Ingabire’s idea sprung from lockdown

Sunday June 13 2021
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Dorothy Ingabire Babumba displays a cake ready for dispatch. PHOTOS | JOAN SALMON

By Joan Salmon

Every cloud has a silver lining, so the old saying goes. This proved true for Dorothy Ingabire Babumba who during lockdown could not easily access breakfast snacks nearby thus the idea to bake cakes, muffins, dinner rolls, pizza and other snacks for her family. 

Her company— Dee’s Cupcakes and Mo —bakes cakes for birthday parties, weddings, introduction, Christmas and Easter ceremonies, among others.

The business Ingabire started during last year’s Covid-19 lockdown with as little as Shs50,000, now earns her a gross income of Shs2m per month, before other expenses are deducted.

How she started 

“I was inspired during lockdown to make my own cake for breakfast. I used the Shs50,000 I had saved to buy ingredients,” says Ingabire. 

With this money, she bought the ingredients and baked. “Thereafter, I would share on my status for the fun bit of it and before I knew it, friends were asking if I could supply their homes. This is when the idea hit me that I can actually make different pastries in the comfort of my home,” says Ingabire.

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Dee’s Cupcakes and Mo will be making a year soon and the candle is kept alive because Ingabire loves putting things together, more like creating things from scratch and make them look beautiful.

“This is where my inspiration comes from. That aside, I am inspired by some people I follow online such as Asha Batenga of Cakely Uganda who built her business in the comfort of her home. These humble beginnings spur me to keep keeping on,” says Ingabire.

Determination 

Ingabire describes her hustle as one that is still at the start stage and she notes that just like for everybody else, the start is never easy. “You really struggle from low finances, less equipment than you need,  having to build a brand and a clientele base. However each time I look back at where I came from and where you are headed, I can’t help but thank God,” she says.

“I didn’t want to wait to first accumulate a big sum of money thus using the money to get a cupcake tray and ingredients such as flour, margarine, baking powder, and milk. Thank God, I already had an oven at home so I was good to go.”

Turning point 

On the commercial lane, the first person to taste the work of Ingabire’s hands was Brenda Namusisi, a client referred by a friend at university. 

“Brenda ordered for cupcakes worth Shs25,000 while another friend; Carol of Trinity Trends gave me my very first birthday cake order (Shs80,000). I am forever grateful for these women because they took a chance on me and that gave me confidence.” Namusisi started buying Ingabire’s cakes after she tasted a sample at a friend’s party. More people who tasted her cakes also ordered and the pay was inspiring.

“I like Ingabire’s cakes because of their freshness and she gives you variety in tastes which is not so monotonous. If it is marble, chocolate or coconut flavoured cakes, there is always a consistency in the taste which makes you yearn for more,” says Namusisi. Namusisi adds that Ingabire’s cakes are worth the money paid.

“She is an easy person to deal with even on short notice, Ingabire will sort you out and she will always get back to you for feedback,” Namusisi adds.

With such faith, Ingabire now better understands the beauty of believing in start-up businesses. 

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A cake on display.

“When you do, you are not only supporting a business but a dream. I was very honest with them that they were my first customers but they still chose me,” she says.

Social media 

Social media played a major role in the start of Dee’s cakes & Mo because she always posted her works. “If I was not posting what I was doing at that moment, they would not have known that I had started this business. So if you are doing business and are not posting on social media, you are missing out on your next customer,” he says.

However, being able to satisfy the varied taste of her customers is different thus Ingabire took some classes to better the skill she learned in her Senior Four and Senior Six vacations. 

“I did a two-month course with Atia Cakes & pastries and this cost me Shs1.2m.” 

She says the classes helped her to become better and learn new trends, recipes and cake decoration but the cherry on the cake was equipping her with confidence in the baking industry. 

“Confidence is important because you know beyond a shadow of doubt that whatever you put out on the market is a good finished product and people can always trust you to deliver to their expectations.” That said, Ingabire emphasises that with baking, every day one learns and unlearns something, the process never stops. 

To further emphasise that, she says that while pricing and costing was part of the units taught in her training, she is still learning. “Initially, I would under cost my products but I have now learned to account for each and everything, from ingredients, utilities, labour and every other thing I might have used in production. This way, I can easily tell whether I am running a profitable business or simply making losses.” 

Referrals 

Her business was marketed by word of mouth. Whatever money she made was reinvested into the business which is based in Najjera-Buwate. Besides referrals, Ingabire says she also still gets her clients through social media. “Honestly, because I bake from home, I don’t rely on walk-in customers.” That said Dee’s cakes & Mo’s clients are people who love yummy and freshly made pastries.

Dee’s cakes and Mo sells themed cupcakes at Shs55,000 for a dozen while normal frosted cupcakes are at the cost of Shs40,000 a dozen. 

“On the other hand, the price of cakes starts at Shs80,000, depending on size, flavours, and design.” Since inception, Ingabire’s biggest sale has been Shs500,000. “This comprised of a birthday cake, themed cupcakes and glazed doughnuts.”

Challenges

One of the most trying things is cake transportation where at times, the cake gets smudged so the client will not be willing to pay yet you have invested in it. “When the delivery person crashes the cake, it totally crushes my heart. More to that, it causes a loss which dips into the profit.”

There are also customers who always want to offer less just because one is new in this space. “We do not use anything cheaper than the rest so it is not right that they expect us to sell ourselves short. Besides, it is only when they support us that our brand will grow as those before us.”

Ingabire looks back on how far she has come with gratitude. However, she wishes someone had told her earlier that it is okay to say no to some orders. “It is okay to say, “No” to some orders, especially when you can’t deliver to avoid doing things haphazardly or to a client who is paying less which might lead you to compromise on the quality of the cake.” She also wishes she knew that it was totally okay not to count on everyone to support her but God. “When you rely on friends and family so much, you can easily give up when they don’t support you. It helps to look without because the moment God planted the business idea in your head, He has lined up your customers out there, some of whom are total strangers.”

Tips for future entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs should start business when they still have support. She says in case one is sure of a salary at the end of the month, he or she should try business.

Never give up. Ingabire adds that people should never fail to keep trying. She says: “When you try this, it fails and then finally you will settle for something which will work out. Once you have studied it and feel it can sustain itself, then resign your salaried job.”

Future

Ingabire looks forward to growth and expansion. “I look forward to expanding to various places in the country. That way, her company will become a household name and create employment for other people too.”



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