RTS: "Selling bagels to assist victims of violence"

Sunday, May 12, 2019, 09:55 -> 10:03
Source: RTS
Author: Visnja Visnjic Milic
Selling bagels to assist victims of violence​
There is an alternative for those whose favorite breakfast is not burek. It was created in the organization "Atina" when they began producing bagels. All profits from this pastry sale is directed toward assistance to victims of violence and human trafficking. How they decided to make such a step and how challenging it is to run a social enterprise in Serbia.  
Eight months and ten extra kilos. Although it may seem as a pregnant woman's confession, it is actually a road which association "Atina" took in 2015 when it began producing bagels. And, in order to produce a perfect one, numerous recipes had to be tried and taste-tests endured.
"That is a pastry of Jewish people from Poland who took the recipe to the U.S. when they immigrated. Bagel is as popular in New York, as our burek is in Serbia. It is quite specific, as little water is used in making the dough, and it's full of proteins that are developed during the kneading and give that special flavor to bagels. Once the dough is ready, it is refrigerated for a day, and then bagels are boiled and baked", explains Marijana Savic, director of "Atina" - Citizens’ Association for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and all Forms of Gender-Based Violence.
The next step is to add savory or sweet spreads. The initial idea was to sell this pastry only at their shop, but over time the business has expanded.
"We have developed an excellent catering service and we can make mini bagels of many different flavors. We can do full vegetarian and vegan catering, as well as the most exclusive ones with salmon, tuna, and some other specialties. Our customers are usually companies, banks, different civil society organizations, but our pastry is also in high demand at children’s birthday parties," stresses Marijana, who is leading the social enterprise "Bagel Bejgl".
All profits are directed toward supporting victims of human trafficking and gender-based violence. 
"We have our own source of income which we can direct toward psychosocial support. Moreover, this is how we ensure continuity of services. For 16 years, we have been sole providers of a safe accommodation for girls and women, victims of human trafficking, in the territory of Serbia, which is of utmost significance," claims Marijana.
In addition, this place is also envisaged as a venue for training women in trade or baking industry. They do not only learn how to make bagels, but also acquire other skills that enable them to become more resourceful.
"One of the skills necessary when searching for a job in trade industry is work on a fiscal cash register. This single knowledge, skill, can be mastered in two hours, regardless of a person’s vocation. If you don’t have someone to explain it to you, to learn it, your employment opportunities are reduced. This is, for example, one of the things we can provide through this model," points out the director.
Being an entrepreneur in Serbia is a challenge, doubly so if you run a social enterprise. As the law does not recognize associations as the carriers of socio-entrepreneurship activities, their business is impeded in many respects.
"It is important to provide various subventions to entrepreneurs with clear socially responsible goals, which would facilitate employment, facilitate the business itself, where they could get a bonus when applying for public procurements," founders of "Bagel Bejgl" said.
Despite many obstacles in doing business, they have succeeded to return on investment and even to improve the production. They plan to distribute their pastry to huge supermarkets, and to organize delivery.
During four years of this unique bakery’s business, about seventy women have completed the training. Upon the completion of this program, a majority of them managed to acquire a job.  
The original text, as well as the video can be found via the following link: http://www.rts.rs/page/stories/sr/story/125/drustvo/3515055/prodajom-bej...