The problem: 1 in 4 Kiwis have a disability and their employment rate is only 22%. Some are paid as low as NZ$1.75 an hour, legally.
The Cookie Project is a certified social enterprise that employs Kiwis with disabilities
to make award-winning delicious cookies.
Why: To help Kiwis with disabilities to understand their own value to themselves and to society.
How: We achieve this by creating ethical employment that pays them at least the minimum adult wage of NZ$18.90 an hour.
What: We bake delicious cookies in partnership with the finest Kiwi brands and use simple and clean ingredients so that we win by quality, not by sympathy. #NomNomNom
- Inclusion: where everyone is welcomed, appreciated, and respected.
• We live this value by having a pan-disability employment framework and we’re the only employer in NZ that welcomes anyone with physical, sensory, cognitive, and mental health disabilities.
- World-class: where we aim to be the very best in everything that we do, especially cookies.
• We live this value through the quality ingredients and values-aligned partners, where we win together by quality, not by sympathy.
- Whanaungatanga (Belonging): where we create a sense of belonging through shared experiences.
• We live this value by providing a platform for our bakers to integrate with society, such as pop-up stalls, open kitchen days, and our new baking experiences that are truly unique and increasingly popular for corporate team building.
How we deliver Sustainable Development Goals
Alignment with SDG #8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Target 8.2: Diversity, Innovate and Upgrade For Economic Productivity
Our progress: Continuous process optimisation, gamifying team productivity, explore new baking innovation to add value to existing product range. Our current productivity ratio is 1:5 and we are aiming for 1:10 by June 2021.
Target 8.5: Full Employment and Decent Work With Equal Pay
Our progress: We have generated over 3,000 employment hours over the past 2.5 years in our startup phase. In our next scaling up phase, we aim to generate additional 10,000 meaning employment hours over 3 years between 2021 and 2023.
Target 8.9: Promote Beneficial and Sustainable Tourism
Our progress: We have launched a series of unique and fun baking experiences that are focused on disability, inclusion and cookies! We aim to generate NZ$2,000 revenue on our Super Cookie Saturdays by June 2021.
Alignment with SDG #10 - Reduced Inequalities
Reduce inequality within and among countries.
Target 10.1: Reduce Income Inequalities
Our progress: We pay all our bakers in line with the national minimum adult wage, currently NZ$18.90 an hour, and from 1 April 2021, NZ$20 an hour. We aim to be a Living Wage Employer (NZ$22.10 an hour) by June 2022.
Target 10.2: Promote Universal Social, Economic and Political Inclusion
Our progress: We are scaling up our impact through Local Cookie Rep initiative where we empower Kiwis with disability to be self-employed through The Cookie Project anywhere in New Zealand. We aim to have 10 Local Cookie Reps by the end of 2021.
Target 10.3: Ensure Equal Opportunities and End Discrimination
Our progress: Through our Cookie Champion program, we are providing everyone an opportunity to have a shared experience and feel a sense of belonging. We aim to increase our pool of active Cookie Champions to 50 by June 2022.
Our Employment Charter
The purpose of our Employment Charter is to align our employment framework with our values to foster an Inclusive and World-Class workplace that create a sense of Whanaungatanga (Belonging) for everyone. It is an evolving charter that everyone is accountable and empowered to uphold.
1. We exist for you: We will always plan, design, and deliver meaningful employment framework that is human-centred around employees and our values
• Evidence of policies, documentation, discussion, decision making process, values-led performance discussion, and workplace adaptation within company financial means.
2. We want your input: To give you the best employee experience, we will always share our plans with you and welcome your feedback.
• Evidence of open and honest culture where employee feedback in verbal and written form are taken into consideration for decision making process.
3. We are evolving: Our employment framework is the first of its kind in NZ and that means it takes a few trials and errors to relentlessly develop the right model. In the process, we will never ever short-change you intentionally.
• Evidence of continuous internal review of employment framework, remuneration, full financial transparency, and consultation with industry experts.
Take a sneak peek behind the scenes
Employment opportunities are created when you order cookies from The Cookie Project and we only bake on demand to keep our core range of cookies fresh, with no preservatives, additives, or colouring.
Our impact since launching in june 2018
We have 8 people with disabilities on our roster, with another 40 on the waiting list
We have generated over 3315 hours of paid employment at minimum wage of $18.90 an hour
We have received an average score of 8.5 out of 10 for happiness levels from the people with disabilities
We have received an average score of 9 out of 10 for sense of belonging from people with disabilities
We are breaking down social stigma about the disability community because 8 out of 10 volunteers have not worked with people with disabilities prior to coming to our kitchen
Meet Graeme and Eric - two strangers who met in a community event in 2017. Eric was giving a talk about purpose (ikigai) and how to build a purpose driven business (social enterprise). Graeme was attending to learn more about setting up business. After learning about Graeme’s heartfelt story about the difficulty looking after three disabled youths, Eric was very moved and decided to do something to help Graeme.
We started small with Graeme’s adopted Maori children who are now three amazing youths: Nga Hou aged 17, Tony aged 16, and Tyson aged 14. They are the three faces on our logo and they were born with at least 10 various types of disabilities, such as macrocephaly, epilepsy, in-utero and prenatal alcohol exposure, nocturnal enuresis, exotropia, ADHD, global learning difficulties and intellectual disability.
Eric was born in Ipoh which is a small mining town of Malaysia. He comes from a family line of migrants and grew up with the stories of how tough life was for his parents and grandparents - war, poverty and lack of education. For example, Eric’s parents had to sell cakes and cookies after school to help make a living for the family in the 1950s. It was because of these stories of struggle that fuelled Eric to succeed in life and made sure he breaks the cycle through education. Eric studied hard and worked even harder during his early banking career – he was one of the youngest expats from ANZ working in the banking sector and was fortunate to experience life in eight different countries across Asia and Australia. In 2013, he arrived in New Zealand as Head of Migrant Banking for the largest bank in New Zealand. He decided to leave the corporate world in 2017 and to start his first social enterprise in helping community groups and those in less fortunate positions.