Catching Up With Sakson Rouypirom, A Man Making The World A Better And More Sustainable Place
It was back in 2017 when he last gave us an official interview. Two years ago, he was the key founder of SATI foundation, a non-profit organisation for underserved kids in Thailand, and a co-owner of Broccoli Revolution and Case Space Revolution, a vegan restaurant and the socially conscious art space above it. We meet up Sakson Rouypirom again at Broccoli Revolution to learn about his latest venture in making the world a better place.
First of all, how have you been?
Very busy [laughs].
What have you been up to?
Four months ago, I started a new cafe called Na at Bangkok 1899. It’s like an artist residency plus a cafe where we do social impact and zero waste practices. It's also like a training centre. Collectively, I call it a social impact cafe because it’s like a platform where we work with other non-profits. For instance, we had a cooking class with Urban Refugees and the Supper Club during the past week, and we are having muay Thai training for the kids later today. We are hoping to provide knowledge and provide work options here. Basically, every business I run is a socially conscious business. Broccoli Revolution, Case Space and now Na Cafe—I incorporate social impact into every job I do.
Why is social impact so important to you?
From a young age, I learned that change has to first start with the individual. If I’m not going to live alone in the forest somewhere, then as an individual, I must do my small part to contribute to society. We often think that problems are not related to us but the reality is that we’re all connected.
What are the main issues you are trying to tackle?
There’s a lot—I’ll try to compartmentalise: Environment, food and people; kids who lack food and kids who lack jobs. I try to connect them all together. So at Broccoli Revolution, we don't use plastic and we practice zero waste for the environment. Kids we work with at Na are at risk, underserved kids, urban refugees and people who need opportunity. I work all over Thailand with multiple non-profit organisations. That’s why Na can be a platform to cooperate with other organisations like Precious Plastic and SOS.
Besides being a vegan restaurant that practices zero waste, what else should we know about Broccoli Revolution?
Nine baht from every juice purchased at Broccoli goes to SATI foundation. The coffee here is also another collaboration with a non-profit organisation from Chiang Mai that supports hill tribes up there with coffee plantations. We also do a mushroom programme where we collect germs from Chiang Rai and the kids under our care grow them. Broccoli Revolution then buys the mushrooms, supporting the kids. As a socially conscious business, you can choose to not only make money but to also be charitable and sustainable.
How do you define sustainability?
Sustainability does not mean giving people money. It means giving people the opportunity to fish. If they already know how to fish, then build them a lake to fish at. Working with smaller farms and smaller vendors is more difficult than working with bigger suppliers because the profit isn’t as high, but we are trying to build an ecosystem of us working together in the long run. That's sustainability to me.
How is Na Cafe different from Broccoli Revolution?
It’s actually a platform. Na is smaller, so it can be used as a training centre. It's harder to do training programmes here at Broccoli Revolution with all the customers. Being smaller, Na is easier for training and can also cooperate with other non-profits.
Can you tell us more about what you have been doing with the urban refugees?
It’s a collaboration between Na and Asylum Access Thailand. Asylum Access is a global organisation that does policy works, helping refugees move from one country to another. We cooperate with them to develop a livelihood programme that includes job training, food training, and we are starting a computer lab soon, for computer skills.
What is the Supper Club at Na Cafe?
Once a month we host a Supper Club, an invite-only dinner where different refugee families cook, people come to eat and the money goes to the family. We’ve had Vietnamese, Pakistani and Afghanistani families cooking, and more is to come. It has to be so exclusive because we don’t want to make a spectacle of the refugees.
What misconception do people have towards your work, if any, that you'd like to change?
I’d like people to open their minds up about the idea of charity or giving in general. I feel that the perception of charity is that we have something that someone else doesn’t have and therefore we have to give something we have, such as money, to someone less fortunate than us. Value is often created from society, the most common denominator being money. I’d like people to see that it’s all about human interaction, giving and taking. If you give a homeless boy 1000 baht, he may be able to buy 20 meals or more. But once that money is gone, he has no more food. The feeling that we receive from supporting this boy, however, makes us feel good about ourselves and may last much longer than that 1000 baht. Running SATI, I’ve received much, much more than I’ve given. I’m constantly given lessons on hardship, perseverance, patience—all constant reminders of how lucky I am.
What future do you want to see?
I believe in sustainability and working together. I believe in building a foundation that connects. So for the businesses I do, I’m building a platform for the problems I see. Hopefully, Broccoli and Na can grow and offer more opportunities for kids and people in general.
What can people do to help any of your activities?
If people want to contribute, they can follow our social media and contact us. It’s important for volunteers to understand that just wanting to help is not enough; we have to use the skillsets that we possess as well. Volunteers can join one of the programmes we already have or help develop a new programme. Our goal is to work together to help make positive changes in society, which require commitment, time and patience. In addition, we are always looking for more information regarding areas or demographics that are in need, whether communities or schools. Please feel free to contact us if you have info.
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