Bakery for streetchildren in Uganda
My name is Laura Beljaars and I’m a teacher and volunteer at Child Restoration Outreach in Lira, Uganda. Child Restoration Outreach, or CRO, is an organization for street children in Lira and surrounding districts in Northern Uganda. Because of poverty, domestic violence and the long war against the LRA of Joseph Kony, Northern Uganda struggles with a large amount of children who don’t have a home. CRO gives them food, psychological help and education. But most of all, CRO gives them love. At CRO, children are treated the way they deserve to be treated: with love, understanding and respect.
Up until now, CRO has been fully dependent on sponsors. But I’ve noticed that sometimes sponsor money comes in late and there is no money for food, school fees, power etc. Because of this, children are sent home from school, there is no power at the center and, most importantly, there is no guarantee that there is food for the children every day. On days without food, children have to go back on the street and look for their own money or food. Bringing them back to where they came from.
I believe that this should never ever happen and that’s why CRO Lira and I came up with a plan to earn a bit of money, so we are not fully dependent on sponsors anymore and we can always provide food and other basic needs for the children.
This is our plan: with the skills there are within the CRO staff, we want to start a bakery, as there is much need for fresh bread and cakes in Lira. Supermarkets are desperate for new suppliers.
The beauty of the plan is that CRO will not only use this business to earn money for basic needs for the children, but will also provide classes for the children, so they can learn the skills to bake bread and cakes. Later in life, they can use these skills to earn their own money and be independent.
To start the bakery, we need an oven that’s big enough to bake a substantial amount of cakes and bread and with that, we also need baking trays and other suppliants to make the bakery profitable and sustainable.
I want to ask you for a little donation, so CRO can take care of and feed the children on the streets of Lira, Uganda. These children deserve a beautiful future and I truly hope you will help us to help them get there.
Thank you very much.
On behalf of CRO Lira,
Volunteer and teacher (The Netherlands)
At March 21th we opened the bakery and now we are working round the clock to make is a good running and profitable bakery. We are selling really well to supermarkets and especially our cakes are really well received. Our cookies are all Dutch recipes and people are still a little scared to buy them, but once they taste, they keep on buying! When it comes to cakes and cookies, we make good profit, about 30-50%, depending on the recipe.
Our bread is also of a very good quality, but quality comes with a price and bread in Lira is really cheap, mainly because it's really bad. We discovered we can't sell for the same prices, because this would mean we make a loss. Once people get to know our quality, they will buy, but it takes longer than the cakes and cookies.
Of course we also run into a few problems, because starting a business is hard! We bought a very, very, very amazing cake mixer of the funds donated, and we are very happy with it. But, we hoped we could also buy a bread slicer, since there are no breadknives in Uganda, but the price of the cake mixer was higher than anticipated, so we still have this left to buy.
Also, we have a problem with distribution, since the CRO car broke down and we can only use one motorbike, which is also used by the rest of the organization. This is a big problem, because we can bake all we want, but if we can't distribute, we can't sell and can't make money! There are really nice motorbikes with a big loading part in the back, so it would be really good (and sustainable) if we could buy this, solely for the bakery.
We are saving up really hard so we can buy these things our self, but we wanted to let you know, so if there is anyone who wants to donate whatever little they can miss, it would be of big help to us! We (the bakery) will personally save up the rest of the money because we know that the sooner we have these things, the sooner we can start paying some school fees!
We’ve had some difficulties, but I think that’s normal if you want to start your own business, especially when you want to start your own business in Africa. There are two mean things we’ve been dealing with:
- We still don’t have an oven and we have troubles getting one (luckily we are getting closer).
- Some things turned out to be more expensive than we thought.
Let me first explain the oven. We ordered the oven at the start of November and we were told we would have it no later than November 7th. We waited and waited and waited, but the guy didn’t come. I kept on calling him but he didn’t pick up his phone, until I finally reached him and he told me he was going to be here the next week (that’s now three weeks ago). This happened a couple of times and to this moment, we still haven’t seen him. He told us he had some problems getting the material and he had to look for money to pay his builders, since we only paid half the price for now.
But last week, we came to know that the ovenbox (which is the most costly part of the oven, and can only be made from Kampala) was already in Lira, he dropped it of at a school. And then yesterday, the impossible happened: he called me! He told me he is going to be here this Thursday (tomorrow) and I explained that we needed some insurance, since there’s no real reason to trust him anymore. He gave me the location of the ovenbox and immediately after talking to him, we got in the car and picked it up!
So in short, we now have the ovenbox at CRO and even if he doesn’t come tomorrow, we can just call someone else to build the oven, since the biggest problem was the box, not the building itself. I’m VERY happy that we finally have the ovenbox, which is a big step forward, and now, hopefully, we can start baking next week.
Then the costs. Last time, I posted a list of prices and since then, we went to Kampala to order most of the startup materials. As it turned out, some of the prices were somewhat underestimated and we had to pay quite a lot more than what we had thought. Especially the baking trays and bread bags (which have to be special ordered), the mixing machine (which was a domestic size and we need a commercial size) and the bread slicer (we still don’t know why) are more expensive. We decided to order about half of the baking trays and save the rest for later, so we could save some on the costs. When it comes to the bread bags, we got a supplier to give us 50kg of bags (they usually sell from 100kg on), that’s 6.000 bags, at a reasonable price. On a later moment they will also sell us the printed bags (with logo, name and phone numbers) at a lower price then they usually do. For now we will just use stickers with the logo, so people can recognize our products.
Then the mixing machine and the bread slicer. That’s a whole different story. The mixing machine we saw in the folder was a domestic one and we need a commercial one, good for at least 20L. They don’t sell the 20L ones, they do sell 40L, but for 9 million UGX (€2657). So right now, we are looking at ways to get a cheaper mixing machine, maybe from Kenya, or something like that. The bread slicer, it turns out that it costs more than the oven, which is simply ridiculous. So we decided to skip it and just buy knives and a slicing board for now. Maybe later we can get one at a lower price, also from Kenya. Both the mixing machine and the bread slicer are not in the new estimate, because we simply don’t know the costs yet as we are looking for cheaper options.
In total, the costs come to about €1300 more than we thought last time I wrote, excluding the mixing machine and the bread slicer. But, I’ve got to say, I think €3839 to start a business is still a really good price! And once we finally start, we can and will invest some of the money we make to improve the bakery. Starting a business is not easy. Starting a business in Africa at a NGO without money for itself is CERTAINLY not easy!
And that is why we are so incredibly happy and grateful that so many people have given us money already! We are happy with every little bit you can give us and we promise you that we will make this business sustainable so we can finally take care of our children ourselves, without constantly having to ask for money.
Thank you very, very much for donating and if you still consider to donate, but don’t have a credit card, please contact me, so I give you the bank account information.
Laura, on behalf of the CRO Lira staff.
This all sounds a little bit too good to be true, and it kind of is, in a way. Because, to start a bakery and run it, of course you need more than just the oven. We have made a list of things we need, scratched of the stuff we can buy later (e.g. we will start mixing by hand and will later on buy a mixing machine, it will be a challenge, but we will deal with that for now!) and remained with a list of mostly ingredients, baking trays and the transport from and to Kampala, as most of it is not available here and we don’t have contacts in Kampala yet, who can send it. Jennifer (our cook) will have to go to Kampala, they will make the baking trays we want and she will contact good suppliers, so next time they can just send us and she doesn’t has to go to Kampala all the time. The list we made is really to start up, it has a little bit of all the things, and we will invest the profit we make to buy more later.
As my flight back to the Netherlands is scheduled on November 29th, and it will be very hard to change it (although I’m trying!), it is important that we start off with the bakery now, and not after Christmas. I will be teaching recipes and help start the bakery, as this is the hardest part for the people here. I am fully confident that, once the bakery runs, the staff here won’t need my presence anymore and will be able to run the bakery without my physical help.
That is why I have decided that I am going to loan the remaining money, that we need to start up now, to CRO Lira, and get it back once all the funds needed will come in. It is a risk, yes, but that is how sure I am about this bakery!
I hope you are too and will keep donating!
Attached is a detailed list of all the things we need to start up the bakery and what we need later to keep it running.
Thank you very Madam Laura for the great work your doing for the children at CRO and the entire community of Lira. Itsmy prayer that God answers all your requests and provides to meet the requirements for the children. So people out there, please join madam Laura for the great work she doing for the children and the entire community of Lira for these children are the future generation of tomorrow