Bakery provides work for young adults with autism

National 2 minutes, 20 seconds


THE SMARTER Washington Bakery is a good example of a small business model which helps ease young people with autism into the world of employment and independence.

The Society for the Management of Autism-Related Issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER) Brunei President, Malai Hj Abdullah Malai Hj Othman, in a phone interview with The Brunei Times, yesterday said that their Washington Bakery was booming due to the rising demand for their home-made Milo cookies.

Launched just last month, SMARTER Washington Bakery functions as a means to help raise funds for the society to upgrade its services and facilities.

All the cookies are made and packed by Individuals with Autism (IWA) at SMARTER’s Brunei Autism Centre for Adults (BACA) in Jangsak, where the bakery is based.

The society’s president said that all 38 students at BACA were involved in the process of making the cookies.

“My policy is ‘no one is unemployed’. There’s one team who’s making the cookies, one who’s packing, one who’s sorting out the recyclable materials for thepackaging and one printing the labels used on the packaging.

“Everyone has to have at least one role in the process – some (IWA) even handle up to four roles within the process,” Malai maintained.

He further said that the IWA were paid $.50 just for reporting for work, and continues to work at a rate of $2.50 an hour at the bakery per day.

“They can get up to about $20 a day – depending on how much they produce - which is above minimum wage,” Malai pointed out.

He said the bakery utilises a “clock in, clock out” system, similar to other workplaces.

“In this way, they are learning about the real working environment and also independence,” Malai said.

“Sometimes, they may not feel like working, but they’re generally quite motivated to work hard to earn their own money,” he also said, expressing approval of his students.

Malai said that the IWA are brought to the bank to open a savings account, once they have accumulated savings of about $100, to teach them about banking and about the value of saving.

According to him, SMARTER’s cookies are currently being sold at five different Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf outlets, throughout the country and they consistently request for SMARTER to replenish their cookie stocks every week.

Besides that, the bakery also gets individual cookie orders by families as well as companies like NBT Sdn Bhd which order cookies offered as snacks to their customers, Malai said.

The cookies were ordered as door gifts for a wedding celebration, he said.

Malai also shared that their products are currently being sold at the ongoing Brunei Edutainment Wonderland in Jerudong.

SMARTER’s cookies can also be purchased at SMARTER’s BACA in Jangsak.

The Brunei Times