Tomek Wysokiński had been in Soweto for a film and noticed many people ate old mouldy bread, loving his local bakery in Warsaw, he went home with a plan.
Soweto, South Africa – Selling their baked goods at the Johannesburg Neighbourgoods Market, the Mkate Bread Foundation is making a big difference for people in Soweto.
It all started when Tomek Wysokiński visited Soweto for work. He noticed children eating stale old mouldy bread. He knew they were not receiving the nutrients intended, and it worried him. Tomek was also aware of the poverty and unemployment in South Africa.
When he arrived home in Warsaw, he visited his favourite bakery to see if there was a way to better the availability of wholesome and healthy bread in Soweto. The bakery was keen to do something for the Sowetan people.
They launched the Mkate Bread Foundation and started making plans to set up a bakery in Soweto’s Kliptown. They aimed to employ around eight people full-time and around eight part-time. The bakery invited Jerry Tebogo Marobyane to help them run the project in South Africa.
The foundation started the process but found it to be challenging to get all the papers sorted to launch the bakery. They relied quite a bit on Jerry to get things up and running.
Jerry is a hero, when he was only 19, he lost his arm while trying to protect a group of children and a pregnant woman from an explosive device thrown into a dormitory-hostel. This meant that when apartheid ended, he was left destitute, unable to get work with only one arm. Instead of turning to crime, Jerry chose to help and assist the people of Soweto.
He helped set up the Intokoza Youth Against Crime Movement, works with homeless children and searches for lost or kidnapped children. Jerry met Tomek while working as a tourist guide, protection officer and interpreter for the international film crew.
Once the bakery was ready to get started, Jerry was invited to Warsaw, where he was taught how to run a bakery day-to-day. He went back to South Africa with the goal of finding a suitable premises and potential trainees. He got everything set up and sorted so the bakery could launch.
The launch was successful and the bakery because operational. They make wholesome and healthy loaves of sourdough bread which are sold for R7.00. The affordable bread is highly nutritious. They also started selling it at the Neighbourgoods Market in Johannesburg city centre.
Since the bakery was launched, load shedding has caused a few problems. The foundation assessed how best to proceed and came up with solutions to best combat the issue in 2019.
“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 neighbourhood can’t effort to buy even basic food!”
From 2020 the bakery will adapt their schedules to fit around load shedding, preventing waste.
What started as a small idea in Poland, has created jobs and provided affordable alternatives to bread in more impoverished communities. If you would like to find out more, you can check out their website here or support them next time you head to the Neighbourgoods Market.