Australia’s original social enterprise bakery is embracing a fundraising first. F&P’s Fiona Atkinson caught up with the team to find out more.
“Learning how to make sourdough is hard,” says Cindy Carpenter, Chair of the Bread & Butter Project’s board. “I don’t know if you’ve ever tried it but making a sourdough with no holes is very tricky!”
Perhaps you were one of the industrious people who embarked on a baking adventure during lockdown, reaching the pinnacle of sourdough chewiness, but if you weren’t, a perfect opportunity to get started is just around the corner.
On 28 February, a new crowdfunding campaign will encourage you to raise funds for trainee refugee bakers by stepping into their shoes and having a go at bread making.
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 Sydney’s Bourke Street Bakery. Paul was inspired after a teaching experience with a group of refugee women on the Thai-Burmese border. He and his wife, Jessica Grynberg, taught the women how to bake bread and helped them establish a social business to support themselves and an orphanage.
100% of profits from the Bread & Butter Project are invested into training people seeking refuge and asylum in Australia to become bakers.
Trainees undertake a six-to-eight-month traineeship that includes on-the-job bakery training, a TAFE accreditation, English-language tutoring, and job readiness support. The project then helps trainees to secure employment after graduation with like-minded organisations who are passionate about creating a diverse and empowered workplace.
“Graduates have no trouble finding work because there’s a chronic shortage of bakers in Australia,” explains Cindy. “We have a success rate of well over 90% employment, it’s often been 100%.
“Baking is a very sustainable career, and it can lead to starting up your own business. It’s a great foothold into good employment in Australia.”
Another a happy flow-on effect of the program? Friendships. Up to 30 trainees enter the program each year. Group size is kept to 10 trainees, enabling bonds to form between participants, united by multiculturalism (with trainees hailing from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar, Sierra Leone, Syria, Pakistan, Fiji, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, and Sri Lanka), shared tutors and trainers, and an enthusiasm to learn how to bake.
So, that’s the training side. How does the revenue part work?
The Bread & Butter Project have made a success of selling their wares. Starting with wholesale trade to cafés and bakeries, the enterprise has expanded to retail with their artisan breads, sourdoughs and pastries stocked in Woolworths Metro and Harris Farm stores across Sydney.
The project has been going from strength to strength, but COVID-19 has certainly stymied the upward trajectory.
Since June 2021, the organisation has suffered a 40% drop in wholesale café and restaurant sales, seriously impacting the viability of future trainee programs – something that has taken on even greater significance since the onset of the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, with the bakery’s future trainee intakes expected to include more Afghan refugees.
JobKeeper helped with the first round of lockdowns, but the social enterprise was without support in 2021’s second wave of struggles.
“So we hit the decks,” says Cindy, “We hit the Zoom sessions and raised money [from philanthropists and trusts and foundations]. It kept the doors open, but we weren’t able to raise the money we normally would, the money that is usually enough to fund the next round of training”.
One group they approached was loyal supporter, the Westpac Foundation, who provided financial support, but also suggested that the social enterprise try a crowdfunding campaign.
And with that, the need to engage broader, ongoing community support was realised. And the idea for a fundraising initiative that would both raise awareness of the Bread & Butter Project’s work and secure donations was born. Enter Bake for a Baker…
What is Bake for a Baker?
The proposition is simple: experience baking like a refugee trainee, with bread recipes inspired by different cultures from around the world, whilst raising money that will train the next cohort of Bread & Butter Project participants.
The three-week campaign, starting on 28 February, is primarily about raising money, but the team also hope it will help connect people – at home and in the workplace – after two years of lockdowns and self-isolation.
So how did the concept come to be?
Once it was decided a crowdfunding campaign was the way to go, Cindy reached out to brand and marketing strategist and social enterprise mentor, Irma del Mundo, who pulled in the help of fellow marketing specialists – digital, communications and media experts – to work on the campaign.
“I mean, there was an upside to COVID!” says Irma, “People were working from home and had a bit more time to volunteer, so we’re all working on this on a pro bono basis.”
Irma started worked with the Bread & Butter Project three years ago when she developed their branding. When she considered the crowdfunding campaign, she knew that “anything in this space needs to have empathy, so the campaign was built to encourage people to step into the shoes of the refugee trainees.
“We could have run a donation campaign, or we could have sold bread. But what we thought about was what’s been happening in the community. There’s a lot of people stuck at home. We can give them a way to connect. [Because of the pandemic], people are thinking there’s bigger things to life than just work and they want to help”.
Irma explains it comes down to good old-fashioned storytelling and the intimacy that brings – enabling people to experience, albeit momentarily, what the people they are supporting are experiencing, is a compelling way to secure their buy-in.
Initially it was thought the campaign would target corporates. But the team started to question why it couldn’t be open to the broader community. So, as the very best campaigns do, it evolved.
Audience, targets and the mechanism
“It’s the foodies with purpose and foodies with a conscience,” says Irma of the people she believes will be drawn to the campaign.
Elsewhere, Cindy is championing the corporate side. Woolworths, Westpac and Canva have already joined up to the initiative, signing up multiple teams.
The team have a minimum target of 25 teams, and they hope to raise $50,000.
How will they do this? Each member of a five-person team will need to raise a minimum of $50 each. $250 multiplied by 25 does not $50,000 make, but it is anticipated that many team members will far exceed the minimum amount required.
Driving the team on is a generous $50,000 matching donation, which the donor hopes will motivate fundraisers. The potential to double the result to $100,000 would go a long way towards the $250,000 it costs to train a cohort.
Each team member will receive exclusive bread recipes and serving suggestions, inspired by the cultures of refugee trainees working in the bakery. The campaign will be hosted on Raisely, a favourite of Irma’s following her experience with past crowdfunding campaigns.
With the target set, the audience identified and a fundraising platform ready to go, how will the campaign be promoted?
“We’ve been very fortunate to already feature in a few publications,” says Irma, which includes the support of respected food and drink publication, Broadsheet.
The team do not have a promotions budget and will therefore rely heavily on social media. They are establishing a dedicated Facebook page, where fundraisers will post their successes. Sharing of failures (or ‘best rescues’ as Cindy calls them) is also encouraged in the name of fun and good-natured competition. This content will link to the main Bread & Butter Project Facebook page.
Over on Instagram, sharers are asked to use the hashtag #bakeforabaker and tag @thebreadandbutterproject. Corporates are already making used of LinkedIn to spread the word.
Then there’s some fantastic relationships that will serve to both promote the campaign and reward top fundraisers.
The icing on the crowdfunded cake
At the conclusion of the campaign, the top three fundraising teams will be invited to a special online graduation gala, hosted by respected food critic Terry Durack from The Sydney Morning Herald. They will showcase their creations and ‘graduate’, just like one of The Bread & Butter Project’s trainees.
The top fundraising team will also receive an exclusive pastry making masterclass with celebrity chef Peter Gilmore, Executive Chef of the famed Quay and Bennelong restaurants in Sydney, and his highly skilled pastry chef, Rhiann Mead, for their team members and up to five friends or colleagues.
Irma hopes they can release videos of these culinary gurus during the campaign as part of generating engaging content. “I know everyone would love Peter Gilmore to lift up a cloche and reveal a snow egg equivalent!”. (See MasterChef Australia season 10, episode 49 if this does not make sense to you!).
Fortunately, no one will be subjected to MasterChef pressure test conditions in this fundraiser. It’s open to all, and with prizes awarded for funds raised, not bread baked, participants can take part knowing their sourdough will pass with the ood hole or two.
To find out more about the ‘Bake for a Baker’ campaign, or to sign up, please visit bakeforabaker.raisely.com.
Or if you would like to find out more about The Bread & Butter Project and how they are helping refugees in Australia, please visit thebreadandbutterproject.com.