London food businesses get cooking, with support from the Small Business Center

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Nigerian sweet bread baked and sold by Amazing Bakery in London has attracted a steady and growing clientele here.

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But owner Funmi Ogunshote wants to take it to another level.

His small bakery on Blue Heron Drive fired up its ovens in 2020 baking 32 loaves a day. Now she bakes 180 a day and her goal is 360 a day by the end of the year.

For help with this, she turned to the London Small Business Center and its Foodpreneur Advantage program which recently launched its new session.

“I recommend it to anyone who wants to start a small business. It helped me understand what it takes to make a business more profitable,” Ogunshote said.

“After going through it, I sat down and reassessed my business,” with an eye on how to grow.

The Foodpreneur Advantage program consists of two sessions:

– Regular, free webinars where food entrepreneurs – and anyone else – get tips on the nuts and bolts of starting a small business.

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– A “scaling up” program for approximately 24 people to help existing small businesses scale up.

“What we love about the program is that it taps into the growing trend of people’s love of food. And consumers want variety, they want to know where their food comes from,” said Steve Pellarin, managing director of the small business center.

“The time has come and now we can provide additional guidance for these programs.”

Foodpreneur Advantage offers “a bit of everything” on how to start and grow a small business, from product development and sales and marketing to understanding food safety guidelines and managing human resources challenges. , Pellarin said.

The center has been offering food business development programs for six years, but Foodpreneur Advantage is taking it to a new level, with support from The Grove, an agribusiness development center at Western Fair that donated $50,000 to the program, and a $40,000 grant from Libro Credit Union. This funding has made it possible to offer more programs and to hire more experts.

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“It exposed me to professionals so I could grow my business, and I work with people who are now getting marketing help,” said Ogunshote, a graduate of the scale program.

Last year, about 350 people attended, and this year more than 300 will attend at the start of the spring session, Pellarin said.

The London center has partnered with other business support programs in the region and advises business owners in Windsor, Chatham-Kent and Elgin and Essex counties, as well as London and Middlesex.

Foodpreneur webinar topics include starting a food business, selling a product, costs and pricing to make a profit, marketing and branding, labeling and packaging, and regulatory compliance management.

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The scaling program runs over 10 weeks, providing access to 10 industry experts, workshops and discussions with peers.

It focuses on issues facing food businesses, such as food safety regulations, labeling regulations, connecting with buyers and distributors, introducing products to national chains, developing of products and sales to retailers.

Businesses can get grants of up to $5,000 to help kick-start that growth.

As for Amazing Bakery, its products are sold in six stores in London and four in Hamilton, St. Catharines and Windsor, but Ogunshote wants to expand its customer base.

She sells a sweet white bread popular in Nigeria, where she is from, as well as sweet rolls and coconut bread and will make pastries, chicken pot pie and sausage rolls to order.

“I am now in a better position to make decisions in terms of profitability and productivity,” Ogunshote said of what she learned from Foodpreneur Advantage.

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