Baking: a universal language shared between Lesaffre Egypt team and people with deafness or hearing loss

How to support people with deafness or hearing loss into employment and help them unlock their potential? At the Baking Center™, the Lesaffre Egypt teams have shared their expertise with a group of 12 people affected by deafness or hearing loss. On completion of training, the apprentices were better prepared to take up opportunities for employment or undertake their own project. This ambitious collective initiative won the Public Prize at Lesaffre’s CSR awards.
hours of training

In Egypt, as in other countries, deaf and hard-of-hearing people are often vulnerable to social isolation and struggle to get access to education and professional training. They have limited opportunities to develop skills and find work, no matter how capable they are.

Breaking down the barriers for people with disabilities

Employees at Lesaffre Egypt strongly care about being actively involved in their local community, so it was only natural for them to lend their support to this initiative. “Baking is a universal language that is potentially accessible to everyone. Building on this basic idea, we came up with a training programme tailored to support people with deafness or hearing loss. It gives them the chance to develop their skills and pursue a professional career in baking”, explained Walid Nasef, General Manager at Lesaffre Egypt.

Fully supported and financed by Lesaffre, the training programme launched in September 2020 brought together a multidisciplinary team of passionate professionals from human resources, other support departments, and indeed, Baking Center experts.

A tailored and ambitious training initiative

A group of 12 people with deafness or hearing loss—men and women of different ages and levels of education—went through a selection process which included motivational interviewing sessions and a practical test. Over the course of nine months, the apprentice bakers were trained by a team of international experts assisted by a sign-language interpreter. The 21 subjects taught covered the technical aspects of bread-making and the control of quality and safety. IT and soft skills were also part of the programme. In the particular context of the pandemic, the organising team worked very hard to ensure training courses were delivered in a Covid-secure way.

Shaping the future

In the autumn of 2021, an expert judging panel of chefs, famous in both Egypt and the Arab world, validated the skills of the 12 candidates. The deserving apprentices received their diploma at a ceremony attended by their families and are now prepared to enter the working world. The training team continues to support the former apprentices by helping them with their job search.

The training programme goes further than individual achievement: it is another example that people with disabilities can be integrated socially and contribute to society. The former apprentices will eventually become ambassadors and will be able to share their career development experience and know-how with other deaf or hard-of-hearing people. A very motivating social initiative for Lesaffre Egypt employees, who through their actions have contributed to making a difference.

With this programme, our aim is to change society’s perception of disability. We opened our doors to motivated and capable individuals. Together, we are showing that they have a rightful place within the community.
Jose Juan Berruga
Lesaffre Middle East & Central Asia General Management