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Shebeen, the bar where you can drink for charity

Kim Larkin

Fri Dec 23 2011

Shebeen, glass of beer, Apolinar Fonseca

WHAT would you say if we told you there was abar where every beer you bought was a donation to charity? Well, there will be. It’s called Shebeen and it’s coming to Melbourne.

Photo Apolinar Fonseca.

Thirsty for social change? Shebeen is set to bring a social conscience to Melbourne’s drinking scene. Photo Apolinar Fonseca.

SHEBEEN is set to be Melbourne’s newest hotspot with a twist. But we’re not talking about quirky wallpaper or unusually-named cocktails. Shebeen will be completely non-profit.

The concept is simple. When you buy from the selection of international beers at Shebeen, the money will go straight from your pocket to social projects in that particular beer’s motherland. Now that’s drinking for a good cause!

Simon Griffiths is the mastermind behind the project and says he had the idea for a charity bar almost five years ago.

“A girl who I went to university with had just come back from Tanzania and knew I had travelled a lot in the developing world. We were sitting around on Australia Day in 2007 and she told me about this idea she had,” he tells Meld.

“She asked if we could recreate that overseas bar experience here in Melbourne and donate all the profits from the beer back to the countries they came from.”

And so, combining two quintessential student pastimes – helping the less fortunate and enjoying a drink – Simon plans to change the world one Vietnamese, Ethiopian or Mexican beer at a time.

Shebeen isn’t just a thirst-quenching charity drive – Simon says he hopes the project will become one of Melbourne’s trendiest bars. That said, he wants the nightspot to cause people to think about the world beyond their daily lives.

“Shebeen is not so much about a bar,” Simon says.

“It’s more of way for people to think about their daily actions as consumers and how they can do positive things through small decisions each day.

“We’re blending alcohol and the creation of positive social impact, two things that typically wouldn’t be seen together.”

Shebeen follows in the footsteps of other Melbourne-based social businesses like Thankyou Water – bottled water that funds water projects for developing nations – and Kinfolk – the Bourke St cafe where customers choose which project the proceeds of their coffee goes to.

Simon is still in the process of raising the $250,000 needed to open up his own venue, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a taste of Shebeen already.

You can take a sip of the Vietnamese brew Huda at Rice Queen on Smith St, Collingwood, or the Mexican dark ale Negra Modelo at Rice Queens’s upstairs sister restaurant, The Panama Dining Room, with profits going towards Shebeen. The same applies to the profits from the sale of the Ethiopian beer St George at Madame Brussels on Bourke Street. All the profits will go straight into the project’s kitty, so Simon can get the bar up and running sooner.

If you’re feeling particularly generous, you can also donate to the Shebeen bar via their website. It’s only a matter of time before we can drink away some of the world’s problems. That sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?