Sunday, December 4, 2022

Imelda Imoli: How Jalang’o gave my bakery business biggest break

Imelda Imoli is the founder of Bakery Affairs, a coffee and cake bakery business located in Umoja 1, Embakasi.

I started Bakery Affairs in June 2018. This was after resigning from my job in March of the same year. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure if baking was what I wanted to do. My mind was set on just starting a business.

At the time, I was baking small gift cakes for family and friends from home. Then a friend decided to challenge me to bake for her kids’ birthday. I didn’t have any special equipment for a professionally baked cake, but I took the challenge nonetheless. I pulled it off. Those who attended urged me to turn my skills into a business.

I started with around Sh. 80,000. Getting started wasn’t too hard since I already had the requisite baking skills. I used this capital to acquire some equipment and started baking from home. I started with mini cakes cupcakes, muffins and loaf cakes.

This worked in my favour as it took less than 6 months to get regular and return customers. I remember when I started, I would pass samples of my cakes around. This helped my brand to build customer confidence and reputation. Today, my business specializes in all types of cakes, pastries and snacks. These range from birthday cakes and corporate events snacks to wedding cakes.

Equipment and structuring payments were a big challenge when I started. It was my first time as an entrepreneur and I was learning the ropes on the job. I would get an order only to realize that I needed to buy or hire an equipment to pull off a good job. There were also times when some customers would pay less than we had agreed or fail to pay at all.

When I started my business, I had a challenge with impulse buying. I was excited to start a business. I went and bought some advanced baking equipment that I’ve never used to date. I don’t regret though, because I believe they’ll one day come in handy. From this industry, I have learned that designs keep changing. Your ability to sustain this type of business lies in how creative and innovative you will be.

One of my memorable moments was when I got a baking task from the current Lang’ata Member of Parliament, Jalang’o. I knew this would be a big opening since he had a huge following on his social media channels. I nailed the task and got a major acknowledgement for a job well done on his social channels. This gave me a lot of exposure and vindicated my business trajectory.

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I save with both a bank and a Sacco. Previously, I used to keep money in my mobile phone. But I realized that I was too quick on spending it due to its easy access. It was also harder to keep track of every shilling as it kept coming in and going out. With the two modes of saving and transacting, I have now been able to establish a banking record that can afford my business financing if and when I need it.

Information is power. Keep learning and keep searching especially when you are in business. If you have a skill, convert it into an income stream. You can do this right from your home. I started from home and later transitioned to an open, physical business.

Along the way, I’ve learned to avoid borrowing unnecessarily.  Don’t borrow if such debt has no positive impact on the business. It is easy to borrow but the damage a bad debt does can come with very huge implications.

A version of this profile feature on Imelda Imoli was also published in the Saturday Magazine. The Saturday Magazine is a publication of the Nation Media Group.

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