Bake like Sufia - A story and recipe idea for your Big Brew

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Sufia and her husband live in an area of Bangladesh largely reliant on agriculture, but they own very little land. This means that their opportunities to earn a decent living are severely limited.

For years, Sufia tried to make ends meet by labouring in jute extraction – extracting and cleaning the fibres from ‘retted’ jute (jute which has rotted under water to make it easier to work). These fibres are then sold and woven into baskets or bags.

The jute season is just three months long, and Sufia wasn’t even paid a wage – instead receiving one bundle of jute sticks per basket of fibre extracted.

So Sufia got to thinking about new ways to earn money.

Having noticed the busy junction near her house, she knew there was profit to be made by selling home made snacks and hot drinks to hungry passers-by. What she didn’t know was how to access the capital she needed to get started.

Traidcraft Exchange has worked with people involved with jute for many years, helping women exactly like Sufia, at the very bottom of the supply chain.

Thanks to many years of working in the jute sector, we knew that women like Sufia, despite their hard work and determination, couldn’t make a living from jute alone – they need alternative incomes. That’s why we set up the JEWEL project, working with hidden entrepreneurs to give them the skills and opportunities they need to leave poverty behind for good.  

We helped Sufia to take part in business training, and join a local savings groups, who lent her a small sum of money. Following this, she felt confident enough to invest in the first batch of ingredients, baking traditional Bangladeshi fried cakes, soaked in sugar syrup.

Now her roadside stall is thriving, and her sweet snacks are selling, quite literally, like hot cakes!

Inspired by Sufia pastry snacks

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Now that you know the story of Sufia and her pastry snacks, why not try your hand at making your own delicious treats? And better still, sell them to raise money for Hidden Entrepreneurs like Sufia.


One packet of puff pastry (you can make your own if you’d like, but we used ready made!)
250g cream cheese
60g icing sugar
3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon


1.       Tip the cream cheese, cinnamon and icing sugar into a bowl and mix together – this will be the filling and topping

2.       Cut out circles, about half a centimetre thick, from the pastry using a cutter or an upturned glass

3.       Place a dollop of cream cheese filling in the centre of the circles, and then fold in half and seal the pastry along the edges

4.       Bake in the oven for 12 minutes at 190 degrees, then leave to cool

5.       Ice with the remaining cream cheese and cinnamon mixture then dust with icing sugar

6.       Sell for a profit and enjoy!


To make a donation to help Hidden Entrepreneurs like Sufia, click the button below

J McNaughton