Here at BizCover, any opportunity for us to brag about how awesome our customers are, we’ll take it.
With today being International Cookie Day, what better time is there to showcase one of our customers who is a pioneer in the world of everyone’s favourite baked good?
We spoke to Eric Chuah, Co-Founder and Chief of Everything at The Cookie Project about the great work they do.
The Cookie Project is a social enterprise that help Kiwis with disabilities to understand their own value in themselves and to society, by paying them a dignified income of at least the minimum wage of $17.70 NZD an hour. They deliver on this commitment by collaborating with iconic Kiwi brands like Lewis Road Creamery, Pics Peanut Butter, and Trade Aid to hand make tastier and healthier cookies that spark joy.
We asked Eric what it was that inspired him to start The Cookie Project. It first began when he met Graeme – the now Co-Founder and Chief of Cookies – at a community event in 2017.
“I was giving a talk about purpose (ikigai) and how to build a purpose driven business (social enterprise). Graeme was at the event wanting to learn more about setting up business. We chat and after learning about Graeme’s heartfelt story about the difficulty looking after three disabled youths, I was very moved and decided to do something to help Graeme.”
Eric’s passion for his job his evident through the pride he has in receiving testimonials and personally witnessing the change and impact that The Cookie Project has for their bakers.
“Many of our bakers joined with very low confidence, shy and quiet” said Eric.
“But now the same bakers have strong self-confidence, the ability to socialise within the team and even with the public with no reservation. As a result, some of the bakers are now our top cookie cutters with the ability to perform complex tasks. Furthermore, to receive an average of 8.5 out of 10 for happiness level and 9 out of 10 for sense of belonging from our bakers has encouraged me to work even harder to help other Kiwis with disabilities.”
From the outset, Eric and Graeme knew the only way to create an inclusive sustainable brand is to win not just with sympathy but with quality. They deliver the most delicious butter cookies (or shortbread) that NZ has to offer by collaborating with iconic Kiwi brands like Lewis Road Creamery, Pic’s Peanut Butter and Trade Aid.
“Our cookies are the only commercial cookies using the best butter in NZ by Lewis Road Creamery. It is free of preservatives, additives or colouring.”
To date, The Cookie Project has an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 from more than 30+ reviews on Facebook.
“Our customers love our cookies not only for the great taste and quality but also knowing each cookie purchased will result in employment for people with disability. Check out our YouTube channel to see our customers’ feedback and reaction when having our cookies.”
Finally, we asked Eric if he had any advice for those who are looking to start their own business.
“Anyone can start a business,” he said, “but not everyone can build a brand.”
“So be authentic and find your ikigai, whereby what you do is what you’re great at, what you’re passionate in, what the society needs, and what the society is happy to reward you with. Because making money alone is just not good enough of a reason to start a business these days.”
1 in 4 Kiwis are disabled, and the employment rate for the disabled people is only 22% compared to 70% for those who are non-disabled. The Cookie Project’s first and foremost goal is to help Kiwis with disabilities to understand their own value to themselves and to society.