Starting a bakery: An entrepreneur’s experience

One of the things that drew Jean Pierre Mugwaneza to the pastry profession was a knack for creativity that he wanted to share with the world.

“I have always loved baking, it’s something that I have always been passionate about, that’s why I decided to pursue it as my profession,” he says.

 

Baking is more than whipping up recipes in the kitchen for the 30-year-old, and, he says, he takes pride in serving people through the food industry. 

 

 

Jean Pierre Mugwaneza, proprietor of Petersbakers.

It was because of this that he took his passion and turned it into a business in September last year, when he opened up Petersbakers - a bakery that has within months turned into a household name in the world of baking.

At the bakery, they make cakes, bread, cupcakes but they also offer other products such as fast food and soft drinks.

Mugwaneza says for the time he has spent running this business, he has learnt that passion alone cannot suffice. 

“You need the skills, network and money,” he says, adding that even those with plans of venturing into a similar business need to understand these requirements.

“If you want to run a successful bakery business, on top of your passion, you need to have the skills and that means you need training. You also need to be creative and be ready to invest and most importantly focus on serving people first and not the money,” he says.

His vision 

Mugwaneza studied food production and hospitality at University of Tourism, Technology and Business Studies (UTB), and when he set out to start up this business, he had a vision of becoming the bridge for implementation of the professional baking trade and provide the centre for relative knowledge in Africa.

Nonetheless, this is still a challenge because of certain limitations like financial constraints. He came to discover that whereas people appreciate baked products, they are not willing to spend that much on them.

“People want delicious and quality cakes but they want all that at lower prices,” he says. 

The businessman has dreams of equipping people with baking skills. Courtesy photos

Competition on the other hand hasn’t made his entrepreneurial journey a smooth one, but he looks on the bright side, reasoning that having such tight competition has encouraged him to be more creative and maintain the quality of his products.

“Competition is an opportunity for our growth. To manage it, however, we use techniques such as doing our best to satisfy our customers to a maximum level.  We also offer customers high quality cakes with a quirky and fun approach. We do this by making visually attractive cakes which have unusual flavours,” the baker reveals.

He says he has also managed to stay afloat by ensuring proper hygiene, “we maintain appropriate hygiene by ensuring that equipment meets health and safety regulations.”

Skills training 

As a skilled professional, Mugwaneza has dreams of equipping people with baking skills so as to expand the market in a professional way.

He is doing this by offering professional baking training at his bakery to increase people’s ability and skills.

“We provide short term professional training through baking science and technology, we offer an intensive 16-week course recognised in the country and in East Africa. We are highly focusing on the professional training in order to contribute to the sustainability and professionalism in the food field.”

What’s next?

Mugwaneza highlights that he plans on doing his best in terms of expanding the baking industry.

With this, he plans on introducing food festivals in the country, “We are doing our level best to introduce food festivals as people in the food industry here in Rwanda, where people shall benefit and enjoy delicious local and other cuisines from around the world.”

During such festivals he plans on bringing together as many food and cake vendors as possible in the spirit of promoting what they do.

Among his other future plans, the entrepreneur hopes to reinforce his presence in the baking business.

“We are planning to be the number one baking industry in Africa through offering of quality products, serving as many people as we can with quality customer care, and also continue providing great contribution to the expansion of the baking industry by carrying on with our professional baking trainings.”

dmbabazi@newtimesrwanda.com

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