From her kitchen to you

Shiwomeho Kalla, the owner of Shiwa The Baker, has managed to train 218 bakers through her masterclasses.
Michelline Nawatises
Justicia Shipena

Shiwomeho Kalla is a highly ambitious young woman.

She is resolute in her resolve to build, transform and inspire. In August she launched a Shiwa The Baker bakery shop in Oshakati.

Speaking to Careers Kalla said she came into baking industry without any support or mentorship, which prompted the idea of the introducing baking masterclasses.

“The baking industry is presently facing a generational shift. Gone are the days when seasoned bakers would willingly help aspiring bakers write that business card and take steps towards achieving success,” she said.

These days established bakers refuse to play an active role in the professional development of new bakers, she added.

Additionally, there is a lack of knowledge and skills in the baking industry and the few that have the expertise are not willing to capacitate others.

Kalla added they either site time as a constraint or do not feel comfortable training their ‘competition’.

“Hosting the masterclasses is my way of paying it forward, by affording others an opportunity that I never had.”

Kalla’s first masterclass took place in 2017 and the experience as the set tone for the rest of her series.

Kalla has so far managed to train 218 bakers.

She said they have set a new standard of engagement across multiple domains to provide women with a platform to learn, and equip them with tools to better build communities and develop new ways of creating self-sustaining businesses.

“The aim was to create a movement of empowered women. With over 200 women trained, it is mission accomplished. My aim is to double this number in the next two years,” she said.

Kalla approaches everything she does with tireless diligence and with a spirit of excellence.

She said having the backing of the biggest baking brand in southern Africa, Bokomo, has been a privilege and their support has enabled her to extend the masterclasses to more towns.

She said the best thing about hosting a baking masterclass is the connections she makes with the trainees, and getting the chance to capture their personalities and background, including the struggles and perseverance of these women.

“Baking helps women to reconnect with themselves and gain a sense of sisterhood with others. I always leave each class physically drained, but emotionally fuelled and encouraged to host another one,” she said.

The masterclasses business model challenges established standards and practices.

It is designed to give support, and to transfer critical skills in a short timeframe right to the client’s doorsteps and at the right time.

She achieves the right results, all at a competitive price. Keeping her costs at a minimum is extremely challenging.

Ndapanda Shiyagaya (13), who lives in Ongwediva and is the owner of Karolina’s bakery, attended the introductory baking masterclass in April last year and described it as an amazing experience.

Growing up, Shiyagaya was always business-minded and has been in the baking industry since she was nine years old.

“With my love of baking and entrepreneurship combined, I started baking at home, using my own recipes and some ideas I got off the internet. I started by baking cakes and cupcakes for my relatives.”

Shiyagaya said the first time she saw Shiwa The Baker’s creations she was blown away and admired her craft, thus she joined her masterclass to learn from Kalla.

Shiyagaya plans to have a bakery as snug and successful as Carlo’s bakery, owned by Buddy Valastro, as he is her inspiration.

Additionally she would like to have different branches countrywide, build an international brand and create employment for others.

“I have to divide my time well in order to pay attention to both my business and school, so that I do not neglect my schoolwork. As much as I love baking, I also want to fulfill my career dreams.”

Rauna Nambahu and Stage Nambahu, the owners of Raunage bakery in Ongwediva, said through referrals they got to know about the masterclasses and were eager to learn more about pastry.

“The drive and energy in Kalla during the masterclass just gave us hope and courage to start our own business. It was so inspiring… hearing some testimonies of those who attended the masterclass before.”

Raunage’s goal is creating a well-established bakery that can plough back into the community, creating job opportunities and contribute towards the socio-economic development of Namibia.

Shiwa The Baker accomplishments in 2019

1. Launched a bakery boutique (shop) in Oshakati in August 2019. The shop retails baking products and equipment that were not available in the north before.

2. She baked the official cake for this year’s Independence Day celebrations.

3. She baked the official birthday cake for President Hage Geingob.

4. She made it into the top 15 in the Startupper of the Year by Total Challenge (Namibia). This is an international competition hosted in 55 countries around the world, which awards start-ups who are contributing to the overall economic well-being of the communities they live in. The start-ups were judged on innovation, competitiveness, growth and job-creation.

5. She won third place in the SME Compete Pitching 4 Business Funding Competition.

6. She baked the massive cake for Wing It restaurant’s first birthday.