2+ months ago, I joined Julie in Rwanda for an extended work trip. This trip has been one of the best, fastest-paced and most motivating trips yet.
When I arrived in late July, our new Remera bakery in Kigali was just opening. While we had technically launched this bakery in March, we had been struggling with the bakery’s assigned leadership and, as a team, decided it would be most advantageous to our trained women to open a TWB owned (as opposed to a field partner-owned) bakery. So we did. Our team worked their tails off to quickly launch a new bakery and employ 7 women.
Times were simultaneously exciting and daunting. While our TWB team believed in our model and knew it could work, we had yet to see our poster-child success story. Sure, our bakeries in Tanzania (of which there are 2 medium-sized and 7 home-bakeries) are doing well, but we haven’t yet seen the kind of financial success from the medium-sized bakeries we know is possible. Thus, the new Remera bakery was a kind of test for TWB. We were holding our breath for success - and working 15-hour days to ensure that success!
In early August, our Remera bakery was producing and selling about 50 pieces of bread a day. By mid-September and with help from Pascal Hosten (our contracted professional baker), we were up to 300+ pieces of bread per day. It was starting to work – women were baking and selling new, fortified breads consistently and well. We were breaking into new markets daily, specifically a handful of supermarkets in Kigali. We were starting to get regulars. Newcomers were seeking us out. We were beginning to be recognized as a quality, affordable neighborhood bakery.
What’s more, we are dangerously close to profitability. If the Remera bakery continues to increase their production and sales by just 50 pieces of bread each week we will be profitable by December. That’s 5 months. That’s 0 to profitability in 5 months.
Our model WORKS. And the Remera bakery is the success-story proof. TWB has been shaped and refined and redirected by a series of learning experiences and by the tireless commitment, grit and brilliance of our team. And now we’re hitting our stride – get ready Rwanda.