ENTREPRENEUR: COSSY CAKES, NKIRU OTABOR-OSAFILE,

This week on Business Hub, we bring you Entrepreneur of the Week. And our entrepreneur of the week is Mrs. Nkiruka Constance Otabor Osafile, the CEO of Cossy Cakes, from Ewuru in Ika South Local Government, a graduate of Biology Education from the University of Benin, Benin City, who is into full time baking of all types of cakes ranging from birthday cakes, wedding cakes, house warming cakes, get together cakes and Pastries, and selling of baking equipment.
In this interview with Ika Weekly Newspaper, Mrs. Nkiruka Constance Otabor Osafile gives us an insight into the world of baking.
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Please may we meet you?
My name is Nkiruka Constance Otabor Osafile. I am from Ewuru, Agbor, Ika South Local Government Delta State. I am into Cake Designing and Pastries.
Can you tell us about your academic qualification?
I had my primary education at Holy Infant Nursery and Primary School, Agbor. After which, I went to Marymount College, for my Secondary Education. From there, I proceeded to College of Education, Agbor, for my N.C.E before acquiring a BS.C in Biology Education from the University of Benin, Benin City.
What do you do for a living?
I am into Cake baking and designs, I also make pastries.
Why did you choose to go into baking of cakes and pastries?
Cake baking is something I love doing, baking is a part of me; it is what I love to do, it is my hobby. Be that as it may, after my undergraduate studies, I could not get a job, so I thought it would be better for me to go into Cake designing and baking as a professional business. This propelled me to upgrade and seek training. After my first training in 2013, I started getting jobs. I thank God for the internet. Whenever I do any job, I upload it on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms. As a matter of fact, most of the jobs I get are from online platforms. I also train people in the art of baking cakes and I sell cake baking tools also
How long have you been in this business?
FB_IMG_1507901575112 ENTREPRENEUR: COSSY CAKES, NKIRU  OTABOR-OSAFILE,
Officially, I have been in this business for up to four years, though I have been baking cakes for a longer period due to the fact that my mom bakes cakes. When I was younger, I used to watch my mum whenever she was baking cakes in the kitchen, for home consumption, that was how I fell in love with cake baking. It is something I have always loved doing.
At what point did you officially start the baking business?
I started baking while I was in the university. I used to bake for my friends and course mates. It was this simple cake, where I bake without taking measurements. After my youth service, I decided to upgrade. Thus, I enrolled to learn with ‘Prestige Cakes’ in Lagos. There, I learnt measurement, when baking and how to do ‘Redundant Cakes’. In 2013, I relocated from Lagos to Agbor and I made my first wedding cake in that same year. In 2014, I decided to upgrade further, because cake is all about creativity and new ideas come up daily.
In a bid to upgrade further, I decided to go to ‘Prestain Cakes’ in Warri, where I trained for a month. After that, I knew that, I have attained near perfection; I could do different types of cake.
How old were you when you made your first cake?
I can’t really remember. However: before my university days, there was a book which taught people how to bake cakes. I bought the book and it assisted me when I wanted to bake cakes at home. Back then, I was in Secondary school. Sometimes, it came out well, and at other times, not so well. During that period, I was not using measurements. Instead, I used my discretion in baking. Butter icing, was my major designing ingredient back then. I can’t really remember exactly how old I was. I must have been around 15 years old, give or take, a few years more.
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Have you attended any cake competition outside Agbor?
In 2016, my team and I represented Delta State at the Nigerian Cake Expo which took place in Lagos. We took first position. In 2017 also, my team and I participated in a wedding cake competition, which was held in Warri. We also took the first position. It was a grand affair and I was so happy.
Have you won any award in cake designing and baking?
I have won three awards. The first was the cake competition held in Lagos; the Nigeria Cake Expo, the second was the Wedding Cake Competition, which was held in Warri, Delta State, I have also been given a Certificate of Honour by Frangela Ice Entertainment. I was given a Letter of Appreciation by ‘I.C.E.S’ in Warri, (International Cakes Exposition Society) Delta State, and I am preparing to go for another Cake competition in February, next year (2018), which is the ‘Master Baker Competition’, billed to hold in Lagos State.

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COSSY CAKE WITH TEAM MATE AT A COMPETITION

What have been your challenges in this business?
My main challenge so far is my geographical location. Things are not really easy for my people, here in Agbor. It has been really difficult to get clients to pay well for the kind of cakes I make. Some people come, asking me to make a very good cake for them, when they cannot pay good money for a good cake. With the hike in the price of baking materials, the case has worsened. I have always tried to let clients know that the increment in the price of goods is not my making.
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Have you had challenges in terms of Man power and electricity?
I have not had challenges in these sectors, because even when there is no light, I have my generator, which I can put on. I also have an industrial mixer which I use in baking my cakes.
Can you please name some of your notable clients?
I have made cakes for Zenith Bank, Diamond Bank, here in Agbor, Ika Weekly Newspaper and the rest. Actually, most of my clients are not based in Agbor. I deliver cakes to Benin, Port Harcourt, Asaba and Aba. My clients are so many, with most of them based in Asaba.
Can you give an estimate of how many cakes you have baked this year?
I have baked over 40 cakes since the beginning of this year. I do more of birthday cakes because that is what people can afford. However, I have customers who come for wedding cakes, but are not willing to pay well. The making of birthday cakes is actually more favorable, so I specialize in birthday cakes more.
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How many people have you trained?
I have trained a lot of people. I have trained between 20-30 people, here in Agbor. I have also trained people from outside Agbor. It is a thing of joy to know that most of my former students are doing well.
In the early stages of your business, what were the challenges you faced?
During the early stages, it wasn’t easy for me. For instance, in a month, I could bake only one cake due to low availability of customers. It wasn’t funny, because back then, I had to use my big oven for only one cake that cost Five Thousand Naira. I also had a very small mixer. So if I was to bake a thousand grams of cake, the small mixer made the work very stressful.
What is the price range of your cakes?
The least amount I charge for a cake is Eight Thousand Naira. However, I make different kinds of cake at different prices.
What are your words of advice to persons/youths waiting for government or white collar jobs?
My advice to them is to be self-employed; there is nothing like learning a skill/handwork. It is so satisfactory when you are your own boss. So, I advise both graduates and post-graduates, to have something good doing. A woman for instance, can learn baking or tailoring or hairdressing. Also, the men should have something doing, so that they can support themselves, in case of lack of jobs. Perhaps, if I did not go into business, I might still be waiting for a job. Even if I had a job, I would probably be earning meager amount, which cannot even sustain me in the long run.
If you were not baking today, what would you have been doing?
If I was not into baking, I would probably be teaching, because that is what I learnt in school. One thing that gives me joy in baking is the fact that I still get to teach people on how to bake, in that way, I do not deviate from my educational training, which is “teaching”.
How can people contact you?
My office is located at No 47 Odeh Street, by Orubor, Agbor, Delta State. I also have an office extension on Lagos/Asaba Road, just opposite UBA bank. I can also be reached via my phone number, – 08034406725.
If you were to relocate to a place where the business will thrive more, where would you have loved to be?
I love my State, but baking business thrives more in places like Abuja, Port Harcourt, Rivers States, Lagos State and the likes.
Would you like the government to assist you, and if yes, in what capacity?
The government can assist me by way of establishing and equipping a baking school for me, where I can teach and train people in the art of baking.
What are your final words to the youths?
My advice to the youths is to take life easy and be focused on whatever passion they have. Stay on their path and strive to keep getting better in their field of interest, and they shouldn’t overburden themselves.
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Training session

Any words for fellow bakers in the baking profession?
I urge others who bake to attend trainings, seminars and workshops, so they can get better at what they do. There is an organization called International Cake Exploration Society (ICES), it is a cake organization located both in Nigeria and in U.S.A. It has branches all over Nigeria, and for Delta State, it is located at Warri, Delta State.
I encourage everyone that is into baking to join the organization, so they can meet professionals, learn new ideas and how to be more creative in baking. I have benefited a lot from the organization, and there are others who have benefited from them also. People should have the habit of attending trainings. I have organized a couple of training here in Agbor, and the attendance was not encouraging. Even when people tell me am good at what I do, I still go for training.

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