July 9, 2015

SPARK IGNITE: Ignite Fund kickstarts Le Grenier bakery success

As a relatively new programme implemented in August 2014, the Ignite Fund so far has recruited 4 entrepreneurs with promising businesses to invest in. The Ignite Fund is designed to bridge the financing gap for promising entrepreneurs from SPARK programmes who need more than €0.5 million funding for their businesses to grow but lack the collateral required by local banks to retrieve a loan. One of the first entrepreneurs the Ignite Fund has supported is Speciose Byukusenge, owner of small-scale bakery Le Grenier in Kigali. Speciose initially opened up a restaurant nearby the Anglican Church where her husband pastored through which she sold her bakery products as well. Her baking proved to be a big hit as the demand for her products increased. Several Anglican schools in the area started to purchase bread from Speciose for the student’s lunches.  With demand rising and her customer base growing, over time Speciose’s baking activities overwhelmed the restaurant.  Given the huge success of her products, Speciose’s decided to focus on her baking and opened up Le Grenier. Le Grenier is a bakery specializing in production and sales of baking products and its main clientele is middle to low income locals. Speciose’s bread is especially popular amongst the youth. Since opening in 2013, Le Grenier has seen a rapid increase in demand for their bakery products, outgrowing their own small retail space and expanding by selling bakery products wholesale to local schools in the region. Despite its popularity and the fact that demand far exceeded Le Grenier’s capacity, the bakery could not expand without working capital and capital expenditure investments. Le Grenier was unable to access traditional financing from the bank since it lacked the type of collateral typically required.

35SPARK Rwanda - Speciose Byukusenge - Le Grenier bakery - Jeppe Schilder

In 2013, Speciose won a business plan competition organized by Spark and Rwanda Tourism University College (RTUC) with her bakery, which instantly put her on the radar of the Ignite Fund. Le Grenier showed great potential and eligibility throughout the competition. Although her production level was low, the bakery had a high market demand with secured contracts with schools and other big institutions. Spark joined to evaluate her marketing and investment plan and concluded that her business was worth investing in. Through the Ignite Fund, Speciose is able to cover her market scope, buy necessary machines to increase production and improve her distribution channels. The Ignite Fund took a 40% share in the company and invested €70,000 to spend on machinery and the launch of several sales outlets. With the help of the Ignite Fund, the bakery is already increasing its production capacity by 5 times. With improved technology, new machines, the opening of 6 additional retail locations and funds to meet the current high demand for its products, Le Grenier is setup for success and further expansion. Speciose also receives world class management support in finance, operations and marketing in order to utilize the funds and resources most effectively and sustainably as well as receiving continued guidance and advice to steer the business to fulfill its full potential.

During the next 3 years, Ignite Fund will continue to support and boost the company to a higher level, focusing on business processes, expansion and finance, meanwhile sharing revenues. Currently the bakery supplies incoming clients and schools from its head quarters, but at the end of 3 years, Le Grenier and the Ignite Fund plan to have a minimum of 6 sales points. Speciose is now looking forward to expanding her company and offering even higher quality products to her customers.

SPARK IGNITE is SPARK’s blog of stories, updates and opinions by SPARK staff, on relevant topics in the news, stories from the fields, and what inspire us to do what we do.  We welcome external contributions; to contribute please contact media[at]