They started with five employees and now have the most prominent companies among their customers

Photo: Marija Piroški

In the photo: Marijana Savić, director of social enterprise Bagel Bejgl

They started with five employees and now have the most prominent companies among their customers

They did not wait for all the pieces to be in place, but they didn’t regret it – IT PAID OFF!

Author: Jelena Skenderija

MOJ BIZNIS - 16.12.2023. 09:58h

When they realized they had to take care of the women victims for whom they exist, as well as the survival of the organization Atina and all their programs on their own, they decided to start their enterprise, Bagel Bejgl, in Belgrade nine years ago.

In that period, they thought that Belgrade was a city that deserved a quality bagel, that they needed a place where they could practice their culinary skills and at the same time give back to the community and support those who do not have the same possibilities. That is how they came up with this idea, which continues today. When you buy a bagel, you not only enjoy the incredible tastes and smells of freshly baked pastries but also help someone in a specific way each time and participate in creating a society tailored to us all.

This bakery's priority is producing and selling fantastic bagels, and there has been an agreement from the start that the people gathered around this project will make and sell only what they eat and love.

- And the food is always on our minds - quality food, which nurtures body and soul. The secret ingredient of our product is the fight for dignity - Marijana Savić stated categorically.

The profits made by this enterprise are intended for the recovery of victims of human trafficking who are in the support program run by “Atina.” The goal is to provide opportunities for women from hard-to-employ categories. In Serbia, they say, there are many such women, those younger than 30 and older than 50, victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. In this enterprise, they acquire practice to find employment more quickly in the labor market.

30 women trained

Bagel Bejgl is a bakery, a social enterprise launched within NGO Atina, whose profits are used to finance support programs for victims of human trafficking. The goal was for this place to be for the beneficiaries of Atina’s program, where they would gain knowledge and skills to help them find employment. So far, more than 30 beneficiaries have completed the training in culinary skills. They offer a large selection of quality products prepared from local ingredients, without additives, encouraging women's solidarity entrepreneurship and contributing to reducing poverty - particularly of vulnerable social groups.

As this association has signed memorandums of cooperation with several companies, this is a stepping stone to finding a dignified job for many women who want to be in the food industry. Given that victims of human trafficking are most often barely of legal age, for many of them, these are the first contacts they establish in building a different future for themselves and their loved ones.

At the beginning of its work, this bakery had only five employees; today, seven of them are permanently employed, and ten help them part-time, depending on the volume of work.

- Now we can provide catering for 300 people. Today, we are preparing 250 bagels for a Belgrade IT company and working for many. Some come back often and are our regular customers, especially those from the film industry and companies that love top-quality food. We are planning to extend our production capacity and make further expansion in the market - said Marijana.

What is a bagel?

Bagel is the original pastry of the Jews who lived in Poland and continued to make it after they immigrated to America, where it became famous. In some parts of the US and Great Britain today, bagels have a cult status, like our burek. This precise pastry is made from high-protein flour and kneaded in a specific way to develop the proteins within the dough, which is then left to rest and rise for 12 to 18 hours at a temperature of 4 degrees Celsius. After that, the dough is cooked and baked, contributing to its specific and characteristic taste.

Marijana advises all those who still need to dare to start their own business to wait for everything to be as you need, for all the laws to be adopted and regulations passed, and to wait for better times; you will not get far. Work with what you have within the given framework. Set dates, take risks, be brave, and, above all, persevere. Trust the people you work with. And of course, know that this way you will perform three times more than if you were employed by someone else, but that the satisfaction with what you achieved is also at least three times greater – said Marijana Savić.

The hardworking women from this social enterprise will present their work, together with ten other women entrepreneurs, at the holiday bazaar #BelieveInYourself with the support of Erste Bank on Saturday, December 16, in the "Jevremovac" Botanical Garden, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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