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Cape Town, the socially responsible city

 

While in Bulgaria the social entrepreneurship is a modern concept and is taking its first steps as the government is shrewdly pushing for it, in Cape Town, South Africa it is tangible everywhere. Many products have mentioned that their revenue will support one cause or another, often you can spot signs of donation places for clothes or books. But more interesting were the meetings with various social entrepreneurs who shared with us the results and challenges of their endeavors.
But as a start, what kind of support can a person get to start a social change through their work? There is an International Development Company (www.idc.co.za) owned by the South African Government as part of the Economic Development Department. Its purpose is to finance various economically sustainable projects in different fields and thus to provide jobs. A separate team is engaged in social entrepreneurship, which is to build co-operation between the public, private and community sectors to increase investment and jobs in South Africa and other African countries. Over the last 5 years, they have approved over 1000 applications for funding worth over € 4 billion, have created over 300,000 jobs, with 32,000 in rural areas. The company is self-sustaining by investing in loans and equity as well as loans from commercial banks and other lenders. Another non-profit company supporting the development of the SE is the SEAcademy (www.socialenterprise.academy/za). They have developed different training programs for people and organizations who want to increase their social impact and become financially independent. Their certificates are internationally recognized. Founded in Scotland in 2004, the Academy has trained 8,000 individuals and 1,700 organizations to develop as social enterprises.
The next places we visited help and invest in the younger generation. LifeChoices (www.lifechoices.co.za) “invests in youth to make choices that change the world.” Behind this “modest” self-description, there are years of trial-and-error to find the truth that “we can only increase social impact by transforming our approach from a non-sustainable non-profit to a business-centered one.” They implement a holistic model to support young people from vulnerable groups, covering education, health, family sustainability, leadership skills and employment. Except through donations, the income to fund these services come from advisory services, paid student tuition, and commercial activity. In addition, they participate with a 20% stake in the companies whose development they support. For the past 14 years, they have positively influenced 200,000 people. Innovation edge (www.innovationedge.org.za/) is another initiative that invests in pre-school education as a first step towards a successful life. Includes children from 0 to 6 years of age living in poverty. Support financially and strategically innovative ideas in education through convertible loans and equity investments. One of the successful ideas so far is EarlyBird Educare @ work- a workplace pre-school center sponsored by employers of parents in need. Another interesting venture, committed to a better future for young people, is the Gangstar café (www.gangstarcafe.com). After the touching story of one of the former gangster employees, we realize that this is a business with a more special mission. All proceeds are used to provide employment and support for ex-offenders and youth who want to leave gangs and crime. They have a joint venture with the 18 Gangster Museum, a one-of-a-kind Gangster Museum in Africa. This innovative museum aims to show young people the treacherous path of gangsterism by seeking to offer a positive alternative. The organized tours are led by ex-gangsters who share their experiences and how their lives have turned around. They are looking for ways to be more self-sustainable.
Our next stop was at the Scalabrini Community Center for Migrant and Refugee Integration (www.scalabrini.org.za). They offer programs to support every aspect of the lives of those in need – from legal advice and finding work through English courses to providing basic goods – medical care, shelter, and a school for children. They organize courses and support specifically targeted at men and separately for women. Some of the services are paid for, the free ones rely on a grant from the US government and the local lottery, as well as from their own initiatives: a guest house (not advertised enough and not working at full speed at the moment), rental of premises, paid services . The Government’s Department of Social Development is funding a home for refugee and migrant children.
As an organization with a special attitude to bread, we were extremely happy to visit the next three businesses. Potential Baker without Borders Zikhona Madubela founded the Street Side bakery in the ghetto-like district of Kayelitsha with the idea of helping people with lactose intolerance through the production of biscuits and other produce lactose free. From the cheerful and enthusiastic story, we would never have guessed that the bakery in question was located in a wooden one-room shack that also serves as a home. But that doesn’t stop Zikhona from being the only one in the area with such an idea and helping young artists pursue their dreams. And her dream is to help her community more through the magic of bread. Our lunch this day was provided by Spinach King (www.spinachking.co.za/), a company also focused on healthy eating – especially with spinach. Through its unique products it aims to make this useful plant more accessible. And the spinach bread sandwiches were really amazing! Another bistro with a social mission is Brownies & Downies (www.browniesdownies.co.za/). In addition to being a coffee and snack bar (with the most delicious brownies!), it also functions as a training center for people with intellectual disabilities. To support the mission and activity, they rely primarily on donations and sales revenue. But they are proving insufficient, especially with rising Cape Town rental prices. Whether orienting towards a more business-centered model, rather than the social one, will help this city spot of acceptance, remains to be seen.
Our extremely intense and diverse tour concludes with another very important aspect of life in Cape Town- art. Spier Arts Academy (www.spierartsacademy.co.za) in association with Spier, one of the oldest wineries in South Africa, offers 3 years of full-time mosaic and ceramics training. The program also includes business skills for graduates to start their own businesses, studios or successfully promote their works. The training is free of charge and all other costs are covered. For this, the selection of trainees is extremely strict (out of 1000 applications, 28 are accepted, of which more are dropped in the course of training). One of each (www.oneofeach.co.za) is a design studio founded by a mother designer and a businesswoman  daughter. They want to spread the beauty and history of Africa through their unique handbags, belts and bracelets that are made of  leather and traditional African fabric. The fabrics are purchased directly from manufacturers in Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Congo, thus supporting them and promoting their craft. They separately train for free and hire young women from vulnerable groups. They export to the US and 17 other countries. Pauline acknowledges that her experience and expertise in the business field helps her, but more important are the personality traits and her desire to help through her work. The Guga S’Thebe Cultural Center hosts a creative workplace – Our Workshop – where young talents can be trained and can create under the experienced guidance of professionals. They recycle materials such as cardboard, plastic bottles and computer parts by incorporating them into their art, thus supporting environmental campaigns.
As you can see, social entrepreneurship in Cape Town is as diverse and dynamic as people living in the city. The extremely professional approach to the endeavors and the great enthusiasm, despite the difficulties, are admirable. But the most important reminder is that social entrepreneurship is first and foremost the natural need to give back to society what you have taken, but with added value.

This visit was possible thanks to Erasmus + project Dive 3:Zero to one>1 to N coordinated by Youth Allience Krushevo and Belle&Co. SA. About the previous study visit on SE in Lyublyana, Slovenia, you can read here.

 

BHN at the International Symposium on Bread in USA

As our mission is to spread the bread-making as a universal tool for social positive change internationally, we always experience tremendous joy when our bakers without borders initiate or take part in such events.
We joined other bread enthusiasts at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA in mid-June as a participant of the third annual ‘On The Rise’ International Symposium on Bread. In coming together with other ‘bread-heads’, we were able to share about our methods and mission, learn more about bread from specialists and enthusiasts, and eat some very delicious bread!
Our Chicago-based crumbassador, Morgan, spent the days of the Symposium sharing information about the many ways that the BHN has used bread-making as a method for fostering social inclusion, community building, and alternative art therapy. She also held a bonus workshop for Symposium participants, which included approximately 35 people engaging, watching, and enjoying our methods of bread for social change! Our workshop started with a Theatre of Crumbs event with the decided theme of ‘diversity’ to lead its conversations, drawing, and shaping! While the bread puppets were baking, Morgan led an overview of the other two sub-games included in our Bakers Without Borders board game – showcasing the social-enterprise model and the potential for using kitchen utensils as musical instruments. The participants learned the ways that our game can assist them in engaging individuals within their communities in creative, powerful, and innovative ways to make a positive impact!
In short, aside from getting ‘breaducated’ on relevant challenges within the bread, flour, and grain industries, we also came together to break bread with a diverse group of individuals committed to the power of bread!

Diverse together in Sofia and Plovdiv

We, at Bread Houses Network, love to gather and unite people from different backgrounds to experience the variety and beauty of life through making bread or other exciting art or culinary events. That’s why we’re very happy when opportunities like the following take place in Bulgaria. We are proud to organize series of culinary events between the months of April and August 2019 as part of the project Diverse together- sharing of bread and stories, Plovdiv 2019- European capital of culture. More about the idea of the project you can read in our Projects section. The events are 9 spread around the cities of Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna as we just closed the project in the first two.

Our culinary journey started in Lebanon with a non-traditional recipe for an Easter cake and some special Lebanese sweets. Dates, honey, spices- all that subtle exotica of the Middle-eastern country brought to us thanks to the chef Hani Tauk who also specializes in french pastry and owns one of the best bakeries in Sofia. Next, to balance and broaden our taste receptors we opted for American raspberry pies which made us feel the joy of life more! Thanks to Casey Angelova, who is a culinary blogger and a farmer of pure organic products among the picturesque gardens of Kyustendil, we enveloped the juicy raspberries in a gentle crispy butter dough to have this magic melt in our mouths. Bulgaria being on the crossroad between the west and east, has a bit of oriental influence in its cuisine. But it’s nothing like the original so we decided to end our Sofia events with another Middle eastern fair of flavors and invited our guests to Lebanese (yes, we love that country and cuisine!) appetizers and a special tea. Salha and Rim were so kind and smiling all the way through the process of showing us how to prepare the most famous Arabic salads- humus, baba ganush and tabule. And the pistachio baklava for desert…A fantastic end of a colorful Diverse together culinary sessions!

 

 

 

 

Plovdiv wasn’t a less of experience: we flew in our imaginations and through our taste buds to India, England and Italy. Culinary workshops were never that exciting, especially when you start around the Inian oven tandoor and bake amazingly fresh and tasty naans filled with equally mouth-watering Indian dishes. The chef Pramod Singh kindly guided us through his exotic culinary world and we expressed our gratitude and excitement through the Theater of crumbs. Our exploration continued in Anglia school whose director Keith Kelly from England demonstrated a fast but exciting recipe for a Sunday morning breakfast (or any other part of the day)- Yorkshire pie. With only lemon juice and sugar or strawberries and cream, even with a salmon and cream cheese- we couldn’t get enough! The grand finale of the Plovdiv culinary series happened in the chocolate factory Gaillot where the French pasta expert Florian Dulliard taught us how to prepare a fresh pasta ourselves. Quite easy, it turned out! And delicious with freshly made marinara and pesto sauces! You can guess the desert- bits of bio chocolate but you’ll become too jealous so I’ll stop here.

 

More to come as we leave for Varna next month!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make America inclusive again through bread-making!

Our active and enthusiastic Baker without borders Morgan Murphy just came back from an exciting event related to successful practices in social inclusion. Here’s what she shares:

“We journeyed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for three days earlier this month for the Welcoming Interactive + Welcoming Economies Convening conference. The event brought together over 400 leaders who are committed to making America more welcoming and more inclusive. We shared our board game and information about the Bread Houses Network and our methods with diverse experts and participants. It was so energizing to be around like-minded individuals who recognize the importance of collaboration, innovative solutions, and empathy building in order to foster inclusion.

Those attending the event shared their successful practices and inspiring stories of welcoming communities – we were excited to learn about their work and to share the many ways that bread-making can be used to bring diverse people together to promote community cohesion, creativity development, and addressing local issues!”

We’re looking forward to more exciting bread-making and sharing events in the USA!

Dive into Slovenian social entrepreneurship

Between 13 and 18 May the Slovenian organization N.K.L. hosted a forum on social entrepreneurship in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The initiative is part of the DIVE 3: Zero to One> 1 to N project, where the Bread Houses Network is a partner.Visits were organized in various socially oriented businesses, as the tour started at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology. We were surprised to find out that there is a separate Directorate for Entrepreneurship and Technology. It aims to support the international competitiveness of Slovenian enterprises by developing policies and promoting entrepreneurship and innovation. There are about 260 companies registered as social enterprises in Slovenia, most benefiting from the Ministry’s financial assistance and membership programs. It supports startups, SE, educational laboratories and access to employment through tax refunds, public auctions, and more. Also, the ministry has helped to provide a space free of rent, left from a bankrupted store, to one of these companies- Preoblikovanje, which produces wood-based furniture for zero carbon footprint. They employ 8 people, 5 of them from vulnerable groups.

Some organizations, however, do not feel that support. Judo Club Sokol teaches about 60 disabled people by offering them special classes. Funding is a problem, as more Paralympic disciplines have been subsidized than the special Olympics. They receive approximately EUR 1,000 a year of funding from the ministry.

The following visits filled us with enthusiasm and optimism. Two of the companies recycle used items and clothes and sell them. Smet-Umet makes bags, toys, and other items as they like to focus on the amount of rubbish that is produced and how it can be transformed into useful and beautiful things. Drustvo verjamem vate sells donated clothes and second-hand toys, and recycles them to make new clothes, which they also sell. They have employed 7 people, some of them with special needs. They also have a day center with a café where people with special needs can create and learn basic skills. Stara roba -Nova roba is also a second-hand shop that sells various donated goods in good condition. They hire former drug addicts and / or homeless, helping them with social inclusion. They have started with an EU grant but are now 100% self-sustainable as they can pay salaries and rent.

School and university students are the focus of next businesses. Makerlab is part of the University of Ljubljana and is a place where students can develop their own projects with expensive equipment such as 3D printers. They have social entrepreneurship in the form of FabLabs, which has them throughout Slovenia, so that young people in remote areas can also access technological training. They are funded by the university and through small membership fees. Zavod 404 is the first youth center in Slovenia for technology and research. It aims to provide young people with the opportunity to acquire technical skills and interest in entrepreneurship and research. They organize frequent workshops for students and their teachers in the field of electrical engineering, woodwork and others.

As you can see, Slovenia’s social entrepreneurship environment is favorable, and regardless of whether they have the support of state institutions or not, people’s striving to contribute to the environment and to support people in need is a sufficient impetus for creating a meaningful business model.

All Different, All Equal

Youth unemployment has been a serious issue in Europe for some time as the trend since 2015 (20,3% unemployed youth according to Eurostat) is to decrease it (in 2017- 16,8% unemployed). Not that positive situation is observed in Turkey: in 2015 youth unemployment rate was 18,6% whereas in 2017 was 20,7%. This increase has posed a threat to the self-esteem of the young people as well as to the country economy as a whole. Tackling problems of such a scale often requires innovative and out- of –the –box approaches.

Bread Houses Network has the honor and pleasure to be part of such creative project as the Erasmus+ “Theatre Pitching for Employment”, which was organized by Akdeniz University between the dates of 6-10 May 2019 and focused on youth unemployment problem in Antalya/Turkey. The workshop called “All Different, All Equal” tried to use theatre techniques to empower young people and help them present their ideas in a more effective way. Led by the talented actors from the private theatre Kirmizi Kalem Sanat, we could experience various Image theater methods, developed by Augusto Boal as a social change tool, also known as the Theater of the Oppressed. The project aimed not only at developing a stronger self-image and social awareness but also at the ability to present the idea for 30 seconds called pitching. You can watch the final forum here.

The project “Theatre Pitching for Employment” is coordinated by the Trešnjevka Cultural Centre in Croatia and implemented together with five partners from Poland, Greece, Slovenia, Turkey and Bulgaria. It’s aiming at improving the access to employment of people from unprivileged group (e.g. people with disabilities, unemployed, stigmatized people, and ethnic and/or religion minorities). Each partner country will hold a workshop based on educational theater techniques and pitching. The first workshop took place in Krakow, Poland where the Polish organization Multicultura introduced the partners to a method of collective poems writing – a unique instrument which can be used for empowering marginalized groups and expressing their social messages. You can watch the poem here.

The next workshop will be in Maribor, Slovenia between 8 and 14 September 2019.

 

BHN dives deeper into social enterpreneurship

Between 28.03 and 03.04.2019. the second stage of the Erasmus + DIVE 3: Zero to One> 1 to N project took place in Florina, Greece. The main focus of the meeting was to build partnerships between the participating organizations and generate potential project ideas in the field of social entrepreneurship and the fight against youth unemployment. More about the project here.

Following an intensive introduction to the Erasmus + project structure, partner organizations were inspired and united around various ideas on how to support the development of unemployed youths in their respective countries. The Bread Houses Network, as a good example of social engagement and entrepreneurship, initiated a project on how to link organic farmers and migrants in the partner countries of Italy, Greece, Poland, South Africa and Bulgaria through the organization’s methods . This will solve the problems of various farmers’ organizations, such as lack of labor, and migrants will have the opportunity for vocational training and employment in a fast-growing sector.

Another exciting project where the Bread Houses Network will take part together with Italy and Greece is to give a contemporary look to the disappearing traditional crafts – how to make them more attractive to young people so they want to learn and develop their own business.

There will be more interesting meetings and events to come as we “sift” and “knead” these opportunities for a better chance for the young people.

The biggest American university on the Balkans hosts a bread making event

The founder of the Bread Houses Network Nadezhda Savova – Grigorova inspired a big community event in the American University in Bulgaria, based in the city of Blagoevgrad  – a bread making which brought together more than 40 students and faculty, local social organizations and public officials. Following the steps of the “Theatre of Crumbs” method, they shared their vision about a more dynamic and united Blagoevgrad. Since the beginning of this academic year Nadezhda is an Anthropology professor at AUBG.

Theatre Pitching in Krakow

Is 30 seconds enough to present a project idea? Yes! You just have to step on the scene, pick the right words, master a confident position and look your interlocutor in the eyes.

This is what the Bread Houses Network team learned in Krakow as part of the first training in the Erasmus+ project The Pitch: Theatre of Ideas. The project is coordinated by the Trešnjevka Cultural Centre in Croatia and implemented together with six partners from Poland, Greece, Slovenia and Bulgaria. It’s aiming at improving the access to employment of people from unprivileged group (e.g. people with disabilities, unemployed, stigmatized people, and ethnic and/or religion minorities). The partners will achieve this by exchanging knowledge and connecting a method for short presentations – pitching – with educational theatre methods.

In Krakow the Polish organization Multicultura introduced the partners to a method of collective poems writing – a unique instrument which can be used for empowering marginalized groups and expressing their social messages. Check out the performance of the great song that the participants created during the collective writing workshop:

30 seconds

Although there’s a lot at stake,

when you know there’s no mistake

pitching is a piece of cake!

The next meeting will be hosted by Akdeniz University in Antalya, Turkey between 5 and 11 May.

 

Baker without Borders prepares a community meal in a homeless encampment in Minnesota

Adam Majewski, a baker and a community activist from Minneapolis, USA  is an active Baker without Borders member since 2017. He believes that “Those who are most in need of things like help with food and basic necessities, deserve the best and finest just as much as all other human beings on this planet we call home.” This is why in October last year, Adam organized and delivered a community meal in a homeless encampment in the Twin Cities. In his passionate story about the event, Adam shares his thoughts on individual and community responsibility towards those who are left behind.

We publish the original story of Adam. Find out more about his inspiring initiatives and ideas at https://themajesticchef.wordpress.com

Crumbassador: A Wall Of Our Forgotten Brothers and Sister, and Bakers Without Boarders-TC: Doing Our Best To Help!

By Adam Majewski

Minneapolis, Minnesota, as a member of the Bakers Without Boarders Crumbassador team, and a career Chef, food is and for the most part, has been a big part of my life for a long time, I find it to be an important part of everyone’s daily life. I’m not a big fan of bringing up the topic of politics in my work, in order to separate my professional life, from my own personal opinion. I how ever have found that in some cases politics have to be spoken about on a level which coincides with some specific topics. In the era of trump, politics have finally here in Minneapolis and St. Paul made poverty and Homelessness more and more visible which is always a sad reminder that poverty and homelessness even still exists in this country, but I feel that it is much-needed in order to hopefully wake people up to the fact, we as a society have allowed our problems as a community of supposed like-minded individuals to go on for way to long, and has created a society which benefits the few at the expense of the many. People in this day and age are so wrapped up in their own life’s problems that we forget, in order for society, no matter how big or small to function, that we are all in this journey called life together and that we need to continually help raise up our fellow humans to the same level of our own achievements, or everything else crumbles at our feet.

With that said, here in Minnesota at least, from my experience there have been a lot of people who have been left behind and forgotten about. The largest group of which have been Native Americans who have suffered the most from not being treated the same or even as equals with respect and dignity. Over this past summer, an encampment of homeless, both individuals and families, has sprung up, along the the Hiawatha and Cedar ave corridor of the East Phillips neighborhood. The growing emergency to provide access of basic necessities to these deserving individuals ranging from food, clothing, and clean water and housing for those most in need, children, the elderly and those most valnurable by no fault of their own who all are living here.

Now this past friday October 26, 2018, I organized and delivered my first community meal delivery as a Crumbassador for the Bakers Without Boarders Initiative here in the Twin Cities, to the Homeless Encampment where Cedar and Hiawatha meet. In the past I’ve spoken a lot about people coming together as a community to support those most in need, and have finally started my own path to being more community oriented and active with supporting those most in need of support. As I was prepping food, I became very anxietious with wanting to do a good job and provide them with the best meal i can which to be honest I felt it really was not my own best work and could have not better, mainly due to the rice being cooked through was a bit over cooked on the top layer do to poor container choice for cooking.

How ever the chicken was perfect, but after getting to the site, setting up and starting to serve, my mind went blank, after which I had the biggest realization of my life, a sense of, This Is What I’m Suppose To Be Doing. How ever next time and everytime after that I need to keep improving and serving better and better food. Why? Because those who are most in need of things like help with food and basic necessities, deserve the best and finest just as much as all other human beings on this planet we call home. In fact they probably disserve it more, and I am one of the many bakers, food professionals, fellow human beings who care to take responsibility in providing our services, our leadership skills, as well our skills in our respective careers, at no charge or cost of any kind to them. People out there will ask why? They will not understand! And the only answer I can give is, because, there is no reason at all not to.

We as a group, have lived in a society for to long, which allows us to, think, act, and continue our lives as if we individually don’t need to do anything, because the person sitting right next to us will do it. The problem in this thinking is that no one is putting in to the equation that the person sitting next to every other person is thinking the same exact thing about themselves not needing to help, while also thinking that you will do it. This needs to change, no doubt about it, and until we all take responsibility for not just ourselves but one another, which does include myself doing the same, there will always be poverty and hunger.

what I would have to say, I took most out of my first experience making a full effort to be a positive part of society, is that I need to be more involved helping others, as well it is what makes me the most happy, to make sure others are receiving a good home cooked meal from the heart.

What I hope is next as a Bakers Without Boarders Crumbassador here in the TC, is continue working with those at the Hiawatha Encampment providing meals and food when we are able to raise enough money to do so, through donations, community focused events and community focused sports to bring EVERYONE together from the poor and homeless all the way up the social ladder, no matter what it takes to create positive change both in our local community and hopefully around the world.