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Budding entrepreneurs series: Student by Day, Baker by Night

Ray Rueben Kibet, 2nd year BBS student in School of Finance and Applied Economics shares on his passion for baking.  He has formed a company, ‘Rayz Golden Treatz ‘to sell cakes and pastries.

How did you start off?

As a person, food has been my Achilles heel for the longest time. I’ve always loved good food and as a child I spent a lot of time in mum’s kitchen observing. My inquisitive nature always made me wonder how different the food would be if I added certain different ingredients or not others.

I didn’t really start baking until I was 7 years, when I visited my auntie; back then I would break the eggs, set the timer of the oven and if lucky, I would be allowed to place batter into the oven. When the cake was ready, I’d pierce it with a knife to check if well cooked before indulging shortly after it had cooled. At this time, we used cake-mix, a pre-combined mixture and all you do is mix following instructions and voila you had a cake.

As I grew older, I started taking charge and baking more independently by following the instructions. By 12 years, I was adept at baking (using the cake mix) and at cooking different kinds of food.

In High school, I decided to choose Business Studies and Home Science (I knew I had an advantaged and higher chance of excelling already), I now learnt the science behind cake making.

I learnt how to bake from scratch and on returning home, I would surprise my family members with new recipes from my reading in the School Library.  My Home Science teacher, now deceased, also discovered how passionate I was about baking and allowed me a degree of liberty at experimenting with assorted cake recipes and ingredients whenever she was available. All this led to my continuous growth as a baker and pastry chef.

How did you start Rays Golden Treatz?

I started baking professionally in June 2012. Before sitting the KCSE exam, I wrote a plan of what I wanted to do afterwards; the plan constituted supplying mandazi and chapati to the nearby Madaraka Primary students, renting a van and starting a school transport business and so on.

However, upon completion of secondary school, my mother prompted to start a catering company that would specialize in going to people’s homes during parties and cooking exotic dishes. I decided to take up the idea and what followed was a series of attempts to work as an apprentice at leading hotels in Nairobi, to acquire necessary skills.

I also attended Valentine School of Cake for a course in professional baking and cake decoration as I waited to get a place as an apprentice. At Valentine school, students have to take home their cooking each day, and instead of taking my products home, I would instead give them out to friends and relatives as samples. They liked them so much, that orders started streaming in even before I finished the program. I immediately saw an opportunity here and went into full swing into marketing myself.

How did you raise start up capital?

Baking cakes is not as capital intensive as other businesses and thanks to my very supportive mum who loaned me Kshs 90,000 (for this I am greatly indebted to her and she has since earned an unlimited supply of cakes and pastries). With this money, I bought a few baking tins, decorating equipment etc. I have since repaid that money and have my own savings from my business.

What course are you taking here in Strathmore and how does it help you in the future?

At Strathmore, I am currently pursuing Bachelor of Business Science- Financial Economics. I intend to be a lifetime investor and thus require a high sense of financial literacy and maturity. God has blessed me with an entrepreneurial persona which I intend to use to the best of my ability. Financial Economics will help me to come up with investment portfolios that maximize my profits and utility, manage my investments, guide my security investment decisions, increase my efficiency and effectiveness and as a whole make me a better person. I however intend to pursue a degree in Law soon after, as I am passionate about law too.

Share with us the vision for Rayz Golden Treats?

I envision ‘Rayz Golden Treatz’ as a household name in the near future. I hope to be the best in cake baking, I aspire to be as good as Buddy Valastro (Cake Boss). It is my ambition to be able to make cakes on any themes, shapes and concepts. For me cake baking is like a game where you’re always trying to beat previous high score. With cakes, one can do anything as long as you have the patience to learn and ambition ‘ambition is priceless it’s something that’s in your veins’

What next for you? Would you encourage other students to get into business?

I would definitely encourage students to get into business. Running a business alongside school life is extremely difficult. In fact, one does struggle but once you gain the perfect balance, everything falls into place. It entails sacrifice e.g no sleep, but once you start to rake in returns, it makes it all worthwhile. The future can be unpredictable, and one cannot bank on employment, hence the necessity for a back-up plan. For me, I am almost certain of having meal everyday as well as little extra to spend on the side. I am not saying that employment is a bad thing but if you can, why not insure it by having that business on the side that will afford you those things you’ve always wanted to have.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself finishing a law degree in the next five years. As for my business, I see it growing in leaps and bounds and owning my own business premise in town as opposed to paying rent.  I also plan to fully grow my business into a fully fledged hotel (which has always been my dream) with state of the art tech like hotel software, CRMs and others than will enable me have a fighting chance in the competitive food industry.

We congratulate Ray Kibet for thinking without the box and wish him all the very best.