
6 months ago

love this! Good luck with it all!

6 months ago
6 months ago
7 months ago
Wendy Van Aalst
9 months ago

Thanks for a lovely experience. Our daughter took us here. Originally from Canberra and she now lives in Colombia. I saw a newspaper article in the Canberra Times last year and said we are going there when we visit. Great food. Great service.

Rach Rach Elise Ladies
14 months ago
Damien Eames
14 months ago

Keep up the good work!

Airlie Brett
14 months ago
Carol Mouy
14 months ago

Hope this little bit helps, Very proud of what you both are doing Caz Costello xx

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