TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A global drinks producer in Taiwan is providing NT$1 million (US$36,000) to a restaurant hit hard by the pandemic out of its NT$10 million fund for inspiring individuals.
The call for applications got underway on Tuesday (Oct. 26) and ends at noon on Dec. 10.
Although indoor dining restrictions were lifted in August, some food service operators in Taiwan have not made it. Those who survived are often struggling with inflation and COVID-19 related costs, in addition to complying with stringent hygiene measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
A nationwide Level 3 epidemic alert was imposed on May 28. As a result, food service providers saw an average reduction in income of 74% compared to the previous month. In addition, the occupancy rate for hotels nosedived to less than 10% percent in June, according to a survey from iCHEF.
Over the past year, there has been negative employment growth nationally for the first time. This has coincided with the closure of several long-standing restaurants.
Even so, alcohol beverage producer Diageo Taiwan is continuing with its corporate social responsibility initiative that helps nine social entrepreneurs or individuals to make their dreams become a reality. Keep Walking Fund winners are expected to create a positive impact on society, be inspiring, inclusive, and sustainable, and empower people in various ways.
To lift spirits in troubling times, a fixed prize of NT$1 million will go to an on-premises partner whose proposal for revival stands out. The final round of selection is scheduled for mid-March 2022.
"The initiative has entered its 18th year to address the Keep Walking spirit, and this year we introduced for the first time a plan to help our partners make a strong comeback from the pandemic," said Atul Chhaparwal, managing director of Diageo Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.
Two of this year's Keeping Walking Fund recipients made an appearance in Thursday's (Oct. 28) opening event, including entrepreneur Lee Jung-chune (李榮春) and the visually-impaired business consultant Lin Chia-chien (林佳箴). Lee was acknowledged for taking over the family's ailing hog farming business, giving his family pride and creating jobs in his hometown.
Lin has overcome her vision disability, becoming the country's first City & Guilds-certified coffee brewer who is visually impaired, thereby empowering others with disabilities to become baristas too. Both of the winners beat adversity to become what they are today.
Another individual invited to share his inspirational story was Angus Zou (鄒斯傑), founder of Draft Land, which was named among Asia's 50 best bars in 2020. He talked about the crisis facing bars during the semi-lockdown and how the team adapted by rolling out a new business model, selling DIY cocktail kits and making a quick comeback when restrictions were gradually lifted.
Barbara Liang (梁斯怡), corporate relations director for Diageo Taiwan, said the food business is a source of national pride because it is home to many internationally renowned restaurant and beverage brands. "Assistance to pandemic-battered businesses should be quickly put in place to help them get back on their feet."
Diageo operates in more than 180 countries, offering over 150 alcoholic products, including some of the world's best-known brands such as Johnnie Walker and Baileys. In June of last year, Diageo Taiwan pledged NT$18 million to aid local bars and restaurants.