Sanjay, Bapi and Raju are hearing impaired. Ashok and Pinku suffer from cerebral palsy. But the five surmounted their disabilities and came together for a common love: baking.
Their bakery, Shuktara Cakes, makes typical French delights such as Madeleine (sponge cakes) and financiers (cakes with almond powder and shaped liked ingots). French restaurateur Alain Cojean, who runs 24 restaurants in Paris, helped them take the initial steps by providing the baking moulds, work table and the Eurofours oven.
Now, the two-and-a-half-year-old bakery, which does home deliveries only, is looking to scale up, ensure a greater retail presence and make profits.
“We need to ramp up and are looking for partnerships (to ensure regular supplies) so that we can start making profits,” says Pappu Mishra, Chairman of Shuktara, the NGO that runs the bakery.The journey
Shuktara, a Kolkata-based NGO (catering to children and youth with disabilities) started in 1999 after David Earp, a UK-based citizen, was moved by the plight of orphaned street children with disabilities. He roped in local lad Mishra and opened the home, which now has 23 boarders.
In the course of time, Earp met Cojean. The restaurateur mooted the idea of teaching the disabled boys how to bake and make them self-sustainable.
The intricacies of French patisserie were taught by Fabien Roulillard, former head pastry chef at Fauchon, a Paris-based gourmet food company.
And, in March 2013, Shuktara Cakes began its journey.Ramping up
The bakery gets 12-15 orders a month — mostly over the phone or via email — and the average monthly income is around ₹30,000. But this isn’t enough to break even. Sales have to go up.
Interestingly, the first steps towards this goal have begun. Laura Chantebel, a business consultant from France, has come on board for a year to boost the prospects of the patisserie unit.
The Consulate General of France in Kolkata, too, has come forward to help the bakery. The bakery’s products were showcased in some of the events it organised recently.
“We will do whatever we can to promote Shuktara Cakes and also support them through our various communication channels, including on social media,” Damien Syed, Consul General told BusinessLine .
This apart, Shuktara has also tied up with a city-based café, Sienna, to feature its baked products on its menu. Talks are also on with city schools and a leading multiplex chain.
The ultimate dream is make Shuktara Cakes a self-sustaining organisation, and the five boys role models for others.
Shuktara Cakes Chairman Mishra knows there’s a long way to go and that the baking journey has just begun.