Khayelitsha Cookies in Cape Town whips up an assortment of moreish handmade biscuits for PnP. Jim Hislop dropped by to see what’s cookin’ at their factory.

When I arrive at Khayelitsha Cookies I’m greeted by sales manager Adri Williams, with a cup of coffee and a tray of freshly baked biscuits for ‘market research’ purposes. I pig out on scrumptious choc-chunk wonders, ginger snaps and shortbread safari cookies with rooibos tea-infused dried fruit and my favourite – chocolate brownies.

Khayelitsha Cookies was started to give work to previously unemployed and unskilled single township mums. With no subsidies from Government, they have to be self sufficient. The staff own 30% share in the company that will bring them returns once the profits show.

In the factory, the wonderful chocolatey dough smell makes my stomach grumble for more cookies. The ladies (three of whom are deaf) are positioned at work stations with all the different doughs and ingredients laid out. One thing is clear – this is no mass-producing machine-operated setup. Those biscuits are made by hand with loving care (if the amount of laughter and smiles is anything to go by).

Bakery manager Eunice Nyobole makes sure that the strict hygiene rules are met. She also ensures that everything runs smoothly. She says the best thing about working here is, “That feeling deep down. Here the ladies learn to stand on their own feet, that makes me happy.”

They have the capacity to increase production if the demand arises, that would mean more work for unemployed women. How can the public help? “Buy the biscuits, it’s as simple as that,” Adri says. The more demand there is, the more women they can employ, meaning less hungry tummies. Khayelitsha Cookies are available at selected stores in the Western Cape, with more stores to follow in the future.