Khupsamlian Khaute, founder of Diaspora, says his experiences as a new immigrant inspired him to give back to others now in his shoes.
Born in Northeast India near the country’s border with Myanmar, Khupsamlian (aka Sam), came to Oregon in 2013. As an immigrant without prior job experience in the US, finding work was not easy. After six months of searching, Sam finally got a job at a cafe. His employer, an Iranian refugee, took the time to teach him and mould his interest in the coffee industry. Two years into his work as a barista and coffee roaster, Sam knew he wanted to use his skills to make an impact for the refugee and immigrant community.
In 2017, he founded Cafe Diaspora, a social enterprise dedicated to empowering the refugees and immigrants by providing first-job experience, training and English language skills. Diaspora was awarded a Missional Grant in 2018.
“We want to provide a space [for trainees] to learn and immerse themselves into the new culture without getting overwhelmed,” Sam says. He believes working in a cafe setting played a huge role in his cultural integration as a new Portlander. “Apart from the trainings, we highly value the cultural integration experience that a trainee gains throughout their time with us. This will come from their daily interaction with customers, our volunteers and other trainees.”
Plans to open a new cafe and training space, Jubilee Hall, are underway in 2021.