The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in the framework of its government-support mission, recently launched an initiative called “Migration et Pâtisserie” (“Migration and Pastry”) in Cameroon. The initiative funded by the Japanese government aims to support the (re)integration of internally displaced youths into host communities while improving socioeconomic well-being by combining culinary arts and youth volunteerism.
According to Abdel Rahmane Diop, IOM's Head of Mission in Cameroon, the initiative wants to create the conditions required to give those forced to flee the ongoing conflict in the North-West and South-West regions the opportunity to access vocational training that will help them deepen their pastry-making abilities and be able to develop bankable business plans.
For the pilot phase of the project, five internally displaced individuals (four women and one man) and two people from host communities were trained in pastry-making techniques and business development, between August 12 and September 2.
The training enhanced participants’s skills in how to to add value to their pastries by introducing new baking recipes. It also enabled them to improve pastry-making and decorating skills by observing how their trainers –professional pastry chefs from Cameroon and Japan– do their work.
They also gained practical knowledge on how to develop their business plans and how to present them effectively to potential business partners. On Saturday, September 16, the participants presented their pastries at a feedback workshop held at the Villa des Créateurs in Bastos, Yaoundé.
During the feedback workshop, Dibora Shela Itoe's "Eru Cake" and "Ekwang Cake", trompe l'œil cakes inspired by two traditional dishes from English-speaking regions, were a hit with the audience. The 31-year-old, who found refuge in Yaounde five years ago, now dreams of launching her pastry store. She aims to help customers reconcile or reappropriate their culture through her "African cakes", which she hopes one day to see on the menu of major ceremonies such as weddings, she says. Investors still need to be convinced though. In front of a diverse audience of government and diplomatic representatives, banking institutions and hoteliers, Dibora and the other participants defended their business plans to raise funds to launch their businesses.
Patricia Ngo Ngouem