40 Days of Developing my Family’s Business – Introduction

cake palaceMy family, called Mwambo, is a world of seven; Dad, mom, my two sisters, my two brothers, and me. Situated in center of Lilongwe city, we are a happy and very industrious team. After so many economic adventures, my family’s main source of income is a small scale bakery in Lilongwe town. Our economic growth is collective, while we the children still chase our careers and dreams in various schools.

For the curious, you want to know where we started from, how we started and where our plans are taking us.

My parents have a long history of small scale businesses. They have been in fish business, restaurants, itinerant distribution of sausages, itinerant vending of jewelries, and many more. However, after years of inventing and modifying recipes, muffins and cup cakes have become the longest serving products in Mwambo business ventures. Long enough for 3, of five children, to grow old enough to participate in the businesses.

But how exactly, and when, did the Mwamboes land on a bakery venture.

As Mwambo family has always been adventurous, my mother would try frying some meat pies for sale to nearby schools. By then, 2007-2009, we were in Chimwankhunda, a small county in Blantyre, Malawi. Our house was less than one hundred yards from Joyce Banda Foundation School, one of the best schools in Blantyre. Thanks to the proximity, the school was our biggest meat pie customer (buying 70 to 100 meat pies per weekday). With two other schools buying our meat pies, the venture looked promising. To make the venture more reliable, my mother increased the distribution space to groceries in our neighborhood.

The profits from meat pies would later be my biggest source of school fees in my primary school, at Maranatha primary school, in Soche East. Not only me, but also my two other siblings in lower primary school.

After my father was conviced that cookery could be the backbone of Mwambo family’s economy, he started learning how make banana cakes, thanks to a Philippine family friend, Suzanne States, who taught him. Couple of days later, my parents bought a small second hand oven for cakes. Gradually, we could have multiple products; banana cakes, baked meat pies, and samosa.

Months later, my parents bought a bigger second hand oven, to satisfy the growing demand of banana cakes. They even invented a cake, now called Fortune cake, to increase the number of products. As expected, demand of cakes increased, thereby forcing my parents to get a helper in supplying cakes, and buying one more second hand oven. Gradually, over 8 years, the business was forced to shift into Lilongwe town, in order to minimize transportation costs of raw materials, while also making the business easily accessed by customers.

Currently, the business is in Lilongwe town, along Malangalanga road. It is called Cake Palace. The bakery/confectionary has more than ten products . Furthermore, cake palace also has 10 employees, and six commercial machinery for production.

Although Cake Palace has gone a long way, she is still miles away from stabilizing. Currently, the first and foremost priority of Cake Palace is obtaining all necessary certification for operation. Among five primary ones, she still has one, which is also the most important, Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS), incomplete. Furthermore, management has become so uncontrollable because there are so many people involved in operations, and so many steps of operations needed.

This series of blogs shall capture what Cake Palace is doing to walk towards a stable business. While, I (preferably called “Masa”) am part of managers of Cake Palace, I will be briefly describing my contributions towards a well-managed Cake Palace (with at least a picture per day!).

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