At a recent Food expo at the Cape Town International Convention Centre I encountered the friendly face of Nils Heckscher at the StreetSmart stand. Intrigued by this stand that seemed to have nothing to do with the food industry I curiously asked Nils to tell me a bit more about StreetSmart. “How much time do you have?” he asked me laughingly. And this was the start of learning of his passion for this unique project which supports the work done to get kids off the street and into normal life. Nils Heckscher, comes with a distinguished career in the hospitality business, managing some of Cape Town’s most prestigious hotels, ex Chairman of Fedhasa and ex board member of Cape Town Tourism. As it happens, I have a soft spot for the cause, and was easily swept up in his passion and commitment to what StreetSmart does.
Essentially this is how it works.
StreetSmart gives diners the opportunity to give responsibly. The beauty of StreetSmart is its simplicity. In a StreetSmart restaurant a small, elegant card on the table informs patrons that a voluntary R5 will be automatically added to the table’s bill. If diners would like to add more – or none at all, they just need to inform their waiter. Every cent of the funds raised through restaurants goes to the beneficiaries. All of the operational costs of StreetSmart are sponsored.
The concept first began in the UK in 1998 and has rolled out globally to countries including the USA, Australia and India among others. StreetSmart South Africa has been in operation since June 2005 under the founding patronage of Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The funds raised go to selected and approved organisations that run programmes for the normalisation of street and vulnerable children’s lives. The restaurants in each town raise funds for their own community street children programmes. Currently about 100 restaurants are part of the programme and 14 beneficiaries from different areas have been selected for 2016 among them, Home from Home, Thembalitsha Educare and Zip Zap Circus.
No one likes to be ambushed at the end of their meal for a donation and I like the subtlety of this programme. R5 is a painless add-on to the bill which you will know about from the table card. And if your charity is committed elsewhere, no problem.
There is a list of participating restaurants on their website. At the moment, no fully halaal restaurants are participating. Perhaps by getting word out and asking about the programme at your favourite halaal hangout, that can change soon and we will see the distinctive yellow cards on some halaal tables too.