Success story Kosovo / Promoting young women entrepreneurs through knowledge transfer

The Cake Shop and Café “Bardha’s Cake”
In spite of the pandemic, “Bardha’s Cake” can look back on a successful year: the customers love Bardha’s products. The orders were so numerous that the team could not keep up with receiving and fulfilling them. They worked around the clock. The company asked Senior Expert Contact (SEC) for support. Together with a pastry chef from Bern, they reorganized their processes.

Last autumn, Markus Rolli received a request to advise a cake shop and café in Kosovo. The company “Bardha’s Cake” produces cakes, waffles, and other desserts. Although he was unable to travel to Kosovo to visit the business, the SEC expert agreed to help optimize the company’s processes over a period of four months.

Through Bardha’s descriptions, photos and videos, the experienced pastry chef and trainer was able to quickly get a handle on the situation. But Rolli also emphasizes: “The supervision by video, especially in the area of making pastries as well as quality control, was challenging.” Improving product quality and developing new products also proved difficult, as various basic ingredients were not available anywhere in Kosovo. Markus Rolli and Bardha had to improvise.

Improvisation leads to success
After much effort, Bardha was able to find two suppliers who could deliver the ingredients. Now nothing stood in the way of introducing new products. In addition, Bardha and Markus Rolli found time to assess the feasibility of opening of another branch. During the SEC assignment, they determined its location and product range. The new branch was opened shortly afterwards.

By adapting processes, it was possible to reduce employees’ working hours while keeping their wages the same. Thanks to these changes, the business owner’s family also no longer works nights in the bakery. Bardha is very proud of what has been achieved so far: “It would be amazing if the expert could visit my company and see how we are implementing his recommendations.” This is a wish that is also close to Markus Rolli’s heart. From a distance, it is difficult for him to assess the implementation of his advice and to pick up on problems.

The Client: Bardha’s Cake
Bardha Mazreku founded a small cake shop and café in Malisheve in 2018. In addition to artfully decorated cakes, she also offers waffles, cakes, mocktails and coffee. The popular eatery, which employs 12 people, faced a drop in sales during the Corona pandemic. However, Bardha was able to cushion this to some extent by introducing new products and by offering a delivery service throughout the summer. She was lucky not to have to lay anyone off. On the contrary, she was recently able to open another branch. Now she is one step closer to her goal of opening more branches and employing forty women in her business.

Questions to SEC expert Markus Rolli

What do you think in general about the results achieved through online consulting?
It gave me great pleasure to observe the progress in the area of “organization”. The measures I suggested led to a streamlining of processes after just a few weeks.

Which suggestions from the first assignment were implemented?
Suggestions to improve the quality of the pastries and to optimize internal processes.

What impressed you most in this consulting assignment?
Within a short time, a second sales outlet with a café was opened. During the assignment, we discussed everything from the choice of location to the product range.

What surprised you or what did not work as expected?
The work was made more difficult by the fact that various basic ingredients are not available in Kosovo, so we had to improvise. Through relationships, we were able to find suppliers who were able to procure these ingredients

Where did you reach your limits with this kind of advice?
For the pastry, bakery and confectionery sector, consulting via Zoom is possible, but not ideal. Overseeing the production of pastries and the supervision of quality control were particularly challenging aspects.

Did you continue to have contact with the customer after the job was finished? With what kind of support?
Since the assignment ended, we are still loosely in contact via email and Facebook.