An innovative empowerment intervention is set to change the lives of some of Port Elizabeth’s most impoverished, unemployed and unskilled people, teaching them baking skills and opening the door to self‐employment and an escape from the poverty trap through home industry.

An injection of R283 000 by the South African Muslim Charitable Trust (SAMCT) to the city’s Al Fidaa Foundation, which was established in 2008 to assist the needy in the Eastern Cape, has enabled the organisation to open a baking school as an additional component of its community skills development activities.

The move has been described as an effective low‐cost social enterprise opportunity for the Eastern Cape’s disadvantaged.

Commenting at the official opening of the Baking School, SAMCT Trustee, Mr Gaf Osman, said: “One of South Africa’s most pressing challenges is the eradication of poverty. This is a problem of epic proportions country‐wide and is especially prevalent in the Eastern Cape. So many of our disadvantaged communities remain caught in the poverty cycle simply because they lack skills.”

He said the Al Fidaa Foundation had long recognised the need for feeding schemes, social welfare and, critically, skills development to bring about positive change in Port Elizabeth’s needy communities.

“There can be no doubt that skills transfer is the most productive way in which make a really meaningful and sustainable impact on people, affording them a sense of self‐worth, restoring their dignity and transforming them into contributors to the economy, as income‐earners,” Mr Osman added.

The Al Fidaa Foundation has found the baking industry to be one of the easiest and most effective means to self‐employment for individuals and, especially, women from disadvantaged communities. Learning to bake does not require a formal education, start‐up and overhead costs are low and stock purchases affordable. Importantly, baking provides immediate income and decent profit margins.

Accordingly, the organisation’s new baking school will serve, specifically, the unemployed and unskilled, providing unique free four‐week courses to teach learners to bake items which will create an immediate and sustainable income using equipment as basic as a two‐plate stove.

With high levels of unemployment, some 72% of the Eastern Cape’s population lives below the breadline and Mr Osman maintained that the new baking school was geared to teaching transferable skills, enabling beneficiaries of its courses to teach others, so uplifting both themselves, whilst contributing to the further development of their communities.

He added that the new baking facility would add impetus to the Al Fidaa Foundation’s other skills development initiatives and, through its training and support, prepare participants for their successful introduction to the burgeoning home industry business.

In addition to the new baking operation, the Al Fidaa Foundation offers a range of skills development and education programmes, including sewing and dressmaking, computer literacy, basic business principles and basic accounting practices, as well as the sponsorship of various training courses and the provision of stationery and clothing to schools in the area. It is also actively involved in a number of vital feeding scheme operations and social welfare activities.

Mr Osman applauded the organisation’s baking school initiative as ‘a tool for empowering individuals to quickly gain independence with the least resources, becoming micro‐business entrepreneurs and, potentially, employers of others in their communities.’

“We, of the SAMCT, are well aware of the financial constraints faced by charitable organisations, such as the Al Fidaa Foundation and the ongoing battle they contend with in delivering their good works for the betterment of South African society. We quickly came to realise that we could make a meaningful contribution towards expanding the Al Fidaa Foundation’s laudable community upliftment initiatives in and around Port Elizabeth. We trust our funding towards the Baking School will have a positive impact on those who take advantage of its courses, empowering them to become more financially secure and affording them the transition from poverty to participants in business,” Mr Osman said.

The SAMCT was established in 2008, enabling the provision of funding, services and other resources for numerous deserving organisations, as well as the improvement of the lives of South Africa’s deprived, poverty‐stricken and historically disadvantaged communities. Since inception, the organisation has delivered sizeable financial assistance solutions throughout the country, irrespective of race or religion.

For more information about SAMCT or
its Baking School donation,
please contact:

Rasheeda Motala
Social Responsibility Co‐ordinator
Tel: +27 31 364 9183

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