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Starbucks Malaysia Commits To Uplift More Than 300 Women In The B40 Community

More than RM370,000 was contributed to YWCA’s Vocational Training Opportunity Centre to enhance skillsets amongst young girls and women who will lend their hand in sewing the Starbucks Upcycled Flavorlock™ Pouch.

Starbucks Malaysia partners posing together with YWCA members

Starbucks Malaysia announced today a contribution of RM374,400 (around US$90,000) to the Vocational Training Opportunity Centre (VTOC) transformational project, which is a community-led initiative by YWCA Kuala Lumpur and its partners. The grant, with support from The Starbucks Foundation, will be utilized over three-years to enhance the VTOC courses, as well as equip the students with the knowledge and abilities required to thrive in an ever-changing, dynamic and uncertain environment in the aftermath of COVID-19.

Dato Sydney Quays, handing over a mock check to Joanne Yeoh, President of YWCA Malaysia

Starbucks Malaysia has also launched its Starbucks Upcycled Flavorlock™ Pouches in March, which are made from the packaging of its whole bean coffee and donated to the social enterprise made up of the graduates of the VTOC program. Starbucks Malaysia then repurchase the completed product from them to retail at its stores, and for every pouch purchased, RM1 will be channeled as additional funding to advance the work that YWCA Kuala Lumpur has been doing to protect lives and livelihoods of the young girls and women of the B40 community in Malaysia.

“At our core, Starbucks is committed to strengthening organizations within the local communities, such as YWCA KL. This partnership demonstrates how businesses like ours can close the loop on many of our disposable materials by upcycling our used Starbucks Flavorlock™ Whole Bean packaging into pouches that we now retail at our stores, in which the proceeds will be channeled back to YWCA KL and the B40 Community that are helping us produce these pouches,” said Dato’ Sydney Quays, Group CEO of Berjaya Food Berhad and managing director of Starbucks Malaysia & Brunei.

Students of the Vocational Training Opportunity Centre (VTOC), YWCA

Starbucks first partnered with YWCA Kuala Lumpur in 2019, a non-profit organization that works for the development of women and girls irrespective of race, religion, culture, and socio-economic circumstances. Some of the projects run by YWCA KL today include an edible garden and an onsite vocational school for young women in KL called the Vocational Training Opportunity Centre (VTOC). The VTOC program includes Culinary and Bakery, Sewing and Tailoring, and more.

“We are excited about the collaboration between Starbucks Malaysia and the YWCA Kuala Lumpur’s Social Enterprise Estate, as the production of the Starbucks Flavorlock™ Coffee Bag pouches will increase the livelihood of our B40 seamstresses and empower them to do more for their families and community," said Sandra V. Singam, President of YWCA Kuala Lumpur. “We are also grateful for the three-year grant that will directly contribute to the VTOC Transformation Project, a new program that will focus on digital literacy, creative and cultural product, as well as widening our students’ repertoire of marketable skills in an increasingly digital economy.”

Starbucks Malaysia partners infront of the YWCA

With the grant by Starbucks, YWCA Kuala Lumpur will be able to develop their newest program, the VTOC Transformation Project, which has been designed to benefit the female youth of Malaysia. The fund will first see the setup of a creative studio at YWCA, which will become the primary site for the students to learn new skills that will help enhance their creative thinking, content creation and self-expression. For level two, students will undergo more practical training by developing core skills and how to execute their final showcase.

Media tour around YWCA

The last stage of the VTOC transformational course will be to learn entrepreneurship by applying what they have learned and seeking out internships that align with their newly acquired skills. The VTOC Transformation Project will then culminate in the creation of a musical movie, featuring original script, songs and dance sequences by the students assisted by industry specialists. The movie shall feature costumes and makeup/hair designed by the students to showcase their vocational skills, forming a portfolio to seek employment after graduation.

Starbucks Upcycled Flavorlock™ Pouch customization session for media

Starbucks Upcycled Flavorlock™ Pouches
The Starbucks Upcycle Flavorlock™ Pouch is only made possible with the tens of thousands of customers who have donated their used Flavorlock Whole Bean bags at Starbucks stores across Malaysia since 2019.

Starbucks Upcycled Flavorlock™ Pouch customization session for media

Each of the Starbucks Upcycled Flavorlock™ Pouch is handmade with Starbucks Wordmark zippers and Starbucks Malaysia label sewn in the inner part of the pouch. The inner lining of the pouch is from remnant high-quality fabrics donated by sofa upholsterers, curtain vendors and others; instead of disposing them to landfills. These remnants come in a range of patterns and colors and are matched by our volunteers according to concepts or color schemes. Once matched, the fabrics are cut to shape for sewing.

Rina Siew, CSR Manager, Starbucks Malaysia

Every Starbucks Upcycled Flavorlock™ Pouch is uniquely different. and just like coffee, there are many hands and care to create a great cup of coffee. The Starbucks Upcycled Flavorlock™ pouches ​are finally sewn by VTOC graduates and seamstress from B40 communities seeking to improve their livelihoods through sewing.
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