Good Talk Series: Sweets With A Purpose, ft. Yellow Ribbon Industries

Good Talk Series: Sweets With A Purpose, ft. Yellow Ribbon Industries

A chat with Ms Waida Jumaat, GM of Yellow Ribbon Industries

Journey with us to the heart of Changi Prison, where a sweet revolution takes place at Yellow Ribbon Bakery, a Halal-certified artisanal bakery with a cause. As a subsidiary of Yellow Ribbon Singapore, they go beyond the kneading of dough to empower inmates with a chance to discover the art of baking and gain valuable skills and on-the-job training that opens doors to a brighter future. 

Now, join us to hear directly from the individuals making it all happen as we explore the personal side of Yellow Ribbon Bakery's mission for second chances.

GiftGood: Thank you for joining us today. Can you share with us about yourself and how you get started with Yellow Ribbon Bakery? 

Waida Jumaat: I am Waida Jumaat, GM for Food Services at Yellow Ribbon Industries Pte. Ltd., which includes Yellow Ribbon Bakery. Yellow Ribbon Industries is the wholly owned subsidiary of Yellow Ribbon Singapore (YRSG), which champions the second chances movement in Singapore.  

The social cause in this business appealed to me. I have been with Yellow Ribbon Industries since 2019.  

GiftGood: Can you share with us about Yellow Ribbon Bakery, and how it aligns with the broader mission of Yellow Ribbon Singapore?

Waida Jumaat: Yellow Ribbon Bakery specialises in fresh bread loaves and handcrafted confectioneries. We are Halal and HACCP certified.  

We support the advocacy of Yellow Ribbon through our confectionaries. At our Bakery, guided by our professional bakers, inmates are given the opportunity to learn bakery craftsmanship.  They create delicious bakes, with passion and determination. When consumers like you purchase our confectionaries, you show them that you support Second Chances and give them Hope.

GiftGood: Navigating a bakery with a unique social cause must have presented its own set of challenges. Could you share some of the hurdles Yellow Ribbon Bakery encountered initially and how the team overcame them, all while staying true to the mission of rehabilitation and empowerment?

Waida Jumaat: There have been reservations in the past about purchasing confectionaries baked by inmate-bakers.  

We overcame the reservations in 2 ways. Firstly, we placed an important emphasis on right learning and quality. The inmate-bakers are guided on the entire spectrum of baking techniques, from measuring and weighing ingredients, mixing them using hands to acquire desired consistency, kneading into suitable shapes and finally baking them. This ensures they understand the importance of stage in producing quality baked products. Repeated practice sessions also helped them to master these baking techniques and their quality. In recent times, we have encouraged the inmate-bakers to develop their own recipes for confectionaries. For example, in 2023, inmate-bakers created ‘Ondeh-Ondeh biscuits’ and ‘Honey Purple Potato Mooncake with Coconut Yam mooncake’ to celebrate Hari Raya Puasa and Mid-Autumn Festival. These creations were well received.  

Secondly, we have been making conscious marketing efforts to showcase the quality and well-crafted confectionaries to different consumers. The right message and packaging to complement the quality product have helped to overcome the stereotypes. 

CNY cookies for hope

Image: Chinese New Year exclusive pineapple tarts and cookies, by Yellow Ribbon Bakery

GiftGood: I must say, your efforts are genuinely inspiring. Can you walk us through the process of creating your signature cookies? Can you share any anecdotes or stories about the collaboration and teamwork that goes into baking these cookies?

Waida Jumaat: At the Artisanal confectionery section, professional bakers and inmate-bakers work together to develop the recipes for their signature cookies.  Inmate-bakers experiment with different combinations of ingredients and flavours and go through many rounds of bake tests, discussions, and recipe adjustments until they achieve the desired results. Each team member brings their expertise and creativity to the table, contributing to the overall success of the final product. Through this, the inmate-bakers learn how to help and support one another, fostering a sense of camaraderie, and knowing that they are working towards a common goal.

GiftGood: Is there a success story you can share about the positive impact of Yellow Ribbon Bakery on the inmates?

Waida Jumaat: We have an inmate-baker who was apprehensive and lacked self-esteem when he joined the Yellow Ribbon Bakery two years ago. Today, he proudly leads the Artisan Confectionery team and has created a total of 25 recipes, some of which were featured during Yellow Ribbon festive sales. He shared that just like refining a recipe, one can improve their quality of life through hard work, dedication, and continuous learning.

Q7: What an inspiring journey! So looking ahead, how does Yellow Ribbon Bakery envision its role in the community and the broader bakery industry? Are there any long-term goals or aspirations you can share with us?

Waida Jumaat: We see ourselves as a business that contributes to the community. We channel part of our profits to the community to support interventions that strengthen the families and children of incarcerated individuals. Additionally, in our Mid-Autumn mooncake sales, we also contributed $5 to Yellow Ribbon Fund for every mooncake box sold.  

We will always evolve the work we do in Yellow Ribbon Bakery so that aspiring inmate-bakers are abreast with the latest baking techniques and constantly refine their skills. In the long run, we hope to create a pathway where the trained inmate-bakers are sent for further skills upgrading after their release. This will enhance their employability and help the bakery industry attract a new pool of Singaporean bakers.

GiftGood: Your dedication to creating positive change through baking is both admirable and inspiring. Again, thank you for taking us behind the scenes of Yellow Ribbon Bakery. Wishing you all the best as you continue to spread sweetness and empowerment.

As we wrap up this inspiring journey with Yellow Ribbon Bakery, let's carry the spirit of second chances forward this Chinese New Year. Grab these delectable treats from Yellow Ribbon Bakery for your custom CNY gift box right here, as well as our pre-curated CNY hampers featuring CNY-special treats such as pineapple ball tarts and chocolate orange cookies from Yellow Ribbon Bakery. These meaningful gifts will surely delight your recipients while supporting a good cause close to your heart.

CNY Treasure Hamper GiftGood

Image: GiftGood's CNY-exclusive Treasure Hamper featuring Yellow Ribbon Bakery's goodies and mandarin oranges. 

Bonus: From 19-25 January 2024, we will also be running a giveaway on GiftGood Instagram with delectable CNY treats from Yellow Ribbon up for grabs. Stay tuned!

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