Over the time he spent there, he had seen a lot of poverty, unemployment and violence, but the most shocking impression made on him was seeing small children eating moldy bread of the worst possible quality as a staple food.
Having fresh in his memory the aroma, taste and the quality of sourdough from SAM, he decided to ask for help.
Małgorzata Kusina-Doran (Masia), co-owner of SAM with several years of experience in production of high-hydration sourdough bread dismissed his crazy and unrealistic idea in a preliminary assessment but soon after decided to take up the challenge anyway.
Hence the birth of the Mkate Bread Foundation which in July 2018 was registered in Poland. The South African branch is currently being created and will hopefully be operational by Sep/Oct 2018.
The opening of the Artisan Bakery in Kliptown will help to provide full time jobs for 6-8 people and part time involvement for another 6-8. Employees directly involved in the production will have an opportunity to be professionally trained as bakers. In addition, the bakery will supply high quality, nutrient rich bread at affordable prices to the local community.
The central location of the bakery will help with distribution and marketing. Newly trained bakers should be able to bake 50-100 sourdough loaves per day (and some additional range of bread-rolls) within the first two months.
The revenue from sales of bread will finance the cost of running bakery (including staff costs and the cost of supplies) and will create a self-sufficient business. Once profitable, the project will use its surplus towards a new bakery project.
The Country Loaf, mixed flour sourdough will make the core of the production. Traditional, high hydration sourdough bread prepared in long slow fermentation process provides plenty of fibre and increases the amount of food available to the gut microbes, so important in building a strong immune system. The acidification of the dough also helps to improve the bio-availability of nutrients in the bread.
Management of the project as well as recruitment of staff will be provided by a local welfare activist – Jerry Tebogo Marobyane. He is well respected in the community and has been involved in many projects in the past, focusing on improvements in the quality of life of people in the immediate area.
▮ Profile of Jerry T. Marobyane
- to create employment for locals
- to teach a new set of professional skills
- to supply the neighbourhood with well priced, high quality, nutrient rich sourdough
- to create a self-sufficient business, which once profitable, can use its surplus towards new bakery projects
- to help people in difficult life situations and who are homeless
- to promote social integration
- to promote healthy eating and healthy living
- to support local communities development
The plan to set up a wholly owned South African subsidiary company that would own and run the bakery was abandoned after 6 months in March 2019. The cooperation of SA authorities in obtaining all necessary permits proved impossible.
That left six wasted months as well as legal costs.
Plan B of setting up a South African Trust with a local African Founder (Jerry Marobyane) proved more successful. Mkate Foundation-SA Trust was registered a few months later and is owned by the Polish Foundation.
In March 2019 Jerry arrived to Warsaw to see how SAM (bakery/restaurant/shop) is operating on the daily basis and to get familiar with the process.
On return to South Africa, he was looking for potential trainee bakers and a location for the bakery. Premises were identified in Kliptown and in May the decision was taken to lease the space and to start actual operations.
Design work for the bakery began in June and consisted of drawings and technical specifications decided in Warsaw with assistance from a whole range of voluntary Polish expertise.
In July during Masia’s visit to Soweto, the bakery design plans were finalized, the building contractors were identified, bakery equipment was ordered and trainee bakers were chosen.
After some delay (due to lengthly a visa approval process), Jerry and the two trainee bakers arrived in late August to spend almost four weeks of intensive training in the Sam bakery in Warsaw. They learned the technology of baking high hydration, long fermentation sourdough and other traditional breads and pastries, as well as the basics of planning and management. This all was achieved, thanks to the fantastic effort, dedication and selfless help from SAM’s team, especially by the head baker who was responsible for training.
The trainee bakers went back to South Africa in mid-September.
The last two weeks of September were used to complete the building works and setting up the bakery with all the necessary equipment.
On 28th September, for the first time in Kliptown (Soweto), the local people could try high hydration, long fermentation sourdough bread and other traditional pastries, not known to them before!
Thanks to modern technology, the young bakers trained in SAM, can stay in touch with mentors from Warsaw, to get technical expertise and feedback and to bake high quality bread.
The South African bakery has now two more members for the team. They are locals, who are now in the process of learning in the new profession.
Unfortunately, due to the electricity crisis in SA (constant power cuts and load shedding), the last months of 2019 were very difficult for the business, almost impossible to keep the minimum production and to cover at least some of the monthly running costs. The technological process of long fermentation bread needs early planning of the production, which is unworkable without knowing when there will be power cuts. This is causing financial losses and a waste of products. On many occasions, the bakers had to throw away the spoiled dough or partially baked bread, while some people in the close neighborhood can’t effort to buy even basic food!
Ahead of us are difficult times and strategic decisions need to be made.
At the current situation, we have to channel all our energy to work on a set of new challenges:
- Adapt the working schedule of the bakers to the working schedule of the electricity company and power cuts.
- Keep the high quality of the bread production and train new bakers.
- Increase the production and sales and substantially increase the client base to be able to cover the monthly cost of staff, the building lease, materials and administration.
- Improve everyday management (production as well as administration and accounting)
From the first half of January (over the 6 weeks period) we will have on site a Polish-Spanish advisory team of two, who have many years of experience in the food sector, helping us to achieve our new goals.
The concept is to start in Kliptown a small bakery, planned as a pilot project that can be reproduced in the other areas of Soweto.
The idea to create a bakery there, not any bakery, but The Artisan Bakery is important on multiple levels.
- It will give an opportunity for selected unskilled workers to train in new profession.
- It will create employment for disadvantaged people through their involvement in production, delivery of supplies and the distribution of the bread.
- It will supply the area with a high quality, nutrient rich sourdough bread.
- It will give a sense of pride and hope that against all odds, in this challenging place with really hard living conditions, they are able to produce and enjoy the best bread in South Africa!
Jerry Tebogo Marobyane
Mkate Bread Foundation
Bank PKO BP
Oddz. 1 w Konstancinie Jeziornie
Ul. Piłsudskiego 3a
23 1020 1169 0000 8202 0277 4933
PL 23 1020 1169 0000 8202 0277 4933