Staff Writer

Sixteen unemployed women from various informal settlements in Windhoek were recently empowered with the skill of baking. The women participated in a special Women Empowerment Baking Masterclass hosted by Shiwomeho Kalla, the founder of Shiwa The Baker and Metropolitan Namibia.

The Introduction to Baking Masterclass is an initiative by Shiwa The Baker that aims to empower aspiring bakers with the baking and business skills they need to thrive and gives them confidence to pursue their dreams of owning their own businesses.

While women are key drivers to prosperity, they face a myriad of barriers in terms of entering the financial ecosystem. These include societal restrictions, lack of access to funding, skills and financial literacy, amongst others.

“I am inspired by the value women bring to society. But I’m also aware of the difficulties that exist for women entrepreneurs and that the journey towards financial freedom can be quite rough. That’s why women empowerment is a guiding principle in my business. I’ve made a conscious decision to share my knowledge and skills as a way to uplift women in the baking industry and contribute towards developing future leaders, one masterclass at a time”, said Shiwa.

The 16 participants who hail from informal settlements in areas such as Kilimandjaro and Oshitenda amongst others, all aspire to open and run baking businesses, but did not have access to opportunities to learn the necessary technical and financial skills to do so. Though this baking masterclass, they were equipped with the skills to bake various products including cakes, cupcakes and vetkoek (fat cakes). In addition to that, the participants were also mentored by the various speakers and given the guidance and strategies on how to manage their finances in order to build profitable baking businesses.

“We are immensely grateful to Metropolitan Namibia for their generous support and rallying behind this initiative. Collectively, we were able to create an incredible opportunity to positively impact the lives of these 16 women. We look forward to seeing their success and hope that through this initiative we contributed towards creating a ripple effect that can help alleviate poverty in our communities”, said Shiwa.

Metropolitan Namibia is a brand that is intentional about supporting women and recognizes the role of women in moving society forward. They don’t just talk women empowerment; they walk the talk by financially investing in interventions that support women-led businesses.

According to the Executive Officer Ingah Ekandjo, the company supported the initiative to contribute towards alleviating poverty through empowering women with valuable skills that will positively change their lives and that of their families.

“Metropolitan supports Shiwa the Baker’s philosophy of “we rise by lifting others”.
True to our slogan, “Together we Can”, we believe that partnerships like this can change the social and economic landscape of our people. We can break the chain of poverty and uplift women in Namibia especially those who have previously been disadvantaged so that they can provide a better future for their children”, said Ekandjo.

Both companies are fully committed to developing the next generation of women entrepreneurs. In order to give these aspiring bakers a head start, all participants received a baking business started kit fully stocked with all the equipment and ingredients they need to start their businesses. With this business kit and their newly acquired skills, the women are able to start a baking business immediately.

“We are humbled to create opportunities for these women because we believe by doing so they will go and grow their businesses and create opportunities for others. At Metropolitan we believe that what matters to you matters to us, and by empowering women, our impact will be that women spend their money on the health, education and safety of their families”, said Ekandjo.

For the past two years, Shiwa has committed her time and resources to sharing her knowledge and skills with aspiring bakers across the country. To date, she has trained close to 300 bakers and has no intention of stopping anytime soon. “The Coronavirus pandemic has changed the economic landscape, especially for small businesses. In the face of these unprecedented times, we are called upon to change our mindset towards helping and collaborating with other entrepreneurs. I don’t just want to be part of the change; I want to be the change maker and help fellow women entrepreneurs to rise and reach their fullest potential. Ultimately, we
are indeed stronger together”, said Shiwa.

As a parting shot, Shiwa encourages women to believe and tap into in their innate power to bring positive change to the world and lead other into a future that offers limitless opportunities and in which women are empowered in a tangible way.