Kelmo’s Cakes and Cafe
In late 2014, Kelebogile Monnatlala had a hungry desire to bake.
However, there was one glaring obstacle: she knew nothing about baking!
Monnatlala’s determination to master the oven saw her approach her husband with one simple request.
“I asked him if he knew anyone who could give me baking lessons, and he recommended a certain teacher at Letlhakane Senior School,” she recalls.
Unfortunately, the suggested tutor was unavailable and instead referred Monnatlala to another baking guru, a Lecturer at Tonota College of Education (TCE).
“MmaGozo taught me everything I know about making cakes and baking in general,” explains Monnatlala, speaking exclusively to Voice Money recently.
Armed with a new skill and a determination to start a business in her home village of Tonota, Monnatlala hit the ground running.
She started working from home, taking orders from Francistown and surrounding villages. Over the next three years, she established herself as a baker of choice for party and wedding organizers through her business, Kelmo’s Cakes and Cafe.
The enterprise has become renowned for its biscuits, scones, muffins, particularly their flagship yummy and less sugary madila (sour milk) muffins.
“As more orders came I decided it was time to move to an ideal area. I relocated to Francistown in 2018, but I was still operating from home,” she says, describing moving to the second capital as ‘a stroke of genius as it brought her closer to most of her clients.
“When I operated from Tonota, most of my clientele was from Francistown. I used to drive up and down delivering orders here. Relocating has really reduced my costs as most of my clients can easily collect their orders. The business has been excellent since I moved,” she declares.
In February, Monnatlala oversaw another successful relocation, moving her cake-making enterprise and setting up shop in Extension’s Central Business District.
“I use social media, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to market my business, but so far word of mouth has been the most effective. I think when people have tasted your product and know about it, it becomes easier to spread the message. They then encourage their families and friends to order from Kelmo’s Cakes,” beams Monnatlala.
She tells Voice Money that running a cake business requires perseverance and patience.
“Anything can go wrong with the customer just 10 minutes away. You need to be able to think on your feet,” she explains, ruefully noting that customers can be demanding with their time frames and elaborate requests.
“A standard cake can be baked and delivered on the same day depending on the design. But if I feel that it’s impossible, it’s up to me to give a client possible options and designs,” she says.
While business has been good with the recent introduction of a cafe for her on-the-move clientele, Monnatlala admits the outbreak of Covid-19 and the subsequent regulations to control it has harmed her enterprise.
Commenting on the Francistown First campaign, an initiative by Tafic Sporting Club, Monnatlala says it is a welcome effort that can go a long way in saving a lot of businesses and reviving the city’s economy.
Monnatlala, whose company was one of the sponsors for the initiative’s launch, reveals her revenue has taken a serious knock particularly when it comes to weddings.
“Wedding cakes are more valuable as they can bring in about P4, 000, unlike a birthday cake which might bring in P600. I support this Tafic initiative of buying local and supporting our struggling businesses. Francistown First!” she exclaims excitedly.