CapeTalk

Khayelitsha Cookies

Biography

A tough cookie in the biscuit business There’s no doubt that one can describe Adri Williams as a ‘tough cookie’. She worked for a business for seven years, only to discover it was due to close down due to accumulated losses of R2.5 million. In order to save the jobs of the 52 breadwinners working for Khayelitsha Cookies, Adri bought the company for R1, taking over all the debt at the same time. Today, the business is a model of success, employing previously unemployed women from the township of Khayelitsha, who hand bake and pack cookies. Adri says that these are offered in single wrap form for the hospitality industry – the company supplies to Garden Court and Southern Sun Hotels, as well as Tsogo Sun Casinos – as well as bulk cookies, under the ‘Scrumptious Cookies’ brand, to Pick n Pay. It is clearly not a business for the attention deficit – there is no using a machine to bake and pack these biscuits. Adri suggests that while hand baking and packing can take up to 40 times as long as using a machine, her business is all about creating real employment opportunities for those who, under normal circumstances, would be unlikely to find jobs. Moreover, she adds, the women who work for her own a collective 30% share of the business. She points out that like her, everyone has the power to make a difference in someone’s life and create sustainable employment. It’s as simple as eating a Khayelitsha Cookie or Scrumptious cookie, she explains, thereby giving someone the opportunity to bake another cookie tomorrow. Her dream is to grow the business to a point where she can employ thousands of women, rather than just over 50. She believes this can be done, too, by duplicating the business model throughout South Africa, while also developing additional product lines.

On-air Interview