There was a buzz in the Khayelitsha Cookies bakery last week when teams from the various BidAir lounges and head office got their hands ‘doughy’ as they joined the bakery team in creating the renown delicious cookies. The nine BidAir Bakers donned the appropriate hair nets and aprons, and discovered what it is like to make the cookies from rolling the dough to taking them out of the ovens. The laughter of the new team, combined with the amazing regular team of women from Khayelitsha, reverberated off the walls as they worked.

BidAir is an ongoing supporter of Khayelitsha Cookies and recently donated R145 000 towards the expansion and growing success of the business as part of their enterprise development spend. Not content with a simple transaction of money, it was arranged that the team come and see the bakery, meet the women who make the cookies and get a feel for how the cookies are made. So they formed a production line – from CEO and Lounge Management to Procurement Manager and Finance – and loved it! “It’s fantastic what they are doing here. Wow! A beautiful story. I will certainly go back and tell people about it,” said Jeanette Petzer of Cape Town Domestic Airport Lounge. Other comments were that the atmosphere was amazing, the experience humbling and inspiration levels were high.

Khayelitha Cookies has grown significantly during the last few years and currently employs 42 women from Khayelitsha, one of South Africa’s largest townships. It started as a project, which was floundering at a women’s centre in Khayelitsha before it was set up as a business by two young entrepreneurs in 2004. Tim Leher and Tom Fehrsen bought the company and set up a trust so that when the company profits, those who work there would be the first to benefit. Today thousands of top quality biscuits and rusks are baked in their factory every day – and can be found in many places, including the BidAir lounges at our local and international airports. Hence the ongoing relationship that has gone way beyond supplying cookies for their guests.

 The generosity of BidAir has been astounding, and we really appreciate what the team has contributed towards equipment to improve our productivity,” says Leher, “But what deeply impresses us is the Lounge Managers coming from across the country to spend time baking, finding out more about the company, meeting the ladies, and investing personally in our relationship. Thank you Charles and the Bid Air Team!”

By the time the BidAir Bakers had been shown around the two bakeries and been part of an ‘official’ handover of the donation, the cookies they had baked were out the oven, individually wrapped and ready to be taken home. One BidAir Baker said, “This was very inspiring and loads of fun. If I ever need work, I know I do a good job on those cookie balls!”