Blind World Magazine

South Africa.
"Pfukani (Bakery) is a role model for entrepreneurs."

Zoutnet, South Africa.
Sunday, August 06, 2006.

A bakery situated in the deep rural area of Chabane Village, Pfukani Bakery in the jurisdiction of Makhado Municipality, was officially opened during an event held at the bakeshop premises last Friday.

Pfukani Bakery was established by Mr Jackson Baloyi (53), a blind man, on December 8, 2001. The project is manned by people with a similar handicap as Mr Baloyi. Baloyi said that, when they started the project, they were seven, but with no structure and no site. They were operating from the kraal of Mrs Dyna Netshombe, one of the staff members.

According to Baloyi, they were baking 15 loaves a day in their homemade oven, using fire wood. Baloyi said that they made their oven with sand and clay. "It was tough; we were collecting firewood from the nearest mountain with wheelbarrows. We would then make a fire in our 'sand oven' and when it had caught the heat, we would then begin baking bread," he said.

Baloyi said that, after they had finished baking, they would move around the villages selling the bread from wheelbarrows. "Irrespective of the hardships of collecting fire wood in the mountain and the danger of working with fire as visually impaired people, the demand for our bread became huge and that gave us more strength. As a result, we sometimes used to bake 30 to 40 loaves a day," he said.

After receiving a financial injection of about R380 000 from the National Lottery in 2004, they built their modern structure at Chabane. When the new building was completed and electrified towards the end of 2005, they moved in and baking bread with firewood became part of their history.

According to Baloyi, 18 people are now working in the bakery, with the majority with those being visually impaired. "The idea of establishing a project of this nature came after I realised that the majority of our disabled people were relying on government grants for living, while there is a lot of things that they can do to improve their lives. I then realised that people need bread every day and if I could establish a bakery, the level of poverty in our villages would go down as more jobs would be created," he said.

Mirror learnt that Pfukani bakery is not only faced with the challenge of sustaining the project, but they are also faced with the challenge of transport to distribute their bread. "We are still selling bread with our wheelbarrows and we need resources to bake cakes," he said. At present, the rural bakery is baking 360 loaves a day.

Baloyi added that what is making his project unique is the three months training they received from the department of labour. Cllr Thanyani Mudau of the Makhado Municipality promised that, in two weeks' time, the municipality would pave the entire premises at the bakery. "As the municipality we are prepared to support individuals running projects with vision and mission, rather than discourage them," he stated. Representing the Vhembe District Municipality, Cllr FF Rumani promised that she would bring the issue of transport and electricity to the attention of the Executive District Mayor, Cllr Irene Mutsila, adding that project members would receive a formal response in two weeks' time from the office of the mayor.

The chief executive officer of the South African Council for the Blind, Ms Jill Wagner, said that Pfukani Bakery is different from other projects in the country, because its members are always demonstrating the willingness to work and learn. "As the Council, we are exceptionally proud of this project; it is now up to community members to support this project fully, so that it can be sustained. Pfukani is a role model to other entrepreneurs, whether they are blind or not," she said.

This project is the third project to be established by disabled people in the province.

End of article.

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