Heidi Spurrell | 17th August 2023 | 4min read


The Future Green team with Members at La Cabane

Amidst the busy, tourist-filled streets of Mid-Levels rests a red, wooden wine bistro, La Cabane, where this month’s Members Meetup is held. La Cabane’s immersive wine barrel-like interior design, where rustic walls meet dark wooden panels, displays their pride and joy of natural, organic wine collection. Their decor embodies their unwavering philosophy of working with small-scale, independent winemakers, complementary to this Meetup’s theme of Uphold Fair Labour. 

Upholding fair labour entails a broad range of business practices that are crucial to the achievement of food social and economic sustainability, heavily intertwining with seven of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (Goals 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 10).

Sofia Lisi, Marketing and Events manager from La Cabane, for this month’s Member Spotlight


Our key speaker, Tegan Smyth from Grassroots Future, shares the difficulties that refugees and asylum seekers in Hong Kong face when seeking official refugee status, with a low acceptance rate of <1% and long waiting time. For the 0.5-1% that are accepted, the process of finding a job, as Tegan describes it, can be a “limbo state”. 

Part of Tegan’s work is to facilitate refugees and asylum seekers search for job opportunities, with one of the more recent examples being a chef granted the right to work. She further shared how the father of a family of asylum seekers found a job at a local hotel restaurant after not being able to work for 16 years.  

The F&B and hospitality industry can open up employment opportunities particularly for refugee entrepreneurs, where globally-common refugee-powered culinary programmes leave refugees well-equipped. 

The F&B industry additionally facilitates gastrodiplomacy, drawn from one of Tegan’s favourite quotes by Syrian lawyer and chef, Kamal Naji, agreeing that food can allow refugees to “communicate their stories in their own words”. The end result can yield the breaking of stereotypes and facilitation of social integration. 


Tegan Smyth from Grassroots Future


Clemence Aron from The Mekong Club, our second speaker, covered a different but equally important aspect of Fair Labour – modern slavery. She highlighted that modern slavery in the form of forced labour is prevalent in the Asia Pacific region, especially in the private sector. 

This is where the Mekong Club comes in to work with companies directly to identify any form of modern slavery in their networks and supply chains. Recent national and regional legislations also became more stringent on modern slavery and human rights protection.  

However, migrant workers in supply chains are constantly prone to exploitation, as Clemence explains, where they can be in-debt from high recruitment charges; workplace harassment and poor working conditions; and can suffer from stigmatisation after reintegration into their home country. 

There are around 15 million people in the Asia Pacific region subjected to modern slavery. Addressing this issue is complicated by the difficulty of identifying exploited workers in the informal sector.


Clemence Aron from The Mekong Club


After the presentation, Members enjoyed natural red and white wines kindly provided by La Cabane, showcasing their selection procured from small-scale, independent and family-owned wineries. Testalonga El Bandito, the winemaker couple of the red wine we were served is known for their highly customised and caricatural wine labels. Produced in Swartland, “the cradle of natural wine for South Africa” as Sofia puts it, offers natural wine that is created in dry-farmed, old vineyards with minimal alterations to the winemaking process.

 Red wine Baby Bandito Chin Up provided by La Cabane

Sofia also shared her story of visiting the winemakers of the white wine, Jauma, one of the four pioneers of natural wine in South Australia, produced in Adelaide Hills to demonstrate that natural wine can be more vibrant, raw and nature-appreciating than conventional wine, which are often additionally processed. 

White wine Jauma 1000 Fires 2022 provided by La Cabane

We were impressed by the rich flavours offered by natural wines, Members discussed their amazing quality and affordability. Animated discussions were had on the status of local refugees. A big thanks to La Cabane for hosting our Meetup! 


Wrapping up with lively networking 

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