Building a cake business

By Victor Adar Marylynne Marube is already proof that you don’t need years of professional training to delve into some ventures. Her growth was powered by not only search engine, Google, but also from reading books and watching baking videos on You Tube. It was four years ago when the entrepreneurship bug bit her, and ever since, building the cake business has been the best thing to ever happen to her. Not waiting for the perfect time, Ms Marube started teaching herself in 2013 and by 2015 she had learned a lot on what to do, registered her company – Marie Sweet Cakes – and decided to go into the baking industry big time. She was doing it from the comfort of her home, and would buy one item at a time until she had enough of what she needed. “I would say am a ‘you tube’ graduate,” she says. “It wasn’t easy but I made it. It took me a whole year of teaching myself, from baking to decorating. It’s my passion that drove me to start doing what I do, and I love it. I saved and saved and saved, and with that I was able to buy the basic items like decorating tools, baking tins until I saw it fit to go commercial.” she says. Despite the fact that when she was starting up each day was a learning day, she is now exploiting the enormous potential of pastries churning out graduation cakes, wedding cakes, baby shower cakes as well as birthday cakes. She is now one lady who is burning mid-night oil making and selling cakes, delivering at least 8 cakes to different occasions during weekends and churns out at least 40 pieces in a month. She has employed four people as per now. With the yummy cookies, breads, muffins, cupcakes, braided loafs and croissants being the fast moving products during weekdays, she says that her target is both high end and the mass market because in this business, “even ten shillings for a cookie is a profit.” The burning entrepreneur says that in the current tough economic times, when so many young graduates continue to wait too long for job opportunities, getting into a business is the only way to kiss poverty goodbye. Hers is a story of resilience and hard work put together, especially going by the fact that she never went to any training college for baking. “Talk of the cakes, cookies, breads that are fresh, muffins, cupcakes… we deliver cakes that are well done, delivered on time, and well packaged mainly targeting not only the sweet toothed people but also those who consume gluten free cakes. I always want my clients to have an unforgettable experience after having a taste of my cakes and always come back for more,” she says. In her small ways, she is a powerful woman who believes that being “your own boss” is gainful because you give back to the society by creating employment opportunities. She is delivering real value to customers and is very much having an advantage because of the passion and zeal she has. Being a business lady she has time to think big and plan great things while having flexible hours to spend time with family. “Customers tend to come back again and again because of good service. I believe this good customer loyalty is what has helped me grow within the short time that I have been baking.” Comfort zone being the biggest enemy to youths, the You Tube lady says that Kenyans must embrace entrepreneurship or remain broke. She says that as long as you know what you are doing, there are hundreds of ventures that you can do at the comfort of your home. And baking and selling cakes is one of them. Shopping for creative bakers in this day is a tad challenging especially with the crowding out effect – most people can bake these days, and with the many numbers and the booming business, bogus bakers looking for easy money creep in and business becomes tough due to issues of trust. Marube’s wasn’t that hard since when she was a beginner she used to sell to friends, colleagues and family members, who would then refer her to other potential clients. And the reality that she is doing well without having gone to any cake school may come as a surprise. She points out that the venture is not for everyone, and also not for the faint hearted. One must really put in more work to make things happen. That’s why, quite often, some guys make it big while others never get to see the fruits of their labour especially when it is an idea that was borrowed. “I started baking in my house where I used to teach myself from reading books, researching through Google and watching baking videos. I want to be someone who bakes like no one else; do unique things and be one of the greatest bakers here in Kenya,” she says. Apart from a business permit from the county where you operate from, food handling medical certificate, which costs Sh600, comes handy. Other requirements include a food hygiene certificate and fire safety certificate (Sh3, 000). Then, a capital of Sh100, 000 is just enough for a start; depending on size of the bakery. Marube says that if you are to flourish in baking business, you have to be very passionate about it. And you either have it or you don’t. Once you jump into the business it is wise to keep on keeping on while engaging well thought out tactics that will enable you get a piece of the pie. But amidst the good things, every business has its own challenges so much that you must get creative in order to grow. “The greatest challenge as a baker is price of baking commodities. Everything is expensive and clients want cakes to be sold at a fair price. Electricity is expensive, traffic is hectic within the city sometimes one can delay in doing deliveries but so far we are trying,” she says.

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