Nine years ago, it seemed as if all the doors for Amber and Steve Elworth’s dream to open a coffee shop in North Africa were closed.
Amber says that dream, to open a business that could drive societal change and offer resources for community development, is what brought her and her husband, a pastor at a local church, together in the first place.
But this year they made their vision come true in Baton Rouge. Together with business partner Cindy Barker, the couple opened Light House Coffee on Lee Drive in April, as Business Report details in its new Entrepreneur feature.
The vision behind Light House Coffee is to help refugees in Baton Rouge gain the work experience and cultural skills they need to better their lives. The specialty coffee shop aims to teach soft skills—like the importance of punctuality and hygiene in the workplace—along with more marketable skills, such as creating a résumé, completing a job application and using a computer.
“It took two years just to prepare to be a unique spot in Baton Rouge, and also just to be labeled as a specialty coffee shop,” Amber says.
In the months since opening, an empty seat in Light House has been hard to come by, which Amber says not only benefits the refugees working there, but also provides patrons with a new perspective on a group that has been politicized and misunderstood.
While Amber oversees the day-to-day operations of the shop, Steve and Cindy manage the finance and accounting side of the businesses.
“It is very surreal, because I look in the shop and say, ‘Oh, it really did happen,’” she says.