Young baker now brand ambassador for SA company

An enterprising Namibian woman who has an insatiable passion for baking has become the first to be chosen as brand ambassador for South African baking company Cake Flora.

Shiwomeho ‘Shiwa’ Kalla, the owner of the Shiwa|The Baker brand, says Cake Flora is a leading importer, manufacturer and distributer of cake decorations and accessories in southern Africa, and has been supplying
retail outlets and bakeries since 1971.

Kalla says she has the Namibia Investment Promotion Development Board (NIPDB) to thank for selecting her as one of seven Namibian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to participate in the Africa’s Big 7 trade exhibition in Johannesburg last October.

“My participation at the expo, the largest retail-ready food and beverage showcase in Africa, was made possible with sponsorship by Bank Windhoek,” she says.

“While exhibiting on Namibia’s pavilion, our brand caught the eye of Cake Flora’s sales and marketing manager, Andrea Fresen, and she told me I would be the perfect fit for a Cake Flora brand ambassador role,” Kalla says.

They exchanged business cards, and after a series of engagements she was announced Cake Flora’s brand ambassador in late January.

Kalla says at the core of the Shiwa|The Baker brand is the theme of empowerment.

She says having trained more than 500 women in baking over six years is an incredible feat, especially considering that some are now running their own flourishing enterprises.

However, what will always be the highlight of Kalla’s baking career though, is “having baked for the country during Independence Day celebrations and having had the privilege to bake for president Hage Geingob”, she says.

She attributes her success to hard work and talent honing through constant upskilling, in addition to six years of industry experience, which gave her the edge over competition.

The Oranjemund-born baker says apart from endorsing the Cake Flora brand, her job entails creating awareness of the company’s products.

“Our strategy is to achieve this mainly through social media content and in-person activities such as pop-ups, and in-store product demonstrations in outlets that retail Cake Flora products.

“We will also host baking and cake decorating masterclasses, with the first in Windhoek on 16 and 17 March, to teach participants baking and decorating cakes using an assortment of Cake Flora supplies and accessories.”

As a beneficiary of expos and trade fairs, Kalla says they are an opportunity for SMEs to observe market trends and adapt their offerings accordingly.

“They also offer an excellent platform for networking with industry professionals, suppliers, distributors, and potential business partners from around the world.

“Aside from the brand exposure and recognition, exhibiting at the Africa’s Big 7 Expo allowed us to receive direct feedback from consumers and industry experts,” she says.

Participation has exposed the business to various regulations and compliance requirements specific to different countries, she says.

“We are now more familiar with import/export regulations, food safety standards, and other legal obligations when expanding our business to new markets,” she says.

On what her company in particular and Namibia in general stand to benefit from this accolade, Kalla says the first international micro-influencing assignment is a true testament of the appeal of the Shiwa|The Baker brand, and the success of the campaign will be a test of the influence the brand has.

“Together with Cake Flora I will showcase their new products and demonstrate how to achieve the best results using the latest cake decorating trends. This is a huge opportunity for Namibian bakers to broaden their horizons,” says Kalla.

She holds a certificate in management and marketing from the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft des Saarlandes in Germany.

She also holds a bachelor’s degree in office management and technology from the Namibian University of Science and Technology (Nust) and is currently pursuing a postgraduate qualification in business management,
also at Nust.

“My vision is to become a certified master baker and establish my own baking academy in the next few years. So, I’m constantly pushing and challenging myself to become better so that I can earn the title of master baker.”

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