This morning we started training at the Betteh Bakery at 9am. We were welcomed by the trainees with a song (IMG_3235)! They reviewed the first two days of their training where they learned proper hygiene and how to use the machines in the bakery.
The bakery is run by the Wesleyan Church, with Katis Bangura as the Project Manager. Katis and Councilor Ismail Mugun Bangura stressed that they want to empower women at the bakery while also providing quality bread to the people of Makeni. Catherine, the Betteh Bakery manager, also said that while she knows Sierra Leone has been behind other countries in terms of women empowerment, she’s excited to make a change as a leader of the project.
(Seanna Corr with Catherine Kouroma, Bakery Manager)
The machine the trainees learned to operate is used to compress and mix the bread dough before putting it in the oven. A mechanic in Sierra Leone constructed the machine with a diesel engine operated by a crank and parts from an old Mercedes Benz car. The engine and crack turned a fan belt which turned the large rolling pin on the dough machine. We used a flour and water mixture to practice using the machine and learn different bread shapes.
(Photo of a bakery trainee after getting the diesel engine to run after 3 attempts!)
(Mixture of flour and water that were used to practice using the dough machine and kneading the dough into shapes for the oven)
(Neena Shah and Karli Manko learning the proper ways to prep the dough for the oven)
The trainees learned four different bread recipes that they plan to cook in the bakery. The first two were taught by Alexzandra (Alex) Pee. Alex is from Freetown, Sierra Leone and has over 25 years of baking experience.
The first recipe he gave was for Tappler (pronounced “Tapalapa”), a popular bread in Makeni. The bread is not preserved well, but would be sold in small quantities each day. The recipe calls for:
- 1 bag of flour
- 1 tablet/baromate per bag of flour (for fermentation- crushed and dissolved in water)
The second recipe was for Butter Bread, which is more expensive, but the bakery managers believe it will be profitable. In Freetown, this bread would be sold for 5,000 Le, which is around 0.50 USD. Most breads, including Tappler, are sold for 1,000-2,000 Le in Makeni. The bakery managers want to sell Butter Bread in smaller sizes so more people can afford it. Betteh Bakery will be the first bakery in all of Makeni to bake this type of bread. The recipe includes:
- 1 bag of flour
- salt (less than the first recipe)
- 1 tablet per bag of flour
The last two recipes were presented by Thuimu Bangura, a younger bakery trainee with more baking experience than the rest.
The third recipe was for Ghana Bread, which calls for:
- 1 bag of flour
- flavoring (banana, pineapple, coconut)
Unlike the other bread recipes, Ghana bread is cooked in a small bread pan. The others are baked on something similar to a cookie sheet.
The last recipe Thuimu presented was for Sugar Bread. The recipe includes:
Each recipe is fairly different, but the Betteh Bakery is excited to try each of them. Tomorrow (August 8), we will spend the day baking and perfecting each recipe with the trainees. The bakery will become fully operational on Monday, August 12, and will only sell Tappler for the first month or so. They plan to sell one piece of bread for 1,000-2,000 Le and to start small but expand later.
Throughout the day, we were introduced to Pastors and Reverends at the Wesleyan Church, and everyone was extremely welcoming and happy to have us. At the end of the day, Alex, Ismail, and Katis encouraged us to share what we learned and loved hearing that the marketing strategies for our products aligned with theirs.
Today was our rainiest day yet, but we were able to get lots of things accomplished. Our team is excited to return to the bakery tomorrow to try out the recipes! Some of us will also have the opportunity to visit a few health clinics to build connections with mothers and children that can taste our products next week.
(Pastries given to the team as a welcoming gift from Catherine Bangura)
(Matt Feryo, Seanna Corr, and Rachel Caffrey took a short, but rainy, trip to dinner in the back of a pick-up truck!)