Nuno Ridenio is a 30-year-old entrepreneur. He was among the youth who had the opportunity to work as seasonal workers in Broome, Australia from 2012-2013. Nuno worked hard in various hospitality businesses such as restaurants and bars. Along the way, he learned entrepreneurial skills and realised that he wanted to work for himself, to create his own job. However, he was not sure what type of business he wanted to start.
When Nuno returned to Timor-Leste in 2015, he worked at a hotel on Atauro Island. Here, he developed his customer service skills and became more aware of the café culture in Dili. Although coffee is extremely popular, in Dili there were only concentrated locations for cafes. This inspired Nuno’s idea to create a mobile coffee cart.
‘Before opening a mobile coffee cart, I loved to drink coffee around Dili. But I realised quickly there is nowhere for middle-class people to drink coffee in Timor-Leste. I started to think that we need a mobile café, so everyone can enjoy Timorese coffee and not just in the expensive places' he says.
Indeed, on average a barista-style coffee in Dili usually costs around US$3.00. In Dili, this is usually enough to buy a meal for lunch. Nuno wanted to make the coffee cheaper and more accessible to Timorese people. He developed plans to produce a coffee cart. The cart would move around, and coffee could be sold at any location and to everyone in Dili.
Nuno also sells ‘Cold Brew’ bottles of coffee, which he learned to make mostly through YouTube and from coffee companies in Indonesia. Cold Brew Coffee was innovative and different, and this skill provided him with a competitive advantage compared with other cafes in Dili. Nuno started to develop plans for this business. In 2017, Nuno won an innovative business competition from IADE and received some funding to develop his coffee cart business. Nuno began selling his Cold Brew Coffee at local events, from his coffee cart, and in some supermarkets such as Agora Food Studio and Qulina Supermarket.
‘I started out by opening Black Box Coffee and then I became inspired to expand my business,’ he says.
Nuno heard from his friend, Silvia, a junior business trainer at the Knua Juventude Fila-Liman Centre that he could expand his business and develop his skills through their training sessions. These sessions include ‘social business camps’ and ‘existing business camps’ which link and connect business partners and experts with entrepreneurs. Attending the social business camps and the existing business camps provide youth with a chance to learn and network. Nuno also learned from existing entrepreneurs about how he could continue a successful business.
Upon the launching of the online e-market platform www.filaliman.tl, he began selling his coffee products online. Nuno was the first person who successfully completed a transaction from the e-market online sales. Nuno strongly recommends attending the trainings at Knua, not only for what they provide, but also to learn about the capacity of all the different entrepreneurs in Dili.
‘I think it is important that even when you have established something, you need to always want to learn more and grow more. Especially as an entrepreneur, you want to create better and better products. That means networking, that means learning, you can never assume you know everything. The key is to continuously educate yourself,’ Nuno says.
Nuno has since expanded his business. In May 2018, he opened a small café by day, and bar by night. His bar is called ‘Black Box’ and operates in Farol, central Dili. Nuno now has regular customers and has employed an additional three people since starting his business. Nuno has an increasing number of customers every weekend and with his cheap drink prices and the accessibility of his business is positive that he can maintain the popularity of the bar. Nuno is expanding his business to include bar food for busy weekend nights, which will increase his sales.
About the Knua Centre:
Knua Juventude Fila-Liman (KJFL) is a one-stop youth innovation and entrepreneurship hub, managed and sponsored by UNDP Timor-Leste in partnership with the Secretary of State for Youth and Labour, IADE, SERVE, BNCTL, and Telemor.
At the centre, youth can access information and be trained and empowered through activities to improve their employability and entrepreneurship skills, as well as promoting their voices and engagement in development.