SHIWOMEHO Kalla (SK), renowned as Shiwa The Baker runs her own bakery specialising in premium bakery delights. She has also distinguished herself as a strong proponent for women empowerment by hosting baking Masterclasses across the country, designed to empower other women with baking skills they can use to start their own businesses to become economically active members of society. Speaking to Confidente’s Marianne Nghidengwa (MN) recently, Shiwomeho explained that while she is passionate about baking, she created a niche with the baking masterclasses to inspire fellow women to be bold and fearless in the pursuit of their dreams and to know that they have everything it takes to become successful. So popular are the baking masterclasses that she attracted the attention of Bokomo Foods Namibia and Moir’s South Africa as sponsors. Below is an excerpt of the interview.
MN: Briefly tell us about yourself, upbringing?
SK: I’m a highly ambitious young woman, one for whom taking over the world doesn’t seem like an unattainable feat. I was born in Oranjemund, a small mining town extreme south-west of the country. I was raised by disciplinarian parents whose sacrifices ensured that my siblings and I were always presented with the best opportunities to be successful in all our pursuits. Growing up, I never quite knew what I wanted to become. However, I knew for sure that I did not want to be poor, that I wanted to be educated and to make my parents proud. That’s why I approach everything I do with tireless diligence, and with the spirit of excellence in mind. I’m currently employed as an Office Manager at an international development bank by day, and I am a student and baker by night. MN: Tell us about the establishment of your bakery and services it offers.
SK: I started my business in February this year. The motive for starting my bakery was a combination of passion, hunger and fear, passion for food, the hunger for success and the fear of being poor. Having just come out of a failed business partnership, establishing this enterprise has by far been the most humbling and trying journey I have ever set out on. Shiwa The Baker is a labour of love, and was a culmination of harnessing my fear to fuel my passion. We offer an array of confectionery treats and cater to private and corporate clients. We also offer baking master classes, in a relaxed, friendly teaching style that encompasses theory, curated demonstration and full hands-on participation, all to ensure a true learning experience.
MN: What triggered your interest in bakery?
SK: I never really set out on being a baker. The industry sort of found me. Searching, without success for someone to bake a cake for a friend’s birthday two years ago sparked what would be an enduring love affair with baking. Every baker that I approached was fully booked. I realized that there was a great demand for cakes, and that there was potential to grow a scalable business in the market, and that’s how Shiwa The Baker was born.
MN: What challenges did you face starting the business and how did you overcome them?
SK: As any entrepreneur would tell y o u , entrepreneurship is not an easy road. This journey has been one riddled with hardship, failure, determination, resilience and sacrifice. I am a young professional, entrepreneur and student. Finding enough time to juggle between the three has been a challenge. Fortunately, I am blessed with the ability to maintain a realistic balance amongst multiple priorities, so I have found a way to make it work.
MN: Tell us about your baking masterclasses? Also, why was it important for you to start offering such classes?
SK: When I made the decision to venture into baking, nobody in the industry was willing to teach me how to bake. I vowed to myself that once I became a master at the craft, I would impart my knowledge boundlessly and that’s the reason why I started the Introduction to Baking Masterclasses Series. I believe in the indomitable spirit of Afreican women. Their spirits are resilient and they can do anything they put their minds to. Given the appropriate skills and space, women can contribute immensely to the economic development of nations and the continent at large. So I started the Masterclasses with the aim of empowering them with the skill of baking. All this, with the hope of encouraging them to be self-reliant, inspiring them to be economically independent, and eventually inciting active participation in various entrepreneurial endeavors.
MN: How do you feel about the past classes and the future?
SK: The response to the Masterclasses has been both overwhelming and equally rewarding. I have had four classes thus far and trained over 50 baking enthusiasts of whom the youngest was nine years old. I’m also fortunate to have the support and backing of Bokomo Namibia and Moir’s South Africa, which has enabled me to extend the Masterclasses to more towns and thus realise my dream of empowering women all over the country. As for the future, the massive response to this Masterclass Series has reaffirmed that there is a definite need for events of this nature, so I’m looking forward to taking the Masterclasses to even the remotest of towns in the country.
MN: Given your experience, what do you think the upcoming baking industry trends will be?
SK: I believe that the industry is growing and trends indicate that personalised cakes are gaining popularity. The driver for the global cake baking market is customised cakes. With continuous innovation from our bakers, this trend is likely to continue and boost the local market too. MN: Do you have any advice for baking enthusiasts (beginners/ intermediate)?
SK: Never underestimate the power of continuous learning. Always grab every opportunity to grow, learn and improve your skills, and when doing so, do so with collective power in mind. There is enough room for all to shine. So always strive to uplift others as you rise. Authenticity is also important. Lots of people think they need to stick to the tried and tested in order to be successful, but sometimes taking the road less travelled actually yields better results. So my advice to them would be to try any different approach and embrace it.
MN: What don’t people know about you?
SK: I can play the base guitar.
MN: Just what do you do for a little fun?
SK: I love to live in the sky. I am an avid traveller so any chance I get, I hop onto a plane and venture onto the next destination.
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