As the eye study went on, numerous blind people were found who could not afford treatment so the couple decided to cover the costs, however six months in, their funds ran out. They came back to the UK for a short visit and organised a 10km blindfolded run, raising over £10k, sufficient to provide treatment for the rest of the study period.
Andrew and Madeleine were looking at options to develop a sustainable way of subsidising eye care for low-income Kenyans that would continue beyond their stay. With so many people complementing Madeleine on her baking skills and repeated suggestions that she should open a bakery, the couple decided they would…
This is no ordinary bakery – a social enterprise bakehouse partnered with the Ujima Foundation, a charitable organisation that provides young adult orphans who are responsible for younger siblings with self-esteem building and hospitality training and support them to go on in to long-term employment. The bakehouse is based at the serene Maili Saba Camp (an income generating tented lodge for the Foundation) which overlooks the Menegai crater.
The Ujima Bakehouse produces healthy alternatives to existing highly processed baked products in the region. The Maili Saba Wild sourdough is bread as it is meant to be – wheat, water, a touch of salt and natural yeasts. No added sugar, oils, fats, flavourings or preservatives. The natural yeast starter comes from the partner bakery, the E5 Bakehouse in Hackney, London, where founder, Ben Mackinnon, who first met Madeleine on an E5 sourdough bread course has now been out to Kenya twice to train the bakery team and is due out again with more of the E5 team as part of their commitment to partnering with and supporting the social enterprise.
All the proceeds from the bakery go towards subsidising eye care at the local eye hospital, St Mary’s Mission Hospital in Elementaita and providing opportunities for vulnerable adults through the Ujima Foundation. For every 100 loaves of Maili Saba Wild sold, one person receives sight-restoring treatment and one young adult is given a place on the training course.
Currently the Bakehouse is targeting Kenyans and ex-pats with disposable income buy marketing to international schools, hotels, lodges and local supermarkets. In an attempt to reduce diseases such as diabetes and the risk of consequent sight-loss, once the bakery is proven to be sustainable, a product range will be developed for low-income Kenyans that can be sold by street vendors. They will develop a range of baked healthy alternative to the readily available, deep fried, sugary snacks that are typically enjoyed by the masses.
The Ujima Bakehouse has been supported by the Cholsey Community Big Project (a year of fundraising by the people of Cholsey – Madeleine and Andrew’s home village in Oxfordshire) as well as an award from a partnership between TED.com and Mazda. A series of four-minute films is hosted on the Mazda Rebels hub detailing the story.
Is this the best thing since sliced bread? Actually, it is healthier bread that benefits everyone.