Warm bread, jobs for Gompo as 15-year dream comes true

A bakery project that has taken 14 years to rise, opened in Gompo township on Monday.
The R1.5m Masikhanyisane Bakery Co-operative is a joint venture between seven entrepreneurs, with funding assistance from BCM and the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC).
Masikhanyisane chairperson Mangaliso Mpongwane, 44, said the idea to start the bakery came about after they realised how difficult it was for poor people in the area to purchase the simplest food items.
“We started the project as young people back in 2004.
“There were 13 of us back then, but because we could not get funding, some members found other jobs.
“Our vision was to have our own bakery to fight poverty in our community and have people that we can train, and sell bread that will be affordable to the community.”
However, their equipment gathered dust for six years as they could not afford the electricity infrastructure required to operate the business.
“The ECDC funded us with machines and we were only short of electricity for this place.”
The bakery will produce 60 loaves of bread a day.
BCM spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said the municipality injected R1m into the bakery.
“They got funding from ECDC and the municipality renovated the building, which was donated in 2012.”
He said the co-op members would be trained in business and financial management skills.
ECDC’s Imvaba Co-operatives Fund acting fund manager Simphiwe Ntshweni said they had donated R551,000 to the project after Masikhanyisane had approached the ECDC in 2011.
However, the project was brought to a halt because the initial funding had not accommodated the electricity costs.
Co-op member Ntombikayise Rasimeni, 45, was enthusiastically kneading dough when the Dispatch visited the bakery yesterday.
“Jobs are scarce and it is up to us to be committed in these co-ops so that we do not blame the government for not providing us with jobs when we have been given an opportunity to start our own thing,” she said...

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