Before the Maltese Charity started its development work in Monor settlement, it was customary for children as young as 10-12 years old to drop out from school. Since the inception of their work in 2004, not only do students finish primary school, but they regularly continue to secondary school. Even more, the community can celebrate its first university graduate.
Not only does the complex social work of the Maltese Charity focus on children, they also work with the adults who live amongst the 130-140 families in Monor Tabán. Due to the recent economic boom in Central Hungary, men of the settlement have typically found work in the construction industry or in nearby factories. However, women still find it hard to secure jobs on the primary labour market. Either because as they are approaching elder age their health state worsens or because they are responsible for raising children and have to take care of home chores.
To find a solution to this problem, a social enterprise named the Acceptance Bakery was set up in 2018 with the active involvement of the local community. The Bakery currently employs four women on a part and full time basis. They produce delightful sweet and sour pastries based on their family recipes, which are successfully sold on the nearby markets. The start was somewhat rocky as the women were confronted with the prejudices of mainstream society, who did not want to engage with the products. Fortunately, after months of engagement and patience, the ice was broken and they are now well received and accepted.
In order to develop their business model, the organisation participated in the Hatchery programme so the enterprise could become fully self-sufficient. They soon realised that in order to generate enough revenue to cover salaries and other costs, they will need to market their produce to other potential buyers such as food stores, restaurants and event caterers. In order to sell on a bigger scale, they will also have to professionalise their equipment and ensure better quality control. The Foundation’s grant supported the Bakery to buy semi-industrial equipment and to contract a pastry chef who would train its employees.
In parallel, the Bakery successfully fundraised for the enlargement and refurbishment of its workshop, which was re-opened in November 2019. Once the workshop has been inaugurated and the new machines have been installed, the production can be scaled up. This will hopefully enable the Bakery to achieve its ultimate aim, to offer fair wages to its employees who are currently employed under the benefit scheme of the public work system. Unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to this process as sales opportunities decreased due to the closure of shops and cancellation of events. The Foundation has continued to provide professional support to the Bakery during this period mainly focusing on internal development such as improving their financial processes.
Credit of banner and thumbnail images: Márton Neményi, NLC