In the final part of our social enterprise feature, we put the spotlight on a bakery which feeds the people of Singapore with delectable cupcakes and cakes in order to provide nutritious meals to hungry, underprivileged children in Timor-Leste.
Lisa Tan, Ugly Cake Shop
What made you want to start Ugly Cake Shop?
I believe I have a calling from God to feed hungry kids in Timor-Leste. Many families in Timor-Leste suffer from poverty, and numerous kids are plagued with malnutrition from the lack of protein in their diets. Some of the kids in the school Ugly Cake Shop supports only have one meal a day – and that is the meal that the school provides! I started Ugly Cake Shop first as a part-time business, baking from a licensed kitchen and selling at pop-up stores. By God’s grace, we started to garner a following, and I quit my career in public relations to work on the business full-time. We have now expanded to have a larger production space and a cozy little bakery cafe at Kallang Bahru.
How does Ugly Cake Shop contribute to social cause?
We have an ongoing commitment to Shallom School in the capital city, Dili. Part of our profits goes towards buying eggs and meat to supplement the school meals. We work through Agape Baptist Church in Singapore to bring the funds to Shallom School (a school which the church has adopted and visits very regularly). We also plan to contribute to marginalised children in Singapore, albeit in simple ways like offering free baking workshops.
How many children has your business helped?
The school has over 300 students, and the school meals are provided to everyone. We still have a long way to go, before we can supplement every school meal on a daily and sustainable basis. That is our goal as the business grows.
What are some things that people should know about running social enterprises?
There seems to be a lack of understanding of what social enterprises do – we are often confused with charities and not-for-profits. In fact, there is a great need for social enterprises to be profitable, in order for them to continue their social missions of feeding the poor, employing the marginalised, etc. Personally, this means we need to have great products, be able to rake in sales and we need to be even more prudent with our finances. In order to help more children in need, I will have to ensure that the business is sustainable.
Ugly Cake Shop is located at 535 Kallang Bahru, #01-06 GB Point, Singapore 339351
Read part 1 of 3 here: Nail salon equips single mothers and ex-convicts with employability skills
Read part 2 of 3 here: Online shopping platform empowers craftswomen to sell their products internationally