Despite Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) businesses contributing over 70% to the Kenyan GDP and taxes, most SMEs collapse before their 5th birthday for a number of reasons key among them lack of visibility.
For thousands of small businesses in Kenya getting known is sometimes next to impossible and the problem is even more complicated for home based bakers in the country.
Kenya’s baking scene is dominated by big brands who have the muscles to rent the most strategic locations in town and have no qualms rolling out a well oiled Public Relations campaign complete with TV adverts to woo customers.
This sad reality is, however, slowly changing thanks to a smart Kenyan philanthropist who is determined to give home based bakers a voice and with it an economic lifeline.
Wanjiku Mugo is the founder of bakers club app, an app that provides a list of verified bakers by location and speciality, complete with a gallery where the bakers have uploaded pictures of their past cakes, as well as a brief description of what they do.
The app, which is available on playstore, ensures clients can now easily access the nearest bakers next to them with a touch of a button and place their cake orders even if they move to a new location where they don’t know where the next bakery is located giving small time bakers a chance to grow and blossom.
Wanjiku Mugo is the founder of fast growing Bakers Club, an online community of local bakers and cake lovers. The community started as a Facebook group in February 2015 with the aim of bringing together individuals with a passion for baking, cake lovers, vendors and merchants of bakeware and ingredients.
“When I started The Bakers Club, I was very new in the baking scene. I would struggle to find information, recipes and supplies for my cakes. So, I thought of starting a group exclusively for individuals in the baking industry,” Wanjiku tells Business Insider Sub-Saharan Africa.
Over the years, the group has grown to now boast over 300,000 members and has since evolved from being just an online platform.
"Over the last 4 years that bakers club has been in existence, we have grown from just an online forum to real interactions where passions have been brought to life, businesses born, and small baking businesses transformed into medium-sized enterprises that are creating jobs for so many people. It gives me so much pleasure to watch lives being transformed - one cake at a time," says Wanjiku.
The Bakers Club is now embarking on transforming lives, with a focus on women and unemployed youth, empowering them and equipping them with baking skills that enable them to earn a living, some from the comfort of their homes, as well as promoting healthy bakes for families.
On 9th March 2019, the club held its first edition of cake tasting event in Nairobi, whose aim was to connect members in the baking business with potential clients who came to have a taste of the cakes and interact with the bakers as they learn about the cakes on display. A repeat of the cake tasting event was held on 20th April at All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi to great success.
“The 2nd cake tasting event was very successful and we managed to scale up the event even more by including stands for merchants and vendors of baking supplies and ingredients to exhibit their wares too, we also got a lot of support from Kenafric Industries who manufacture the best quality icing sugar for our cakes, who set up a stand with their amazing drinking chocolate “fudgeville”
The Bakers Club achievements haven’t gone unnoticed and this year, the group emerged as the Online Baking Group of the year 2019 at the Kenya Baking Industry Awards held in Nairobi on 27th March 2019.
The Baking app was thought of as a solution to everyday queries posted on the group’s wall with individuals seeking to connect with bakers in their location. The app is currently available for android users for free to both the bakers and the clients, but there are plans of making it a subscription service in future for sustainability.
Ms. Mugo is currently seeking to partner with a financier to develop the app further including making it available for iOS users, as well as integrating an online payment platform.
“We have tried as much as possible to vet the bakers who apply to be listed on the app, to avoid instances of fraud where in the past we have had challenges of con people who pose as bakers online and on receiving payment for cakes disappear into thin air. The bakers Club app is a perfect solution to ordering your cakes from the nearest vetted baker in your location within the shortest time possible. However, our responsibility ends once the connection between the baker and the client is done.” says Wanjiku.