“Last April, Hactl invited us to make over 2,000 boxes of handcrafted chocolates for its staff, to celebrate the company’s 45th anniversary. It was the first time we had collaborated with a large enterprise, or produced such a large amount of chocolates.” Louie says a total of thirteen SEN employees took part in the production. Everybody confronted the challenge as a team, while he patiently offered guidance and adjusted staff duties.
“Affixing stickers and bagging chocolates were the simplest tasks, which most employees could grasp; whereas more complicated processes that require precise movement and coordination, such as tempering the chocolate, pouring it into moulds, then filling the chocolates might not be possible for everyone. Coupled with the complication of attention deficit disorder in some, staffing arrangements and time allocation were pretty challenging,” explains Louie.
They all made it in the end. To Louie, it was a valuable learning experience for both staff and the social enterprise. “We are very grateful to Hactl for this valuable opportunity. Not only did I gain a better understanding of my staff’s abilities, but also how I can better cooperate with companies in the future. Business has been challenging under the pandemic, so we’re very grateful for Hactl’s support, which allowed us to provide work opportunities to SEN graduates”: something which Louie says has always been a challenge. Many get a job via referrals from the Labour Department, and employers receive subsidies for the first few months. But then, the graduates are often laid off - which he says is an immense frustration.
Looking forward, Louie hopes to organise courses with educational institutions, to train SEN graduates as professional chocolate makers.
Customers are delighted to taste handcrafted chocolate, and those who make it also receive an income and share the happiness of their accomplishments. “I didn’t realise my son had any talent when he stayed at home most of the time. But, when he joined us at the shop, chatting with customers and receiving praise, he was overjoyed. Buying his favourite green tea cake with his own money also makes him very happy,” says Louie.