Our mission at New England Cheesemaking Supply Company is to help cheese makers around the world fulfill whatever dreams they have. Usually this involves making the leap into selling cheese professionally. Ricki (the Cheese Queen) has helped countless home cheese makers start their own businesses and most of them have been very successful.
Baker Muwonge’s dream is a little different. He made the decision to become a cheese maker many years ago. He has been buying his milk from local farmers and making cheese for 16 years in Kampala, Uganda (located in the middle of the country.)
Baker’s dream is to have a large dairy, providing employment for many people and making a difference in the local economy. He has been pursuing this dream relentlessly as long as we have known him and he is not likely to give up. In fact, we fully expect him to achieve his goal and we fully support his dream.
We did an article about Baker Muwonge and his dairy two years ago (click here). At that time, Baker had just completed the installation of his new equipment and opened his new dairy. He had done this by borrowing a lot of money at a high interest rate. He was able to do this based on the strength of the overwhelming amount of milk produced in his community.
It was unfortunate that Baker had to do all this himself. When the president of Uganda had toured Baker’s cheese making business in 2010, he had been impressed by Baker’s set-up and motivation to support his community. The president had promised Baker a low interest loan from his Ministry of Finance to purchase equipment. Unfortunately, that never happened.
Baker opted to secure these loans himself at high interest rates (17 and 26%). He purchased the equipment and installed it in his newly constructed building. He had received a large order to supply cheese which did not materialize due to lack of enough working capital to produce 7 tons of Mozzarella.
For the last 2 years, Baker has been struggling to have his new equipment up and running, which would provide him with the ability to expand his market. However, the loans he secured were called in by the bank and now the bank has foreclosed on the equipment until the loan is fully paid. Baker is trying to buy it back from the bank with a bit of cash he has, but he will need a large amount of capital to do this.
Friends have suggested a Kickstarter campaign (or some other fundraising effort) but that is required to be handled by a US citizen. Our hope in writing this article is that someone with fundraising experience might be able to help Baker with his project.
The dairy provides income to small farmers and to many others in the Baale sub county area and Baker employs women in jobs which were traditionally male. Baker made a film about cheese making and his community of small farmers to show how he helps the local economy and how he supports women in his dairy:
Baker feels confident that if he can buy back his equipment from the bank, he will have enough orders to continue where he left off. With the equipment installed, he has the ability to produce other dairy products besides cheese, including pasteurized milk and yogurt. These products will help him to expand his market and create another channel of income.
Meanwhile, Baker and his staff have gone back to their old dairy facility where they are continuing to make cheese under somewhat primitive conditions. If you think you might be of help to Baker, please contact him:
Muwonge Baker, Managing Director
Seasons Dairy Limited
Plot 53, Block 48 Baale West, Kayunga
P.O. Box 29532, Kampala – Uganda.