New coffee shop in Portsmouth train station is already award-winning

James Cartwright and Pravin Isram at Canvas
James Cartwright and Pravin Isram at Canvas
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A CAFE that opened at Portsmouth & Southsea train station earlier this year has won a social enterprise business award.

Former IBM consultant Pravin Isram decided he wanted to do something to help people as well as serve high quality coffee.

From the outside, Canvas Coffee Shop serves locally roasted coffee, Portsmouth Tea and pastries and cakes from Southsea bakery, Bread Addiction.

As well as serving locally-produced goods, 30-year-old IT specialist Pravin and business partner James Cartwright are providing support for people recovering from substance misuse.

Pravin explains: ‘My family are from Mauritius and alcoholism is a huge thing there.

‘Family members of mine have been affected by it.

‘I had done bits of voluntary work in the area before deciding to set up the social enterprise.

‘Around 18 months ago, I got a place for the School for Social Entrepreneurs and I worked on a concept where you set up a coffee shop but help people behind the scenes.

‘I don’t think there is anywhere else doing what we are doing.

‘In Shoreditch in London, there is a coffee shop called Paper and Cup, but they promote the work they are doing as a social enterprise.

‘When we got the funding, we said we didn’t really want to do that because the coffee is what we are selling.

‘We opened the coffee shop in March and so far it has been fantastic. It is a pop-up cafe that we managed to persuade South West Trains to allow us to open.

‘We had funding of £2,900 from UnLtd and I put some of my own money in.

‘Since we started, we have broken even.

‘We have covered every single cost already. We have also delivered some courses and things like that.

‘We have also managed to take on two full-time and three part-time staff.’

Despite opening just eight months ago, the team has already picked up an award from Shaping the Future of Portsmouth, which was handed over by the Lord Mayor Councillor Steven Wylie.

Pravin said: ‘We’re thrilled to have been recognised with this award which tops off a very good first year for Canvas.

‘We’ve been overwhelmed with the help we’ve had including generous discounts and free stock and equipment from suppliers La Marzocco and Cream Supplies.

‘This support, followed by us receiving the award only drives us on with our aim to bring the very best coffee to Portsmouth while helping some great causes.’