Beatrice Kagondu-the supa-baker

“I have always loved cooking since I was a young girl. My mum encouraged me and allowed me to experiment with different recipes.she gave me free reign in her kitchen.

My favorite subject in high school was home science and from there I went on to enroll at  a training program at the Norfolk Hotel. Chef Eamon Mullan  was running an apprentice based program for chefs and I was one of the five ladies selected that year.

Another one of my loves was Art. I have an artistic flair and having completed learning all the kitchen sections I settled on pastry. Here, I was able to combine the two loves of my life-art and food. Unlike my fellow students, I did not want to seek employment. For me I just wanted the knowledge to spruce up my hobby. I went on to Kenya Institute of management to do a course in business management. I was employed in an NGO for almost six years before I picked up my ‘hobby’ again.  I had a newborn and did not want to go back into employment. A friend of mine who had also gone through the Norfolk program was running a successful cake business and she challenged me to join her.

Running my business Sweet inspirations has not been without challenges, the first challenge was that I had a one month old baby who I was breast feeding  exclusively. So I would go with her to the bakery every day. I had  to get a house help to keep an eye on her at the office as I worked till she was weaned at six months. The same happened with my next baby. Both kids were always with me. I learned that there is a solution to everything. Clients were very accommodating and understanding.

My second  challenge was financing. Without collateral, Banks do not lend to new businesses and I had to rely on my Sacco savings to buy a mixer and an oven. Later on I was able to borrow using my office assets as collateral first from Equity, then from Family bank.

 

My third challenge was trained staff. In my opinion, the people seeking jobs in the market do not have up to date skills in the cake industry. So I have had to train all my staff members from scratch. From this I was able to start another arm of business-Training to people who want to transition into the cake industry and to students who want to pursue training for employment.

 

The fourth is one which everyone venturing into business soon discovers-the cost of doing business in Kenya. The licenses alone cost me about Ksh 28,000, the ingredients we use go up every year, cost of electricity and power outages.

 

The most exciting thing about my business is that it’s not monotonous . I get to design and do different cakes every day.  I love meeting new people and coming up with new and exciting cake themes and designs. Another high for me is that I can lift the lives of the women who pass through my business. I train them from scratch and release them empowered and with a skill. One of my former staff members is running a successful cake business of her own. Another is seeing the kind of work my former students are doing out there.  My daughters have also taken a liking to baking.
My advice for women planning to go into business is that be prepared to initially put in a lot of time in the business. One works harder and longer in business than when you are in employment until the business is established. I have now been able to put systems in place where it can run in my absence. I am able to take time off more often.

Secondly, you are not an island. Network with others in the industry, some may hoard information but there are others who are open and will willingly share with you and encourage you to soldier on. Thirdly, do not stagnate- keep on learning and evolving. Go back to school if you need to horn our skills. Hire skills where you are lacking. Fourth, there is life outside business. Separate your personal life from you business. Get a different number for the business. My priority is my family and I will not work on Saturday afternoons and on Sundays. My clients understand this. Don’t let your family member ever feel that the business takes precedence over them. Finally, go professional from the very beginning. Become compliant and start by registering the business, keep proper accounts and open a business bank account.  Begin a relationship with a  bank or two and  immediately start depositing all of your income. Pay yourself a salary even if it is a sole proprietorship.

Contact Sweet Inspirations For all  Your Occassions cakes

 

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