People in All Nations Want this Bread
At first encounter, Abdul Kamara is like an enthusiastic friend, excited to see you after a long absence, and as you get to know him, his generosity and genuine friendliness feel perfectly natural. His story with SEED Winnipeg, and his business journey,
He has completed the first phase of SEED’s Business & Enterprise Support & Training program (BEST). Taught over six weeks, the first phase seeks to determine the viability of a potential business idea. “I’m so proud of that certificate.” Abdul is the founder of a small baking start-up business, Real Buns.
Abdul came to Winnipeg from a Sierra Leone bakery where he was well-respected. “The owner cried when I was leaving”, Abdul recounts. “He said, ‘Not that I don’t want you to go to Canada, but in your absence, my business is going down!’” Abdul laughs, “I cried too, but I trained my co-workers.”
Flash forward from 2001 through his stints in many local bakeries. “I worked for the big bakeries, I cannot speak against them, but…” The feeling, the joy he had experienced in Sierra Leone was gone. The work conditions were not ideal, and the pay made it difficult to support his family.
Eventually he left each successive bakery, an overqualified employee working entry-level positions. His awards and credentials got him hired on the spot at each new kitchen, and his work ethic and cheerful disposition has guaranteed him standing job offers from employers who were sad to see him go.
Abdul settled in at the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WHRA) in July 2006, an organization where he continues to work today, and feels is better suited to his people-oriented vision for his life. “I only want to make people happy.”
I only want to make people happy
He continued to bake a limited amount of bread in his kitchen to give freely every other Sunday at his church, earning him the affectionate title of ‘Bread Man’ among the kids of his congregation. Whereas most people receive gifts on their birthday, Abdul will take time off work and bake for two and a half days to bring a loaf of bread to every member of his church. “The children are happy and the families are happy! Everyone prays for me to succeed and get work.”
One day, his manager at the WRHA pointed Abdul towards SEED Winnipeg. He came to SEED and was accepted into the BEST program to create a business model and learn how to operate as an entrepreneur in the Canadian business system. He smiles, reminiscing about the quality of the program and the positivity of the staff: “They are very, very good people, and I am always happy when I think of them.”
Abdul is now taking steps towards creating a self-sustaining business, a process that is ongoing. At the time Abdul was interviewed, he was visiting industrial spaces for lease, and finalizing the nutritional labeling process. “That’s what I’m waiting for, and I need help so that I can establish my business.” This is the role SEED responds to; helping talented and motivated individuals get oriented in a system that is new or foreign to them.
As for Abdul, he already has a long list of clients interested in a large roll out of his services. He intends to begin by targeting individual clients and small businesses. “It’s not only me I am trying for. I need people to be with me. I want to hire people.”
There is gratitude plainly evident in the way Abdul speaks of his life and opportunities, and a clear desire to pay them forward. Just as he one day intends to teach future employees the tricks of the bakery trade, he is already preparing his son for success in business. He is raising his eighteen-year old to share his values, and also his drive.
While Abdul Kamara’s business is still in process, it’s a safe bet he will continue to move forward with joy and positivity. SEED is proud to work alongside people who shape the community we work and live in. We look forward to SEED’s continued presence in Abdul’s journey.