Cafe in Cameroon helps young people join global sustainability effort

As part of a growing network around the world, Open World Cafe Cameroon opened in the city of Yaoundé in January 2011

The new facility offers vocational training for unemployed young people, providing access to IT facilities and promoting education in conservation, renewable energy and international development.

Youth educator Joshua Konkankoh, who is the coordinator of the NGO, Better World Cameroon, and who set up the initiative, said: “My vision is to link school nature clubs and underprivileged children living in city slums and rural areas, to youth networks and sustainability professionals worldwide.”

Scaling up an existing facility, which includes a market garden and tree nursery, Joshua plans to serve traditional organic food and drinks at the cafe and develop it into a sustainable community centre where people can meet and discuss environmental issues. Long-term, he hopes to also develop the cafe into a distribution centre for organic food, working with small-scale farmers. Joshua said he is committed to giving a voice to indigenous knowledge systems, while helping underprivileged children integrate into modern society.

The Open World Cafe model has been created by the Sweden-based Open World Foundation, as an open-source concept that brings together passionate individuals and communities around the world, sharing a common vision of a truly prosperous and sustainable way of life.

Promoting healthy lifestyles and encouraging a holistic approach, the cafes offer nutritious foods and spaces for workshops on personal development, leadership and sustainability issues. As well as Cameroon, the cafes currently exist or are in development in Sweden, Brazil, India and Spain.

“The organisation is creating a platform for a growing network of inspiring and action-oriented individuals; people who believe in themselves and their visions for a better future,” said Christiana Soderberg, head of communications at the Open World Foundation.

She added: “Some of the biggest decisions have been made over a cup of coffee, so we think a cafe is a great ‘third place’ after the office and the home.”