In love with Vietnam

Michael Harder and a bakery of benevolence

Michael Harder, a Canadian, is the General Director of Joma Bakery Café, a global company providing high-quality coffee and cakes that has been doing business in Vietnam for 10 years.

His popular chain of stores in Hanoi has introduced many delicious cakes to the Vietnamese people. However, the most special thing about Michael Harder and his stores is his employment of disabled youths. He gives guidance and training to them for a fulfilling career and meaningful life.

 

The journey of Joma Bakery Café to Vietnam has the flavor of love. After many years running Joma Bakery Café in Canada, Michael went to Laos to start a new chain there and met Ms. Aun, who is Thai. He was the executive director and she, a product developer. They shared a passion for bringing the Joma brand to the world and Vietnam was chosen as an attractive and promising destination in Asia.

 

In 2009, Joma Bakery Café opened its first store in Hanoi. Its opening day was a memory that would forever stay in Michael’s heart, seeing the long lines of customers eager for delicious cakes from his home Canada. After 12 years of hard work, Joma Bakery Café continues to expand and is now a popular place in Hanoi for both local and foreign customers.

 

More than a successful business, Joma Bakery Café is a community business. Mr. Harder has dedicated himself to disabled people in Vietnam. 10% of Joma Bakery Café’s annual profits are given to charity, specifically for training people with disabilities. Michael then would employ them at Joma Bakery Café stores.




Michael Harder is the General Director of Joma Bakery Café, a global company providing high-quality coffee and cakes that has been doing business in Vietnam for 10 years. Photo: Cong Dat


Michael Harder and his wife chose Vietnam as their destination to open Joma Bakery Café. Photo: Cong Dat


Michael Harder and his wife teach the staff on how to make cakes. Photo: Cong Dat



Checking the quality of cakes. Photo: Cong Dat



Joma Bakery Café employees are taught child safety methods.

Photo: Joma Bakery Café’s files




Joma Bakery Café is the favorite bakery of domestic and foreign tourists

when coming to Hanoi. Photo: Joma Bakery Café’s files


“People with disabilities, whether mute, deaf or blind, have had life put them at a disadvantage but that does not mean that they are useless. I believe in training and empowering them, so that they can have jobs and contribute to society,” said Michael.

 

According to Michael about his time working in Vietnam, the happiest experience is helping disabled employees, supporting them in their growth. Joma Bakery Café gives them jobs, good compensation and training in key skills. So far, he has trained 100 disabled workers and many later developed their own shops. In 2021, Joma Bakery Café had 50 apprentices.

 

The kitchen space of Joma Bakery Café always has the aroma of cakes being baked. Here, disabled employees work together, often using sign language and receive respect and understanding.

 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Joma Bakery Café was significantly affected, but the employees still received support and kept their jobs. As the general director, Michael believed that with confidence and good leadership, business could survive the pandemic and continue its expansion in Hanoi. The disabled and disadvantaged people account for more than 20% of the company's workforce.




Carrot cakes by Joma Bakery Café. Photo: Joma Bakery Café’s files


Chocolate croissants by Joma Bakery Café. Photo: Joma Bakery Café’s files



Lao coffee by Joma Bakery Café. Photo: Joma Bakery Café’s files



Cold Brew by Joma Bakery Café. Photo: Joma Bakery Café’s files



Chocolate cookies by Joma Bakery Café. Photo: Joma Bakery Café’s files

 


Latte by Joma Bakery Café. Photo: Joma Bakery Café’s files


Story: Bich Van - Photos: Cong Dat, Files -Translated by Hong Hanh

David Devin - beyond love for Vietnamese women

David Devin - beyond love for Vietnamese women

After working in Vietnam during the war, David Devin returned to the S-shaped country in peacetime. During his 19 years living in Vietnam, the 78-year-old writer has continued his writing career, teaches English, and participates in community activities supporting Vietnamese women in their life and work.


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