By Walter Fieuw and Thandeka Tsabalala
An emerging focus area for the SA SDI Alliance is sustainable social enterprises and creating more options to access livelihoods opportunities. Informal areas are characterized by a diversity of income generating activities. In Khayelitsha, Cape Town, FEDUP and ISN have opted to investigate the feasibility of baking breads with an innovative oven and pre-mix design a supplier called Mama Mimis. 10 ovens was pre-finances with the view on recovering the costs as baker groups start making profits on their goods.
Between 7 and 8 October, ten groups from across Khayelitsha gathered at FEDUP member Mama Darkie’s crèche in Makazha. The groups were in high spirits as their assembled the components of the Mama Mimis oven, which is known for its robust design and heat retention. The oven is but a means towards a sustainable business in a group context. The group dynamic of the saving scheme is a particular intervention of FEDUP and ISN, to ensure that the value created stays in a group rather than accruing with one person. This requires fine planning to ensure that everyone receives benefit from the business, but also creates an opportunity to rotate the baking function, and to focus on the value chain of business activities: marketing, producing more products (sandwiches, pizzas, sweet treats, etc)
The groups each had a chance to make bread dough, prime it in the pre-heated oven, and then bake the breads. Various scenarios were presented and the groups had to come up with a solution to the problems. For instance, imagine a busy taxi rank where there are a number of traders. How will the group sell their bread among the competition? One group responded by saying that the key will be to have a consistent product at a good price. Their proposed product was a half-bread with polony and mayonnaise, which they could sell at R12, making almost 100% profit.
The groups have started their bakeries by now. Some groups are fairing better than others, due to careful considering of location, product offering, and consistency. FEDUP and ISN have created exchange programmes to help struggling groups learn from groups performing better. Going forward, this support will be continued until the groups are all realizing the potentials of the business opportunity.