Baking and entrepreneurship have a lot in common. While there are general rules to follow, there is a lot of trial and error. One part fine art, one part science. You need to be able to see what is missing and know how to adapt.
Jeanne Nyangoma’s journey as an entrepreneur began in 2016 when she began selling high-end custom cupcakes and cookies in the Naala neighborhood of Kampala. As her client base grew, so did special requests for gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan products. After searching Uganda for gluten-free flours and finding only imported, expensive options, Jeanne set out to make her own. Trial and error was the name of the game. She spent countless hours on Google researching, then days scouring local markets for obscure ingredients. Only after many failed baking attempts did she succeed in finding a combination that was up to her standards. Jollity Healthy Treats was born.
Knowing she had found a gap in the market for healthy baked goods, Jeanne pivoted her company to focus solely on gluten-free, vegan products. With President Museveni campaigning for healthier lifestyles for Ugandans, Jeanne knew her business aligned with a new wave of healthier eating and wanted to be ready to meet the demand. The business grew quickly, and Jeanne sought out guidance to help her scale. Jeanne enrolled in the Sinapis Entrepreneur Academy, which helped her align her business and define her target market. Additionally, Sinapis provided networking opportunities that led her to an investor and her first round of seed funding.
Enter COVID-19. The pandemic has impacted nearly every business, and Jollity Healthy Treats is no exception. As people needed to stay home, there was less demand for pre-made treats; however Jeanne noticed there was a surge of at-home baking. As shelves emptied of pantry staples, Jollity Healthy Treats began packaging organic, gluten-free flour to address the needs of customers. Jeanne also increased the company’s presence online and on social media and is sharing recipes and baking tips through these channels. A wise business leader, Jeanne is also using this time to work on the internal systems of her business. She did a deep review of Jollity’s finances which motivated her to look for less expensive suppliers for her packaging and ingredients. She has been able to cut transportation costs and has even been able to secure a number of additional distribution outlets for her products during the pandemic, including the Jumia Food mobile app.
As Jeanne looks to the future, she has big plans – from building a commercial kitchen to selling Jollity Healthy Treats products to schools. In addition to freshly baked goods, Jeanne’s vision includes a product line of frozen gluten-free items alongside her packaged gluten-free flours, and she hopes to expand her brand to supermarkets across East Africa.