New location has attracted more customers to the small bakery specializing in helping hill tribe youth with Swedish pastry.
By: Lars Pinnerup
They cure your illness with pastry at Baan Chivit Mai Bakery. Cinnamon buns, Mazarin tarts, cookies are among the recommended prescriptions to cure your homesickness. Now, it is Swedish pastry, but it most likely also has some effect on other Scandinavians. So if your pharmacist does not have cinnamon buns you know where to find them. Go to Chiang Rai. The bakery is located across from the bus station opposite the side facing the Night bazaar.
It has been more than six months since ScandAsia told you about the little bakery shop in Chiang Rai specializing in Swedish pastry.
Since then Baan Chivit Mai, as the bakery shop is called, has changed location. Moving three houses down the street has proven to be a good decision.
– The new location gives us better exposure and after moving we have experienced an increase in customers. The old place had limited space and we had for a long time been looking for better facilities. We rented the old shop, but this one we own, so in that sense it is also an investment, says manager, Manit Wandee and explains that it is the Baan Chiwit Mai Foundation and not the Baan Chivit Bakery that has bought the building.
Indulging for charity
Baan Chivit Bakery Shop is established under the wings of Baan Chivit Mai, a partly Swedish Charity organization who runs orphanages and helps children in need. With the Baan Chivit Mai bakery they help Hill Tribe youths get a good start in life, by providing them with job training in a bakery and café. At the same time the profits from the Bakery goes back to the Foundation where they can contribute to help others in need. So, the money that customers are spending at the bakery is being used to improve the lives of others.
The staffs working in the bakery and coffea shop are all youths from hill tribe villages in the mountains around Chiang Rai. The bakery serves as a practical education platform teaching them to manage various roles within the business, such as accounting, baking and waiting.
12 years old Noi is one of the youths working at the Baan Chivit Mai. She is a trainee at the bakery and says she wants to use the experience and education she gets there to help start her own business.
– I would like to have my own beauty salon, and I feel that many of the things I learn here will help me achieve that, she says.
She likes working at the bakery and explains that she got the job when some of the staff went to the village in the mountains where she lives and offered her to work in the Bakery.
The staff works eight hours a day and has Sundays off, the where the bakery is closed.
The salary is not high, but the staff takes pride in what they do, and knowing that not only themselves contribute from their work, works as an extra incentive for the boys and girls working there.
– I have really tried to create a feeling of ownership in the youths; I want them to feel as more than just employees at the place. Also they know that the work they do does not only benefit themselves, so they feel the responsibility of working hard because others are dependent on their efforts, explains Manit Wandee And continues;
– We have monthly meetings where we talk about the business and everybody can come with ideas and views on how to possibly do things. As an example the design and looks of the new shop was done with the help of the staff.
The bakery has existed for a little over three years now. And it is not until now that profit has forced the red numbers to retreat from the accounting books.
When charity business is good business
The amount of visitors trying out various blends of coffee or tea while indulging in pastry on the day of our visit seems to support the claims of success. The clientele consists of around 90 percent foreigners, some living in Chiang Rai and others being tourists. Not giving up, and being able to think forward receiving the necessary support from the mother foundation has been vital ingredients in the process of turning the bakery into a success.
– The first three years we lost 25.000 Baht per month on the business. But after changing the location we have after the first six months managed to generate a 200.000 Baht profit. This opens up new possibilities and we now have the energy and enthusiasm to launch new projects tells Manit Wandee
One of the future plans that already have taken its first few virgin steps above the bakery is a computer school. It is time to incorporate the boys from the villages. Most of the staff at the Bakery is girls, and Manit Wandee hopes that he with a graphic design school and company can create something where boys can get a chance to have education provided.
Manit Wandee is a man with many ideas and visions. It is as if he enjoys working under limitations. He has a background as a travelling salesman, but accepted the job as a manager for the bakery after very little time of consideration. He doesn’t want to admit it directly when asked, but one can feel that helping these kids means more than the salary to Manit Wandee.
– I am hoping that this project will be the catalyst igniting many other interesting projects. I have many ideas that I think can be a natural extension of the bakery. Time and money seems to be the only limits we have right now, smiles Manit Wandee.