As the founder of social enterprise The Underground Collaborative, Katie Liew officially launched Ground+Co in November after completing the Curtin University Ignition program in 2018.
Katie foster a supportive team and working environment where working at Ground+Co was like being part of a family, and not just a job.
The team receive on the job training which is an important part of the business model as well as formal barista training.
Katie aims to incorporate one-on-one mentoring with employees, as well as meditation and trauma-sensitive yoga to provide support with their mental health.
Photographer: Francine Cruz
Katie was born in Malaysia and moved
to Australia when she was 2 years old.
She studied in Perth and worked in the
mining and resources industry before
taking time off to and travel to Africa
and developing countries, where she
discovered her passion for volunteering,
social justice, and international aid.
“ After travelling to Africa for two months and
spending some time in poverty-stricken areas,
I returned feeling a mixture of emotions. I was
completely dissatisfied, angry, and deflated with the
state of our world, yet, so energised with ideas on
how I would change it! Consequently, I rediscovered
my passion and immersed myself in research,
volunteering and trying to understand life. I was (and still am) committed to international aid, but at the same token, I knew for me, charity was to begin at home.”
In June 2017, Katie founded the Underground Collaborative – a Perth-based social enterprise that creates employment and housing solutions for people experiencing, or who are at risk of homelessness.
She plans on addressing homelessness in
three ways: employment, education and
empowerment. Through her social enterprise
she has formed Ground+Co, which trains and
employs those most marginalised to become
baristas and provide supportive pathways to
transition into mainstream employment.
She believes employment can help to break
the cycle of homelessness by providing people
with the necessary income, self-esteem, and
sense of community connection. Katie is also
passionate about breaking stigmas and raising
awareness, and believes that education is a
contributing catalyst for change in breaking
societal taboos. She believes that when we
understand, we connect.
The problems we seek to solve are complex and
challenging, and often incredibly overwhelming.
It demands the collaboration of leaders,
governments, communities, and individuals.
Collaboration is at the core of what Katie does,
she believes that only when we work together,
can we make sustainable and impactful change.
Every coffee people buy helps us to continue employing people experiencing homelessness.
This not only provides people with some financial stability and confidence and all the wonderful benefits of employment, but can also reduce the duration of homelessness as our employees become more empowered, gain independence and most importantly, transition into long-term stable housing to somewhere they can call home.
- Katie Leiw
Katie Liew - Name Meaning
The name Katie means pure.
Katie was originally used to express fondness or familiarity when referring to people with the names Katherine, Kate, Caitlin, Kathleen and their related forms.
It's origins can be traced back to the Greek Αἰκατερίνα or Αἰκατερίνη (Aikaterína, Aikaterínē), which is of uncertain etymology. The earliest known use of the Greek name is in reference to Saint Catherine of Alexandria.
In the early Christian era it came to be associated with the Greek adjective καθαρός (katharos), meaning "pure", leading to the alternative spellings Katharine and Katherine. The former spelling, with a middle a, was more common in the past and is currently more popular in the United States than in Australian and Britain.
Katherine, with a middle e, was first recorded in England in 1196 after being brought back from the Crusades.
We have been unable to confidently suggest a meaning for the name Liew 刘. There is some suggestion that it may be aligned to the the word strong.
Liew 刘 is a Chinese surname. It is likely to have originated in the Chinese regions of Jiangxi, Hunan, Hubei, Anhui, and Fujian, where Gan is spoken (Gan is a group of Sinitic languages spoken in China). This spelling is often found in English translations from Malaysia. It is believed to have originated from the Han Dynasty.