Rising incomes in Africa has led to changes in lifestyle that has brought with it business opportunities. With greater spending power, some people are adopting the lifestyle of shopping malls, coffee shops, movie theatres and weekend getaways. How we made it in Africa’s Dinfin Mulupi chats with Renee de Pater, an entrepreneur from the Netherlands that is cashing in on these opportunities in Uganda. De Pater co-founded BBROOD, a Dutch bakery that began operations in Uganda in 2011.
What inspired you to start BBROOD in Uganda?
My mom has been active in Uganda for quite some time due to the foundation ‘Bake for Life’ that she set up. ‘Bake for Life’ is involved in empowering handicapped children with bread baking skills and offering them jobs. It was from this foundation that I went to Kampala in 2008 for my master’s thesis. By then I was not able to find good quality bread in the city. Being a baker’s daughter, I could not understand why no one had thought about setting up a quality bakery in a city as big and vibrant as Kampala. A few years later, we started BBROOD in Uganda.
What makes BBROOD different?
BBROOD is a bakery descending from two traditional baker families from the Netherlands. Naturally, we bake the most delicious bread without additives and with only the best ingredients. Our passion, however, reaches far beyond taste and smell. Indulging the eyes and ears is just as important. BBROOD wants to offer a unique experience through the distinctive way we bake our bread, our astute style, our open bakeries and our experienced staff. At BBROOD our staff is very important. That’s why we train bakers in Holland and we have a Dutch manager to continuously monitor the quality of service.
As a Dutch national, describe your experience in setting up a business in Uganda
It was not easy. However, with the right people at the right place, things moved on. It took us about two years from the first idea to official opening.
Explain some of the challenges you face in running the company?
A continuous challenge is cultural difference. Different cultures have different norms and values and it is never easy to match the two to the exact same level of expectation. In Holland we like to think on a long term basis. In Uganda, most of our staff is of course more occupied with ‘surviving the day’. We want only quality ingredients and quality service, this is not well known. The mindset of all our employees needs continuous tuning towards the goals we want to achieve. This is challenging but also interesting because you really see people growing. Most of them love to work at BBROOD, which is exactly what we want.
What achievements have you made since opening shop in Uganda?
I think one of the most important achievements is that we have positioned ourselves in the Ugandan market. In January 2012 we opened our second branch in Kampala along Ggaba Road and people are really enthusiastic about our service.
Do you have any plans to expand across the region?
We would love to spread across the whole of Africa. In the near future, however, we would like to set up a bakery in Kenya. We are conducting market research right now. We hope to set up faster than the two years it took us in Kampala.
Any advice for Africa’s entrepreneurs?
My advice is that they should find people whom they trust; people who believe in you and show you your weaknesses and strengths. These are the people you should work with.