YANGON, Myanmar — It’s 6 a.m. and a small kitchen tucked away at the back of a house in Yangon, Myanmar is buzzing. Women are hard at work measuring and mixing ingredients to make the day’s batch of baked goods. The women work away, occasionally sharing stories and laughing softly as they go.
Across town, in another kitchen, more women are getting ready to prepare the day’s meals — washing, chopping, tossing and cooking the day’s fresh salads and soups that will soon find their way to plates around Yangon.
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These are just two of the kitchens belonging to the Yangon Bakehouse, a unique social enterprise started by two Canadian women and their partners. It was one of the first businesses of its kind in Myanmar, helping give women living in poverty, with little opportunity and few marketable skills a chance in the rapidly growing service industry in the country.
After the military junta that ruled the country with an iron fist for decades suddenly decided to ease restrictions on the citizens of Myanmar, entirely new opportunities began to emerge and the founders of the Yangon Bakehouse recognized this as their chance.