Cafe Lab

Providing practical learning and work experience for students in low socioeconomic school areas in running a real cafe business, inspiring and empowering youth towards better employment opportunities in the future.

In Manila, schools in low socioeconomic areas face a struggle with retention of high school students through to graduation. Many families prioritise work over education, sending their children to join the workforce before the end of high school. One contributing factor is the cost incurred for students participating in practical courses, such as food technology. For a very poor family, buying the ingredients necessary for their child to join the class is too expensive meaning they are unable to participate and graduate from that class.

Dana Asia designed the Cafe Lab program to give students hands-on work experience in an operational cafe environment in food preparation, food service, and basic business management. The Cafe Lab is run by the students for the students, selling homemade snacks at affordable prices for the students as healthier alternatives to shop-bought snacks while also using less plastic. The income generated by the cafe can be used to pay for ingredients for students to participate in the food technology program and cover any test fees to ensure all students have an equal opportunity to participate and succeed.

Why Cafe Lab?

Provide hands-on work experience opportunities in hospitality skills and entrepreneurship for high school students.

Create an income-generating social business for the school.

Unique training opportunities through certified training providers in various vocational skills to improve opportunities after graduation for high school students in low socioeconomic communities.

Cafe Lab Impact

established and running in urban high schools in Manila.
trained in entrepreneurship, baking, and food service with hands-on work experience.
in school participation rate of student-beneficiaries.

How do we do it?

Training in food preparation, food service and business skills is conducted for high school students and hands-on work experience is offered in the Cafe Lab.

A series of vocational trainings are conducted with the students’ parents, in for example food preparation and sewing, and microfinance facilitated to aspiring entrepreneurs to help the setup of new businesses.

An under-utilised area of the school is identified as the site for Cafe Lab and the Cafe supplies students and teachers with fresh baked good and healthy snacks at affordable prices.

Cafe Lab Success Stories

We have successfully tailored and implemented the Cafe Lab social business model at schools in the Philippines.

Do you want to make an impact through this social business model?


funds a Cafe Lab program to be established, training students and constructing a physical cafe with an inner-city school.

Cafe Lab Model FAQ