5050cafefriends was built from the ground up in Auckland, New Zealand. It was developed by a small team of hardworking individuals who believed in its core principle: The 5050 Protocol which is about being able to make new friends and meet them ‘in-person’ on a plutonic 50/50 basis where each person pays for their own beverage upon meeting for the first time thus remaining independent. It was created as a ‘no-strings’ way of meeting people.
It is operational in 5 counties (Aust. Canada, NZ, U.K and U.S.A) which allows people who Join as Friends to communicate with anyone who’s registered. Going live just before the pandemic in 2019 meant that cafes were in lockdown in NZ and being able to send invites out to people to meet in-person in a cafe had only just been developed. Then being able to invite groups of people to a cafe was developed so people could meet in a safer less stressful way if they wished. It wasn’t until 2021 that Payouts (an initiative for cafes or any coffee/beverage serving organisation) was implemented so people could scan-in and Join 5050 as Friends and when they did, a payment is received from 5050 to that organisation where the person scanned-in. This provides a financial incentive for any cafe or coffee/beverage serving organisation to list and display their promocode. ‘
‘If people want to support their local cafe, sports club, retirement home or coffee serving organisation, they can by scanning-in and joining 5050, when they do it provides another revenue stream for that organisation,’ says Julie.
‘Meeting people has always been difficult, but since the pandemic, it’s now even harder because people are working from home more and more and mixing less. Being lonely or alone or feeling socially isolated is becoming the norm’, and fitting in and feeling a sense of belonging is something many people are not experiencing. Not everyone finds that special someone so easily or quickly and many people are working on their own, so having a supportive group of Friends seems more important than ever. And, social media, the tv or a video game might capture your attention for a while but it’s not human contact.’
‘No longer do you have to be single to mingle. So long as your local (cafe) is listed and displaying their promocode, you’ll be able to scan-in and Join 5050 as a Friend and find friends from your area whether you're single or have a partner. If you want to find a little more in common with people than just coming from the same area, you’ll also be notified when someone shares your interests. But you’ll find that even meeting people from your area is a good conversation starter because you already have that commonality.’
How 5050 Was Founded
The Barista, The Book and The Diploma
‘Some times you wonder why your life has gone the way it has, but then you realise that things have happened the way they have for a reason and that the way it has come together - all makes sense. In some ways it can feel as if things were preordained and that your life’s experiences have all contributed to ‘what you’ve created.’ I realise now, that being a barista, writing a book and gaining a Diploma all contributed in some way to ‘the now’ or how 5050 has come to be fashioned in the way it has.
- Julie MacCulloch, Owner and Founder 5050CafeFriends
Julie first started to learn how to make a cappuccino back in about 1980 in Sydney, Australia. ‘I was young and it was a job. I never really thought I’d ever use that skill again as it was quite pressured, hard work and anyhow, I had dreams of becoming a film-maker. Back then, I was just the Patisserie Girl, the term barista hadn’t been coined yet.’
Desirous of wanting to create a black female character and inspired by the Venus sisters as a role model for children, Julie started writing her first novel. Many years on, the ‘black lives matter’ movement has been much needed to force change. It was the racial inequality instinctively felt by her back then, that she regarded as a close cousin of gender inequality which formed the basis for 5050.
‘I think without attempting to write that book which I’m very proud of, I wouldn’t have thought it possible to change attitudes and behaviours around gender equality. But I do think it’s possible - at least on my website as everyone has to agree to the 5050 Protocol in order to join. We have to start somewhere as females and non-binary people but need the support of males to get there.’ Luckily they’re into it.’ Says Julie.
Film-making was a long held dream that wasn’t possible when I was young, because there were no courses or guides available, but enabled by The Right Honourable Helen Clark who made education for single, older women such as myself accessible, it came to be. She handed me my Diploma (which was pretty amazing for someone of her position to afford the time to do this) and I believe that none of this (5050) would have been possible without her. Because it was only studying film-making which was transitioning from analog to digital at that time and mostly confined to Adobe applications such as Final Cut Pro that forced me to learn about computerisation. Without this experience of computers, I don’t believe I would have ever considered making a website. Before this course, as a stay- at-home-mum, I had no ability to even send an email. Thanks Helen - you made the impossible, possible.
When people who live in rural communities (but have access to Wi-Fi) can feel part of the community by connecting online with people they feel something in common with, be it coming from the same area or having the same interests and are able to meet those people in-person (especially in a group) - then if it helps ease a feeling of isolation then it’s working as intended. Utilising technology in a way that can be useful for people in their every day lives is when you feel that you’ve created something that betters humanity.