Cakezone: A rising star in Zimbabwe’s cake and pastry industry

Cakezone: A rising star in Zimbabwe’s cake and pastry industry

Although birthday parties where a weekly event in my childhood ghetto neighbourhood of Chipadze, Bindura, where I was grew up; I really can’t remember the commercial source that supplied birthday cakes for those events. Could it be OK store or TM, or maybe Bonanza? What I remember though was that in every neighbourhood there was always an Aunty who was known to have the mastery of baking birthday cakes, for free.

Never mind the quality, in most cases, the genius of putting a smile on every child’s face at birthdays which the aunties possessed was inspired by pictures from magazines such as Parade, the Horizon or Drum from South Africa. In some cases, it was also inspired by television adverts that would repeatedly be played on the venerated ZBC. At the end of the day most families had their own in-house aunty who made birthday cakes using creative and innovative ways to make the cakes stand out. Of course, the first innovation of a new baker in the “hood” was usually the art of squeezing icing cream using a re-cycled plastic paper of sour milk – Lacto.

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To think that the shapes of the cakes were only limited to cylinders, squares and rectangles now sounds ludicrous. And for the colours, if was not pink or blue, it mostly likely would be yellow or red. This is a far-cry to the almost melodramatic shapes and colours of cakes we see today which now comes in the form of animals, cars and even human caricature, some printed in 3D. We are now living in the new age of the cake generation!

Today, the cake industry in Zimbabwe has established itself as a formidable and thriving sector which has made a mark in the women-run and dominated sector of economic prowess. On the one hand, it is quite remarkable how local indigenous players took advantage to disrupt the market and compete in the cake making industry which was dominated by major retailers and reputable cake making companies. I guess this came through the spirit of indigenisation. From birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, gender reveals and even funerals, the cake industry value chain in Zimbabwe can easily be valued into millions of dollars and employs thousands of people; while supporting households and various sectors of the economy unashamedly.

One such player in Zimbabwe’s Cake Industry is “Cakezone”, fronted by Rumbidzai “Rumbie” Mkandawire. As a qualified and experienced marketer who holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing from Solusi University, Rumbie never thought she would one day become a full-time baker. This is not until her mother, a seasoned baker in her own right fell ill, leaving Rumbie with no choice but to resign from her Marketing job to fill the void. As fate had it, she became the heiress to the cake company that her mother had set up for years, for which she was only a side-marketer who thrived from the irresistible mark-ups which characterize the marketing industry.

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Rumbie also proudly shares the story of a prophetic proclamation made by her Pastor, Pastor Priscilla Wazara, way back in 2015 which also pointed her in the direction of Cake Making in what has manifested into CakeZone in 2017. Over the years, Rumbi has had to go to learn more about baking to perfect her skills and continues to do so as the baking industry is fast evolving. Her star continues to grow as can be seen though her guest appearances even on national radio such as Star FM.

The rise of Cakezone as a dominant player in Zimbabwe’s Cake and Pastry Industry also has its own tale of peaks and valleys. The brand has survived up and downs which are characteristic of start-ups operating in a volatile socio-economic context such as Zimbabwe. And I am sure there is no better way to justify its resilience than the spirit of its founder, Ms Mkandawire. CakeZone does not simply represent Rumbidzai’s determination to start and grow a business in an already dominated, reputation-driven, “connections-based” market, but also exemplifies the potential for women to start, grow and sustain a million-dollar industry with impeccable standards and meticulous adherence to customer expectations. The author had the privilege of attending high school with Rumbie, and it was the candidness, call to duty and astuteness she possessed, back then, that we see today in her way of doing business. Nowonder why it was a no-brainer for the teaching staff to appoint her as the headgirl of our school.

To date, the cake industry in Zimbabwe is highly informal with most players working from their house kitchens and make-shift back yard bakeries. However, it has grown to establish associations such as the Passion bakers, Zim Cake Artists and Sunroma bakers which are great in supporting its members to improve standards, acquire knowledge on new and modern baking methods, marketing, financial and entrepreneurship development skills.

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As for the CakeZone, the brand has grown and continues to inspire others having already made a mark in securing reputable clients such as National Employment Council for the Tourism Sector, Zimbabwe Institute for Strategic Thinking, Rouxgold as well as served celebrity parties such as Andy Muridzo, Terry wekwaTerry,  and Greatman. Working with a team of 5 ladies, Rumbi believes that “Do whatever you do passionately or don’t do it at all’

Nyasha Frank Mpahlo

Nyasha Frank Mpahlo is the Director for Green Governance Zimbabwe Trust and an independent Advisor on Environmental, Social and Governance issues in Africa.

2 thoughts on “Cakezone: A rising star in Zimbabwe’s cake and pastry industry

  1. Your passion and dedication to your craft are evident in every cake you bake. Well done CakeZone.

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