18 Jan 2022
By: IOM Gambia

I learned that venturing into business does not require a lot of money. Start with something small, and then you can eventually grow.

I started my pastry business in 2019. It wasn’t easy when I started, because I didn’t have the capital. I had a cosmetic business in Manjai, but it was not working well, so I decided to venture into the food industry. I didn’t go through any professional studies to learn baking, but my husband is a professional chef, and he taught me a lot of things that I needed to know.

With this, I decided to quit my professional career to concentrate on the pastry business. Getting the materials for the business was really challenging, but I had the boldness to kick-off the business by selling meat pies and sausage rolls, which doesn’t require a lot of money. Thanks to these dishes, my earnings increased, and I used them to buy mixers and other materials to expand my pastry business.

My sister alerted me to an IOM’ mini-grant scheme that was advertised online. I decided to apply and was successful. Through the program, I received a grant of GMD 50,000 (approximately USD 1,000) and a three-day business training. Although it was just three days, it felt like the training lasted a month because of how much lessons we learned and experiences we gained.

After the training, I was able to work on my weaknesses, improve my managerial skills and adopt new strategies one can use to sustain a business. I also learned how to record my sales and how to market my business. For instance, when I realized that people prefer to buy from restaurants rather than a small store like the one I run, I decided to create a Facebook page to advertise the products I was making. This helped my business a lot. Through the training, I also had the opportunity to work with other entrepreneurs and to learn from their experiences. We created a WhatsApp group that we use to talk about our future plans and to advertise our products. I realized that I am not alone, since we can rely on each other to get what we need.

Before receiving the grant, my business was fluctuating, because I was having issues with some of the pastry making materials. I really needed the capital to buy these things. Today, I have three employees in Manjai and one in Brusubi. I learned that venturing into business does not require a lot of money. Start with something small, and then you can eventually grow. There are a lot of resources in the country that we can utilize.

Diminga was a beneficiary of IOM’s mini-grant scheme under the Supporting Local and Economic Development (SLED) project, funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation. The scheme was implemented in partnership with Reliance Financial Services.