During a visit to Hanoi recently we had the pleasure of embracing our sweet tooth at Donkey Bakery which was founded in 2009 with the sole aim of providing opportunities for people with disabilities. This is an amazing social enterprise and from the moment we entered the store we were assailed with the smell of freshly made pastries, breads and goodies- we were sold before Mr Hoan could even tell us the story behind the brand!
Mr Hoan, who is severely visually impaired himself, is responsible for buying and sales but thankfully he took the time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about his impressive vision for Donkey Bakery. He explained that not only is the business giving people with physical impairments employment but it also enables them to develop personally and professionally so they can reach their full potential. In fact, 80% of the employees have physical, visual or hearing impairments that would usually leave them on the fringes of Vietnamese society but thanks to Donkey Bakery they are able to develop skills and prove their abilities as oppose to being stigmatised by their disability.
The business has gone from strength to strength and in 2013 the bakery launched a catering service that now provides the lunches for two of big international schools in Hanoi which is an exceptional achievement. Not content with the café and catering business, they launched Donkey Bakery Farm in 2013 in Hoa Binh district, outside Hanoi. Their commitment to success once again paid off, with 90% of the produce used in the bakery and catering arms coming from the sustainably managed and eco-friendly farm.
After all the talk of baking, produce and an enticing kitchen tour became too much for us, so we had to sit down in the café and sample the goods. The sandwiches we were served were definitely the most delicious we’ve had since we arrived in Vietnam. The fact that they were sustainably and ethically produced made them that bit more satisfying.
On our way out, we noticed that the shelves were lined with colourful accessories and toys, it was explained to us that above the café was a studio which produces áo dài, the traditional Vietnamese women’s dress. With an extra fabric, they make cushions, bags, dolls and teddies. These products are all handmade, so naturally we couldn’t leave without buying some of their adorable products. Not only did we leave with full bellies and big smiles, but some handmade teddies and bunny rabbit decorations.
I think we can all agree that was a day well spent!!