• Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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Barbara Ndugbu: Entrepreneur with passion for creating beautiful cakes

Barbara Ndugbu

Special occasions and events deserve special treats, especially with personalised cakes. This is where Barbara Ndugbu, founder and chief executive officer of Oven Secret Limited comes to the rescue.

Barbara creates beautiful cakes for clients that want to celebrate their birthdays, weddings, and graduations or mark special occasions in their lives.

The engineer-turned-entrepreneur was inspired to establish Oven Secret in 2015 owing to her inability to secure a well-paying job that matched her qualifications.

Her desire to be financially independent and passion for cake-making also inspired her to set up the business.

The young entrepreneur took up training in baking and decoration to enhance her skills.

“I have always wanted to be independent, so centering on my love for the art of catering, I decided to attend cake training institute in the UK,” she says.

Barbara says her initial start-up capital was from her savings. “My initial start-up capital was from my savings— my monthly stipend during my master’s degree program,” she says.

Since its establishment, Oven Secret has emerged as one of the leading cake and confectionery firms in Lagos metropolitan.

“Since the launch of my business in 2015, it has grown tremendously,” Barbara says.

“From taking orders from only family and friends, I now service about 45 orders a month, and I have trained over 500 people and motivated some to start their businesses,” the young entrepreneur says.

She has leveraged social media platforms to grow her business. “I took advantage of social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to gain media presence that boosted followership, engagement, and sales,” she further says.

The entrepreneur currently has seven full-time employees.

She notes that her business plans to acquire a larger workspace and train more students in the art of baking and decoration in the short run.

Also, the business plans to increase its product line as orders from clients continue to grow.

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She says the COVID-19 pandemic has affected her business negatively as it has caused a drop in sales owing to the shut-down of event centers and restrictions on large gatherings.

Similarly, the recent surge in the prices of inputs for baking has also affected the business.

The business has resorted to virtual training for students interested in learning the art of baking and aggressive marketing of its small-sized cakes to survive the difficult moment of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We aggressively advertised and marketed smaller products which were in higher demand and also substituted highly-priced raw materials with less expensive ones while maintaining the quality of products,” she explains.

“During the lockdown, we retained only three private delivery personnel to handle all our cake deliveries within Lagos,” she discloses.

She says her business has not got any form of palliative from the government despite operating in an industry that has been badly hit by the virus outbreak.

In evaluating the catering and confectionary industry, she says that the industry has become very competitive and saturated as six in every 10 entrepreneurs want to delve into the catering business.

Speaking on the challenges confronting the business, she says finding the right employees and retaining them remains a big problem in the industry.

She adds that inadequate access to finance is also another major challenge.

Barbara urges the government to provide adequate access to loans, grants, and support for small businesses in the country.

She also calls for the creation of schools for skills acquisition centres across the country, while reducing multiple taxes levied on small businesses.

In 2019, Barbara was listed as one of the Forbes Africa 120 game-changers. She is seen as one of the most successful under-30 female entrepreneurs in Nigeria.

On her advice to other entrepreneurs, she says, “Have solid business plans, prepare for financial challenges, be frugal, remember you are a start-up and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

“Build a team that shares the same vision as you. The structure is the most important aspect of your business. Challenge yourself, take the risk, have a vision, know your customer, learn from complaints and ask for feedback,” she advises.