Cake making demands passion, patience to thrive – Young Yasmeen
Text by Latifat Opoola @ LatifatOpoola
If you are thinking about entering the food service industry as a baker, this is a good article for you to read and learn from, as this week, our BIZWIZ shall put us through the necessary to become a professional baker.
Amina Yasmeen Usman who has been baking professionally for about a year now, after series of trainings and classes from several catering schools she enrolled in during her year in NYSC said a good baker usually possesses certain personal characteristics including being organized, being detail oriented, have specific knowledge as well as specialized skills.
The Economics graduate of Al-hikmah University illorin who owns Y_Maxx cakes said she couldn’t remember the specific amount she started her business with as she started off by buying one equipment at a time from her NYSC savings.
“I started November 2014, after my NYSC I started thinking what next? With this unavailability of jobs in the country, I was like why don’t I turn my hobby into a job and that was how it all started, with series of mistakes and trials we kept getting better.
“Cake making isn’t something you get into for the money, or else u will get disappointed. It is about passion and patience, later on you will yield the fruits of your hard labour butut never at the beginning, because thehe more money you make the more you have more ingredients and equipmentpment to buy,” she said.
The 22year old who takeskes every order she receives very importantmportant said if she is not comfortableble with the taste, she cannot sell themhem and therefore she has formed a habit of tasting all the cakes she bakes. es.
She added that social media has helped her in creatingg lots of awareness in her business, includingcluding her family and friends who also get people to trust her productsts even when she wasn’t sure of myself.elf.
Yasmeen said she doesn’t’t have specific target customers because ecause she makes a wide range of cakes, from sugar free, gluten free, egglessl cakes, no butter cakes for those interested.
She advised youths to never let anyone or anything discourage them from attaining their peak stating that with resilience, steadfast prayer and holding onto God, they can be whoever they want to be.
You clinched the Rolex Awards for Enterprise in 2010. What were you doing before then? I was running The Smallholders Foundation. I have been doing so since 2003. I set up the Smallholders farmers’ rural radio network in 2007 with initial support from UNESCO. We have three other programme components: One of them is the Smallholders micro credit, where we distribute N20,000 to N50,000 to them. They use the loans to rent land and pay for labour, buy seeds and fertilizers. We also have a smallholder seed programme where we have given over 7,000 hybrid planting seeds to farmers. We started in Imo State, but have branched out and now operate in Abia, parts of the north-east, southwest of Nigeria. What challenges have you encountered so far? One of them is the lack of understanding of what social entrepreneurship is all about in Nigeria. I am a social entrepreneur and we need money to sustain growth. Smallholder’s foundation is a company limited by guarantee. There is also the challenge of funding - Nigeria is not very good at attracting international donors. In the loans, how do are they able to pay you back? There are so many good farmer cooperatives all around Nigeria. Some of them are organised, but not registered as cooperatives, so we register them as a farmers’ association. For instance, members could nominate ten farmers for the loan while the other ten that did not get it act as guarantors and security.
Since you got the Rolex Award, how has it impacted on what you do?
Apart from some funding, it brought incredible international publicity. Rolex is a very good company. It talks about your work in international media. After the award I received great global media exposure. Some visited the Foundation and our farmer groups and did interviews. We used all these to attract international funding. What inspired you to start the foundation? At a point during my National Youth Service, my boss encouraged me to do something related to agriculture even though I never studied it in the university. So in 2003, after my service year, I created the Foundation, to design and deliver radio educational programmes and improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers in Nigeria. To what extent has that been achieved? More than 250, 000 farmers have signed up to our radio programmes. We deliver radio programmes using our rural radio and release them on FRCN, we also design radio programs specifically for international NGOs. We have done more than 2000 radio programmes over the past twelve years, from tomato cultivation, applying fertilizer to rain water harvesting and identifying live stock diseases.