There is nothing more homely than the smell of freshly baked goods. Though, with a busy life, it can be hard to find the time to roll up your sleeves and get mixing. On a mission to change this, Chikumo turned to the crowd with an idea.
As a huge dessert lover, Chikumo Fiseko used her baking talent to recreate her favourite shop-bought desserts at home. For eight years, she baked and sold a variety of confectioneries to cafés, restaurants, businesses, and her own growing customer base.
Soon she had loyal clients scattered all over the UK. Though, after moving to Ireland, she couldn’t always bake for everyone. She realised that so many of her customers would love to bake at home themselves but didn’t always have the time or know-how to give it a go.
It was then that Chikumo had the idea to create simple and sustainable all-in-one baking mixes to help them on their baking journey. By imparting her knowledge through video tutorials and classes, she could also teach the next generation how to create anything from a simple cake to a highly decorated show-stopper.
This dream encouraged her to set up her first crowdfunding campaign with an aim to raise £3,000 so she could bring her prototype baking mixes to market. She also took part in the Back Her Business programme which aims to close the gender gap in business by supporting women through coaching, networking opportunities, and funding from NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland or Ulster Bank.
Of the programme, Chikumo said, “I recently had a male business owner that told me I couldn’t specialise in baking and marketing or offer both services, meaning I wasn’t passionate about what I do. I’ve also been told for years how, as a woman, you have to choose between a career and a family. However, I don’t believe that is true, so I want to show that we can have it all.”
She continued, “I built my career as an entrepreneur and public speaker in Sheffield, so moving to Belfast and having to start again was daunting. To have received the support I have from such a mixture of people has been overwhelming. I have met some amazing people through the process, including my mentor. It has also made me believe in myself again!”
In just 28 days, she smashed her initial target and went on to raise £4,700 from 37 supporters, including an extra-funding boost of £1,500, allowing her to launch an array of products, including Vanilla, Chocolate, Almost Carrot Coffee, and Banoffee mixes.
“Receiving the extra funding and being able to tell the world that Ulster Bank backed my business is truly an honour. As a woman and an ethnic minority, it is hard enough to get your voice heard and, at 25, not everyone wants to take you seriously — so it has been a blessing! The extra funding is allowing me to research more into packaging that is good for the environment and to work with CAFRE, a specialist food university.”
Where is she now?
In the weeks after her successful crowdfunding campaign, Chikumo’s mixes have already gone down a treat with her customers with one reviewer hailing her Vanilla mix as “absolutely delicious”.
When asked what Back Her Business has allowed her to achieve, she said, “I have set up a website and now officially sell my baking mixes, and I am in talks to potentially stock my baking mixes in small independent retailers across Northern Ireland.”
After running such a successful crowdfunding campaign and receiving an extra funding grant from Ulster Bank, Chikumo left us with some top tips for anyone thinking about crowdfunding.
“Crowdfunding takes time so, firstly, there needs to be a plan. Always be prepared for things not to go as you hoped, which is fine, but be proud of yourself at every step of the way whether you hit your target or not. You never know who could open doors for you!”
Do you have a business idea but don’t know where to start? Check out the Back Her Business programme and see if you could be eligible to receive expert coaching, networking opportunities, and extra-funding grants to help you make your dream business happen!