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Giving birth to premature baby inspired Mary Nankinga to start baking business

Mary Nankinga Kawuki is the founder of CAIM Bakery, a startup she conceived after giving birth to a premature baby.

Mary Nankinga Kawuki showing off a cake she made

The name Caim is an acronym of the first names of her four kids: Caleb, Armani, Ivannah and Missi (who unfortunately passed).

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Below is the story of how she started and the journey so far.

Tell us a little about you

My name is Mary Nankinga Kawuki. I'm a baker by profession and I'm very passionate about baking.

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What inspired you to get into baking?

I was very much inspired by the fact that I love to earn an income.

But most of all, the inspiration was drawn from when I decided to be a stay-at-home mum. I became a stay-at-home mum because we had given birth to a premature baby. There wasn't a way I could continue my career and yet I had a baby to nurse.

So, that's what mostly inspired me into the baking industry.

Do you do baking as a full-time job?

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At the moment I'm doing it a full-time job though I'm open to job opportunities.

What did you invest when you were starting?

What I invested in most was getting a tutor to teach me while I was nursing my baby. We bought a mixer of about five litres and the other stuff that's needed to get the cake ready.

What other products do you make?

We make cakes majorly and cookies. We make several other things but the main focus is on cake and cookies.

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We do a wider range of cakes -- wedding cakes, cultural cakes, birthday cakes, name it.

How do you get customers?

The major one has been through referrals from people who love our products. To a small extent, we also rely on social media.

How do you balance the business and taking care of your kids?

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I have three children. And I've been able to manage through planning, especially if orders come in on time.

What are some of the challenges you've faced?

Clients that don't make timely payments. It bogs down the business. Sometimes this is done by your regular clients. Those you trust. Along the way, the trust is abused.

The other challenge has been the weather since most of our deliveries are done by Boda men. So, when it rains, the cake ain't delivered on time.

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Fluctuation in the prices of ingredients is also a challenge since you don't want to inform the client that they'll have to pay more after you've already agreed on a price.

For how long have you been doing this?

Five years. The first two were for learning.

What have been your biggest highlights?

One of the biggest highlights has been working with Absa Bank to train girls in Wakisa Ministries. [The organisation supports girls that have suffered unwanted pregnancies.]

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That was a good opportunity.

The other highlight has been working with Pulse Uganda. [She baked the cake for the Pulse Influencer Awards 2023.]

It's a good platform, really.

What are some of the things you'd avoid if you were to start afresh?

I would refrain from not bookkeeping. Bookkeeping is paramount.

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Do you think it's possible to run a business without being fully involved?

Not at all. It is paramount for the brain or the person behind a business to be fully involved in it. It's the only way you can figure out things that can enable you to go places.

And the fact that you hold the vision, you got to be in it for it to go places.

At what point do you think someone can delegate business to their staff without day-to-day involvement?

It's important to have someone you've trained because you may find yourself unable to work and your business has to work.

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Train someone so that in case of anything your business is not at a standstill.

Any advice to someone entering the baking business?

Do not first focus on profit. [She noted that in the first years of business, you'll find yourself reinvesting all the money you make without paying yourself.]

Secondly, be passionate. Passion is what leads us into doing what we do.

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Be humble. Be kind.

JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!

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Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or:

Email: news@pulse.ug

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