Social enterprise launches first crowdfunding campaign to train refugee bakers
Australia’s first social enterprise bakery is embarking on a fundraiser for the first time. F&P’s Fiona Atkinson sat down with the team to find out more.
“Learning to make sourdough is difficult,” says Cindy Carpenter, chair of the board of the Bread & Butter Project. “I don’t know if you’ve tried it yet, but making sourdough without holes is very tricky!”
Maybe you were one of the industrious people who embarked on a baking adventure during lockdown, reaching the pinnacle of sourdough mastication, but if you weren’t, a perfect opportunity to start is at our doors.
On February 28, a new crowdfunding campaign will encourage you to raise funds for refugee apprentice bakers by putting yourself in their shoes and learning how to make bread.
Before explaining the ins and outs of the “Pastry for a Baker” campaign, let’s see who the Bread & Butter projects are and what they do.
About the Bread & Butter Project
The Bread & Butter Project – a social enterprise with DGR status – was founded in 2013 by Paul Allam and David McGuinness, owners of Bourke Street Bakery in Sydney. Paul was inspired after a teaching experience with a group of refugee women on the Thailand-Burma border. He and his wife, Jessica Grynberg, taught women how to bake bread and helped them start a social enterprise to support themselves and an orphanage.
100% of profits from the Bread & Butter project are invested in training people seeking refuge and asylum in Australia to become bakers.
Interns undertake a six- to eight-month internship that includes on-the-job baking training, TAFE accreditation, English tutoring and job readiness support. The project then helps interns find employment upon graduation with like-minded organizations passionate about creating a diverse and empowered workplace.
“Graduates have no trouble finding work as there is a chronic shortage of bakers in Australia,” says Cindy. “We have a success rate of well over 90% employment, it has often been 100%.
“Bakery is a very sustainable career, and it can lead to starting your own business. It’s a great starting point for a good job in Australia.
Another happy ripple effect of the program? Friendships. Up to 30 trainees enter the program each year. The size of the group is limited to 10 trainees, which makes it possible to create bonds between the participants, united by multiculturalism (with trainees originating from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar, Sierra Leone, Syria, Pakistan, Fiji, Thailand, Papua New Guinea and Sri Lanka), shared tutors and trainers, and an enthusiasm for learning to cook.
So that’s the training side. How does the income part work?
The Bread & Butter project was successful in selling its products. From wholesale to cafes and bakeries, the business has expanded to retail with its artisan breads, sourdoughs and pastries stocked in Woolworths Metro and Harris Farm stores in Sydney.
The project is getting better and better, but COVID-19 has certainly stalled the upward trajectory.
Since June 2021, the organization has suffered a 40% decline in wholesale cafe and restaurant sales, severely impacting the viability of future training programs – something that has taken on even greater significance since the onset of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, with the future of bakery intern admissions expected to include more Afghan refugees.
JobKeeper helped with the first round of lockdowns, but the social enterprise was without support in the second wave of 2021 struggles.
“So we hit the bridges,” Cindy says, “We hit the Zoom sessions and raised funds [from philanthropists and trusts and foundations]. It kept the doors open, but we weren’t able to raise the money we normally would, money that’s usually enough to fund the next round of training.”
One group they approached was a staunch supporter, the Westpac Foundation, which provided financial support but also suggested the social enterprise attempt a crowdfunding campaign.
And with that, the need to engage broader and ongoing community support was realized. And the idea for a fundraising initiative that would both publicize the work of the Bread & Butter Project and secure donations was born. Enter Bake for a Baker…
What is Bake for a Baker?
The proposal is simple: experience baking like a refugee trainee, with bread recipes inspired by different cultures around the world, while raising funds that will form the next cohort of participants in the Bread & Butter project.
The three-week campaign, which begins February 28, is primarily about fundraising, but the team also hopes it will help connect people – at home and in the workplace – after two years of lockdown and of self-isolation.
So how did the concept come about?
Once it was decided that a crowdfunding campaign was the way to go, Cindy contacted Irma del Mundo, brand and marketing strategist and social enterprise mentor, who brought in other specialists marketing – digital, communications and media experts – to work on the campaign.
“I mean, there was a benefit to COVID!” says Irma, “People were working from home and had a bit more time to volunteer, so we’re all working on that on a pro bono basis.”
Irma started working with the Bread & Butter project three years ago when she developed their brand image. When considering the crowdfunding campaign, she knew that “everything that happens in this space needs to be empathetic, so the campaign was designed to encourage people to put themselves in the shoes of refugee interns.
“We could have organized a donation campaign, or we could have sold bread. But we thought about what was happening in the community. There are a lot of people stuck at home. We can give them a way to connect. [Because of the pandemic]people think there are bigger things in life than just work and they want to help”.
Irma explains that it comes down to good old-fashioned storytelling and the intimacy that comes with it – allowing people to experience, even momentarily, what the people they support are going through is a compelling way to ensure buy-in.
Initially, it was thought that the campaign would target businesses. But the team started wondering why it couldn’t be open to the whole community. So, like the best campaigns do, it evolved.
Audience, targets and mechanism
“It’s the foodies with a purpose and the foodies with a conscience,” Irma says of the people she thinks the campaign will attract.
Elsewhere, Cindy champions the corporate side. Woolworths, Westpac and Canva have already joined the initiative by recruiting several teams.
The team has a minimum goal of 25 teams and hopes to raise $50,000.
How are they going to do this? Each member of a team of five must raise a minimum of $50 each. $250 multiplied by 25 does not equal $50,000, but it is expected that many team members will far exceed the minimum amount required.
Driving the team is a generous matching gift of $50,000, which the donor hopes will motivate fundraisers. The potential to double the result to $100,000 would contribute greatly to the $250,000 it costs to form a cohort.
Each team member will receive exclusive bread recipes and presentation suggestions, inspired by the cultures of refugee trainees working in the bakery. The campaign will be hosted on Raisely, one of Irma’s favorites based on her experience with past crowdfunding campaigns.
With the target defined, the audience identified, and a fundraising platform ready to go, how will the campaign be promoted?
“We’ve been very lucky to be featured in a few publications already,” says Irma, which includes support from respected food and drink publication Broadsheet.
The team has no promotions budget and will therefore rely heavily on social media. They are creating a dedicated Facebook page, where fundraisers will post their successes. Sharing failures (or “best saves” as Cindy calls them) is also encouraged in the name of fun, good-natured competition. This content will link to the main Bread & Butter project Facebook page.
On Instagram, sharers are encouraged to use the hashtag #bakeforabaker and the tag @thebreadandbutterproject. Companies are already using LinkedIn to spread the word.
Then there are fantastic connections that will serve to both promote the campaign and reward top fundraisers.
The icing on the crowdfunding cake
At the end of the campaign, the top three fundraising teams will be invited to a special online graduation gala, hosted by respected food critic Terry Durack of the Sydney Morning Herald. They will present their creations and “graduates”, just like one of the trainees of The Bread & Butter Project.
The top fundraising team will also receive an exclusive pastry masterclass with celebrity chef Peter Gilmore, executive chef of Sydney’s acclaimed Quay and Bennelong restaurants, and his highly skilled pastry chef, Rhiann Mead, for their team members and up. to five friends or colleagues.
Irma hopes they can post videos of these food gurus during the campaign as part of generating engaging content. “I know everyone would love for Peter Gilmore to lift a bell and reveal a snow egg equivalent!”. (See MasterChef Australia season 10, episode 49 if that doesn’t make sense to you!).
Fortunately, no one will be subjected to Chef pressure test conditions in this fundraiser. It’s open to all, and with prizes awarded for funds raised, not bread baked, participants can participate knowing their sourdough will pass with the hole or both holes.
To learn more about the “Bake for a Baker” campaign or to register, please visit bakeforabaker.raisely.com.
Or if you would like to find out more about the Bread & Butter Project and how they help refugees in Australia, please visit thebreadandbutterproject.com.