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Nigerian Master Bread Baker Reaveals How to start Bread baking and Bakery Business In Nigeria From Home Kitchen

My Interview with Mathew Asijie of Success Digest Newspaper

  • How To Get Your Bread And Business Registered By NAFDAC
  • How To Stand Out In The Market Place And Have Orders Pouring In
  • Challenges Of The  Business You Must Know Before Starting And How To Overcome Them
“The basic ingredients in any “Agege Bread” is flour, yeast, salt, and sugar, but this is not the kind of bread we are talking about, we are talking about baking improved special bread with other ingredients that will help you produce food that is nutritious, which means you will need things like butter, or fat and oil, improver, and other specific ingredients that make your bread to taste great and to stand out over others in the market place.” - Henry Omenogor

If a statistic of foods frequently eaten across the country is taken, bread will certainly rank in the first three. Everyone, children and adults, irrespective of tribe and religion eats bread and they enjoy it. In fact, most people eat bread at least once in a week.

By our projection at SD, the rate at which bread is consumed, and the huge population of people that eat it, in the range of millions, makes bread baking business profitable if the baker knows what they are doing.

This was corroborated by Henry Omenogor, an Internet entrepreneur turned bread baker with two years experience running a successful bread baking business in Ghana and Nigeria.
The sweet part of this business is that he does it right from his kitchen, which he calls micro baking. With a small budget of N50,000, Henry reveals in an interview he granted SD recently, how you can start your own bread making business and grow from there. He also discloses how to make your bread unique so that it can stand out in the market place and attract lots of customers.

Read on to get all the juicy information he reveals about making this business idea make good money for you.

What is baking all about and what do I need to start?
Generally, it is about turning flour and other ingredients into a particular product, it could be bread, biscuit, cake, or meat pie, it could be anything. And the truth about baking is that whatever kind of baking you want to face, it’s food that people consume. People eat food everyday in every community in the whole world. That is why baking products are needed in any community you find yourself.

Whether in the village, in the city, or even in the cave, baking products are in hot demand.

Let me say that I am on a subtle revolution and I am going to explain some things about baking. Nigerian graduates and undergraduates for example do not need to always be looking for work. it’s ok  if you want to work and you find a job so that you are able to save up income to start your own business. Formerly, if you walked into a bakery you would see a business that was set up in a three bedroom flat apartment with a very big oven, the bigger the place is the bigger your bakery was perceived. But today, in the 21th century, baking has changed!

Now, all you need to start a bakery is your kitchen and baking pans, and a shop. That’s all, and you can bake bread conveniently for people to eat. That’s what we call micro bakery. What am saying in essence is that you don’t need large space to start a bakery business.

Let us assume you have a store for the baking, the next thing you need is capital. When I talk of capital here, I’m not talking about money; I’m talking about your skill. Most people make the mistake of saying, “I don’t have money and that is why I am not in business, or that is why the business is not growing”. The skill is very important; it is the skill that will meet with opportunity.

Baking skill is the very first thing to have. You need to learn the trade - learn how to bake. You may say, “Don’t you need money to learn how to bake?” Yes you may need money to do that, but don’t forget that money is not everything. It is also possible to acquire the needed training without paying for it.

You could approach a baker, that is, you visit a bakery close by, ask that you want to work for them for free even if they didn’t advertize that they needed workers - offer your service for free to get the baking knowledge that you need.

The second thing is that you don’t think about the money to start the business because the law of attraction will just play out itself. Once you have learnt the skill, the money will also come. But if we have to even put a figure on it, you may not even need up to N90, 000 to start a bread baking business.

The basic ingredients in any Agege bread is flour, yeast, salt, and sugar, but this is not the kind of bread we are talking about, we are talking about baking improved special bread with other ingredients that will help you produce food that is nutritious, which means you will need things like butter, or fat and oil, improver, and other specific ingredients that make your bread to taste great and to stand out over others in the market place.

Types of bread
We have three types of bread; the first is the Agege bread. The Agege bread is the type you see almost everywhere without label. Even if it was produced in Mushin area of Lagos State it will still be called Agege Bread. It has less or no nutritional value; people can easily afford it because it is cheap.

The second type is the Special bread, which has more nutritional value and sold at affordable price. It contains ingredients like milk, sometimes fruits, and jam to make it very rich to eat.

The third type is called the Lifestyle bread or wheat bread. This type is usually very expensive for low income earners to afford. It is therefore mainly for the higher class people.

As a baker, you can specialize on any of the three types. However, for the sake of quality, and if you are concerned about running a business that you are proud to introduce to your friends, you should go for bread that has food value and not just any kind of bread.

Starting your bread production without owning an oven
Once you have the skill and you are able to buy the ingredients to make the bread, you don’t even need to wait till you get the oven; you can bake your bread without having your own oven.

This is a discovery that most people don’t even know about. If the entire budget you have is about N40-N50, 000, I tell you, you can do this business. Oven cannot be your challenge for starting, there are basic secret methods, and I mean proven methods that you can apply to bake without having your own oven.

If I don’t need an oven to start bread baking business, how then do I get the oven that bakes the bread?
You can actually rent an oven from established bakeries. Some of them will be glad to rent it to you at the time they are not using it for their own production. You will negotiate with them on the fees to pay.

For people who have the money to buy their own oven when starting a micro bread baking business factory, the kind of oven you will need to produce bread from one bag of flour a day will cost about N50, 000, even with N30, 000, you can get a locally produced oven that can work efficiently. I recommend locally fabricated ovens because I am a proponent of indigenous products.

They are fabricated here in Nigeria, they are everywhere, you can walk into any factory where they fabricate ovens, tell them your standard, and give them the shape of your pan and they will produce the oven to suit your pan, this is the unique thing about indigenous fabricators, they will build your oven according to the shape of your pan, you don’t have to start struggling with pan fitting into the oven.

Don’t forget we are talking about being unique, if you have a long pan and the oven you have is not able to accommodate the pan, it will amount to fruitlessness.

How much can you make baking one bag of flour?
It will cost about N11, 000 to bake one bag of flour and you will be making N22, 000 from the sales of that one bag. With strong marketing strategy, if you succeed in baking 2 bags a day and sell all the loaves you have made, you will eventually be making N22, 000 a day.

But to be frank with you, you may not get this N22, 000 the very first day you come to the market because people don’t know you yet. You will first have to warm your way to consumers’ hearts before they will start buying from you.

How did you go about marketing your bread at the start?
Let me share with you what I did. When I have done all I needed to do in terms of informing those close to me of my intention to produce bread and to be on the lookout for my bread, after I did my first production, I gave out most of the bread as samples for people to taste and note the quality.

With the rejection of starting something new and people telling me that I can’t do bread business the way I have planned to do it, that it will not sell, that people will not buy such bread, I still went ahead to produce it, but I didn’t start selling immediately, I gave out almost all the bread that I produced as sample for people to taste.

That was what I did and you too can do the same. I tell people “You can sell anything if you are not selfish”. You must allow the people to confirm what you are introducing to the market. If you are marketing other people’s products that have been in the market for a while, it would be a different thing compare to a new product that you called Special, because bread is everywhere. Why will I dump the one I’m used to buying for yours that is just new in the market?

If you make provision for sample taste and you keep to the quality they have tasted, they will start to bombard you with calls of orders.

Calls will start to come for you to supply. Now this is what you can also do to really capture the market in your area. When you go for supply, don’t go because you want to just sell and get your money, think of building a business relationship with the clients that will even last more than your own life span. So, don’t look at the business for the now, look at the future.

The challenge with some people that start business or even this bread business is that they produce to start selling and once people refuse to buy their bread, they will get discouraged, and before you know it they have folded up the business. You don’t need to stop the business; you can ask questions on how to improve on your product. Know that you are not the one consuming the bread, what the consumer wants is what you have to produce.

In marketing, when you are prospecting to a customer, the first thing you need to do is to give him your own product to taste, and when he’s done you are to listen to his criticisms, allow him to tell you what he feels about the product and do not feel bad if he tells you any negative thing. If you say that because your product has been rejected, you are going to close the business, then you don’t have any business doing business.

So, the first thing you need to do is to go to the market place and identify within your community what they want. Some people like the Agege type of bread, while others like the special kind of bread and some still like the porch kind of bread. It is then up to you to produce what you want to sell once you have identify the customers you want to sell to - produce your product according to the choice of those customers.

Now, let me tell you a secret. A time is coming when people will start to produce bread for diabetic patients, bread strictly for elderly people who are very choosy about what they eat, I tell you, if you focus only on that, believe me you can make a lot of money.

Another thing to bear in mind in marketing this special bread is that you have to be unique. You don’t pick a product that is already in the market and say you want to product exactly like that product, no, you must be very unique, your taste must be unique, your shape must be unique, your design must be unique, and your marketing style must be unique. If you can do all of these, you are sure to take part in the share of the market.

How do I get the bread registered and the business licensed by NAFDAC?
NAFDAC is not against bread baking if you know what you are doing, NAFDAC is actually encouraging people to go into small scale business, it’s just that Nigerians are too fearful when it comes to issues like this, even when you have started baking and you push it into the market, it is not a problem, what NAFDAC will do is to pick up your product and ask you to register the product, they won’t arrest you because they don’t want to discourage you, but if you are producing fake products, that becomes an issue.

Please note that we are not talking about producing fake bread here, we are talking about producing good quality special bread that nobody will want to resist when they bite it. NAFDAC is only saying do your things right.

The issue is this, start a business first, but if you are scared of starting then fear will actually cripple your business. The fear of starting has actually killed a lot of business ideas. Personally, I failed when I was starting out because I was trying to follow other people’s recipe. I was trying to be like the person who taught me, and I failed until I decided to do it on my own, that was when I got it right.

There is what is called fail forward, when you start any business you must fail forward. How? You will start learning as you are failing and this is what makes you to become an expert, for bread business in Nigeria, it is a very lucrative business.

How lucrative is bread business?
Most people don’t have business doing business in Lagos to be honest. What they should be doing is to learn how to make bread, do it for a period of time, relocate back to their village or to a new settlement where the people still depend on bread from the city, or where the demand for bread is higher and start their bakery business. and the beauty of this business is that your children will just learn automatically from you and it becomes a trans generational business.

How do you go about mixing the ingredients, doesn’t your mixture determine the quality you produce?
The mixing is called kneading. You don’t need sophisticated tools or equipment to do your kneading, we are talking of a micro bread production , you can do a manual mixing in a big bowl, you can do half or one bag, you can use the normal flour mixer that is everywhere or hand mixer.

Don’t forget, the bread you are producing is also called artisan bread because you are using natural things. In the absence of a milling machine which most of the big-time bakers have, there are other alternatives, some of which I have already mentioned.

What have been your major challenges and how have you been able to overcome them?
The very first challenge I had when I wanted to start was people telling me that I can’t put the ingredient I want to put in my own kind of bread either they are ignorant of it or they think I cannot make my money out of it, but I insisted I was going to produce something that can be eaten as food and not just any kind of bread, with all the good things that makes a good meal in bread.

Mine was not just to do business for now, but for the future and I’m trying to sell a name, the name of my bread is called VIP, which stands for very important person, that is branding for me, because when I came into the country to establish this bread business, all I was seeing in my neighborhood was the same Agege bread and each time I go to supply, they keep telling me what my bread is not and what I should make it to be, until I was able to convince them to taste it, then sell it, today that bread has gained acceptance in my area.

Another issue is how do I start this new idea in this dangerous terrain? People say that once you bring a new business or novel business idea into the Nigerian market they will kill it. That’s rubbish, I heard it, people told me all of that, but I never mind them. So if you don’t know exactly why you are in business, or why you want to set up a particular business, you will be deceived by that lie of the devil, so watch it.

Now, I should sound this warning, note that not everybody will like your bread. Once you produce, you will begin to hear different advice. Some will tell you, “We want more sugar”, and they will be telling you different things to do, so much that if you are not focused on what you are doing you will soon be frustrated out of the market.

Another thing is in the marketing of the product. Most of the people when I started out bought my bread on credit and did not eventually pay for it. I started out targeting the very low income earners as customers. This people, after they have been satisfied with the quality of my bread will buy the bread and tell me they will pay later, but some didn’t pay eventually.

But this was part of the price and lesson I had to pay for what I wanted to do. I use a formula that is called inverse paranoid to handle the criticisms that I get. A paranoid is someone who believes that whatever criticism or rejection that he gets from the market place is meant to cripple him and the business, but inverse paranoid is someone who believes that the criticism and rejection from the market place is just a booster to keep doing what he knows best until the market accepts what he has to offer.

I was never bordered about the negative things I got from the market, it was just a push for me, I was never down, it gave me the belief that it is part of what God has arranged for me to do, to push me further up. So, if you want to run a business of this nature or any other type of business, you must become an inverse paranoid, that is the only way to stay focused on the major goal.

You are going to be rejected; you are going to be mocked, even by members of your family, friends, and colleague. Some will wonder why you have to leave what you were doing before to bread baking. They will think you have lost your senses, that you are not focused, but as long as you have a goal, a dream you can die for, it is just a matter of time, they will come and celebrate with you.

And until you have a dream you are ready to die for, you are not worth living.

Now, the story has changed, I get some calls at midnight placing for orders, and that is when I tell myself, yes, you have gotten there, you cannot be rejected again.

With the hundreds or even thousands of bread that are produced in Nigeria, why should I start another bread baking business?
There are two types of people producing bread, the literate and the illiterate. The illiterate are not ready to change from the way they know how to produce bread 25years ago. They believe it just has to remain like that without any kind of improvement. They are the ones that will tell you never to add milk, and don’t add ascorbic acid to bread production.

And you know, the recipe of bread is based on the information you have and practice. Everyone of us has tasted the different types of Egusi soup our mothers cooked for us. You cannot tell me that my mother’s way of cooking Egusi will be the same way your own mother will cook it. It’s  the same Egusi, but there must be different ingredients added and different approaches.

But the mother who does not know how to cook will never border to open a restaurant because nobody will buy from her. If your bread is unique it will stand out in the market place even if there are already one thousand different bread products there.

For instance, what makes my bread different is this: I do breaded bread; this is our most sold bread because the look is unique. I do Ghana rolls; the rolls are very profitable more than any other type of bread. This breaded bread is actually called Challah, then I do banquet, French bread, the long type of bread that is seen in very few areas around the country.

We have to do this French bread more because we discovered that the moment people saw it they remembered how they had eaten it a long time ago and later didn’t see it again. We tell them we have brought it back to the market.  These also make our line of bread unique in the market. In fact, till date, I still research on daily basis for fresh and best bread I should give out.

Most people don’t know that there is sugar bread, butter bread, all they know is just the shape to say it is bread, but we do all of these bread, I have done jam bread and its very sweet, but the shelf life is very short, so we don’t do it on regular basis unless by order. I also do the popular Ghana bread, which can last for up to 8days, we can also make some of our bread without preservatives, using natural ingredients, like the French rolls, which can even last longer than 10days, but we add some preservatives to the others.

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