Remember way back to 2009 when Virtuous Bread was launched as a social enterprise that makes it fun and easy to make and find and learn about good bread and in so doing to forge the link between bread and virtue? Our objective remains the same today as it was then: to effect positive social change through bread. By baking and selling excellent bread, teaching others to bake bread, writing books and articles, and speaking on the topic we aim to entertain and educate - passing on vital knowledge and skills that help people make better choices about the bread they are consuming - whether or not they choose to bake it or buy it.
In 2010 we taught the first microbakery course. A course to create Bread Angels - entrepreneurs, working in their own way, at their own pace, to bake amd provide excellent bread to people in their communities. Excellent bread is made locally with high quality ingredients that have been gently processed. It has no unnecessary additives or preservatives. It is fermented over a long period of time to make it easy to digest and taste better. It has minimal packaging. There is an element of "hand work" which makes the bread artisan - i.e: something that is made with "handcraft". Most important, however, it is bread that is made with love, care, and skill and the motivation, in no particular order is:
1. To do something we love to the best of our abilities.
2. To earn some money doing it.
3. To change the world through bread.
Of the 200 or so people who have now completed the microbakery course and become Bread Angels, many have scooped prizes at the World Bread Awards, won small business awards, received business development grants from private and public sources and - most importantly - developed a loyal, dedicated customer base made up of people who love their bread, no longer consume the industrial loaf, and who influence their local communities regarding the benefits of eating good bread. A small group of Bread Angels are teaching people how to bake bread. Before they teach, they must bake and sell bread for 3-6 months, attend many training courses, and feel confident that they can actually teach others. The big hurdle is the confidence - it takes time to get to a stage where you feel you know enough, are good enough, can answer questions or at least know where to find the answers, and have the teaching skills to train others. Bread Angels do not teach if they do not feel confident and if we do not have confidence in them. Classes are small and intimate, students get a lot of attention, everyone bakes every loaf, recipes and techniques are shared by e mail and questions invited. Bread Angels love talking about bread and all of us provide as much support - during and after classes - as our students want. We are on trip advisor and the reviews, regularly read, are mainly excellent. As I type this we are ranked fourth of 108 classes and workshops in London. Students enjoy their classes and many come back over and over again to take as many classes as we can confidently develop. Bread Angels are here to change the world for the better.
Everyone who wants to, contributes to the business to help cover the costs of running the website/booking engine, paying for a press service and a newsletter service, hiring a PR agency when there is enough money in the bank, and covering the cost of the time it takes to deliver excellent customer service. We also enjoy non-direct financial benefits including access to discounts and bulk buying, access to the knowledge and experience within our own community, ongoing training, opportunities to be in the press, to write and speak, and influence public opinion, to be part of a movement whose momentum can only help us all, "us" being "we the people of the entire world".
Bread Angels bake as much bread as we can and sell it all to delighted customers who buy repeatedly and recommend the bread to others. Those who teach welcome back repeat students and receive delighted reviews. It's a "social franchise" into which Bread Angels pay if they want to in order to share the significant costs of running a business. When the water comes into the river all the boats float, that's what we always say. The more great bakers and teachers there are, the more great bread people eat. The more entrepreneurs there are, the more taxes get paid, the more people are employed, the more individuals are satisfied with their lives. We think it's a great model. It's a model so traditional and yet so ahead of its time. Supportive, sharing, dedicated and professional people making and delivering an excellent product that people buy repeatedly and recommend to others. That's what we do and we are proud of it.