Friday, July 14, 2006

The Khayelitsha Cookie Company

Read this article from The Wharton School about a woman who started a cookie business in a poor part of South Africa. An excerpt:

Polak brought an entrepreneur's vision to the product, even down to collaborating with a local artist on the cartoon image of the mamas on the cookie packs. "The faces just popped into my head one day," she says. She also took a business approach, rather than a simple do-good approach, to developing a market for the cookies. While South Africa's population is 44 million, the nation's 4 million whites control most of the buying power. She knew they would not be inclined to buy premium cookies made by poor black women in a township. Developing a plan to sell to them would never pay off.

"I decided I can't change all these perceptions. I'm not going to market to them.
Instead of working into a problem, I said 'Forget it.'" To find a market, she turned to the tourists in the downtown hotels, who receive a Khayelitsha brownie on their pillows at night, as well as local restaurants and coffee houses. The company has sold more than 171,000 packs of cookies, and Polak says she expects it to break even in the next few months. She has taken on some South African investment partners and hopes to make her employees part-owners in the business soon.

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