Who says you can’t eat your cake and have it?
Join us Today on TEF Alumni Corner, as we speak with a TEF entrepreneur from Kenya, Betty Rejay Kariuki, who’s a refined baker and business Enthusiast.
Q: Can you tell us about your business?
A: The name of my business is Benita Cakes. It is located in a small town called Kakamega in the western region here in Kenya. We are known for making all types of cakes and in various flavours for events like Birthdays, Weddings and Anniversaries.
Q: What inspired your business and how old is it now?
A: I was once a client and I needed a cake for an event that was so special to me. I placed an order and when I got the cake, it was far from what I expected. Infact, it was just terrible and so I decided to learn how to bake so I could make better quality cakes. Benita cakes is now 3 years old.
Q: What makes your business stand out from all other businesses within your niche industry?
A: Our cakes are freshly baked on demand and are mostly baked based on customers’ preference in terms of Type, Size, Flavour and Designs.
Q: When did you become a Tony Elumelu entrepreneur and how has it helped your business?
A: I applied for the grant in 2020 and revalidated the application in 2021, that was when I became a TEF Entrepreneur. It has helped me in such a great way. To be honest, it gave my business a new beginning. I used to bake my cakes from my home and had a spot in town where my clients could come pick up their cakes but thanks to Tony Elumelu and the Tony Elumelu Foundation, I now have a cake shop where I bake these cakes and have my clients come take a seat to enjoy their cakes. I was also able to upgrade my equipment to a big oven and a commercial mixer. Ordinarily, I would not be able to afford this so I am really grateful to TEF for giving me a chance.
Q: How many steps ahead would you say the TEF seed funding helped you get to?
A: I would say six (6) steps ahead and that’s above average because the TEF seed fund has helped me a lot.
Q: What are some of the challenges you face as an entrepreneur in your operational environment?
A: We have noticed a continuous increase in costs of raw materials and it has become a daily trend as today’s price is not tomorrow’s price. The current inflation rate has also made the cost of living so high and in return, these challenges make us increase the prices of our cakes because we cannot compromise on the quality of our cakes. But if we keep increasing the prices of our cakes, we believe we might scare off our customers. One major challenge we also face is Over-taxation. Small businesses here in Kenya are taxed heavily.
Q: What are some of the solutions you might suggest to help solve these challenges?
A: We are working on ways to reduce our cost of production and surplus business expenses. We introduced bulk buying so we can get discounts from the wholesalers and we also introduced new snacks called ”cakepops” and “cakesicles” which are made from leftover cake cuttings. We also need better leadership as it is election year. So, we need leaders who will make better fiscal decisions to review the current policies on small businesses in Kenya.
Q: As you know, the core of the TEF entrepreneurship programme is to promote Africapitalism, how has your business been able to make an impact in that light?
A: Africapitalism being the philosophy of creating economic and social prosperity on the continent by investing in the private sector and SMEs has been a part of my business as I have created employment opportunities for over 10 youths here in Kenya through which they have been able to afford better lives for themselves. Also, the businesses that supply to me have been able to double their sales in less than 6 months and this makes for a positive light in the growth of the private sector. So far, this the impact I have made through the lens of Africapitalism.
Q: If you had a chance to start your entrepreneurship journey all over again, what would you do differently?
A: With the knowledge that I got from the TEF mentorship and entrepreneurship programme on how to run a successful business, I would definitely do better and avoid mistakes that I made in the beginning of my journey as an entrepreneur.
Social media handles: @BenitaCakes (Facebook and Instagram)
~ Author: Derek Nwankwo