Borneo Restaurant as a case study
When I started the market, it was born out of a need to help local farmers and producers I had come across, that had been having a hard time getting their product to market and/or maximizing their reach to the community. Several were being squeezed by middle men and almost all had been failed by them in regards to ensuring that all their produce was sold off at a healthy price margin.
You see, when you have no idea how to get your product to market, it’s very easy to be exploited by those who do. They smell the urgency and desperation from you to sell off your products as quickly as possible and this makes you an easy target.
So how as a business owner can you empower yourself to ensure that you don’t have products rotting or gathering dust?
There are very many ways to let consumers know what you are producing (this shall be a story for another blog) but today, I shall tackle using your local farmers market as a tool for growing your business.
Borneo Restaurant is an Indonesian restaurant that was started around 19 months ago by a couple Fetty Fatimah and Sanjeev Kumar. I was introduced to them by another vendor, Delicious Tofu, ran by a young man who was building his business, while going to University full time.
At the time, they had been in operation for around 6 months and were struggling to get consumers through their doors. They were in an area of town called Kinamba, that is mainly filled with small hotels and numerous other businesses that were not really in line with what they were trying to build.
Now, if you live in Kigali, you know every other week there is a new restaurant coming up at every corner. The competition for the same demographic of people is fierce so you have to stand out in order to make that coin. As I write this blog, Borneo has since moved to the upper scale neighbourhood of Kimihurura and they can’t seem to keep the consumers off and they are definitely smiling at their growth from humble beginnings. Every lunch time, there are droves of people coming to sample their authentic Indonesian meals. I was able to have a conversation with Fetty, to understand how they got there, how the market contributed to their success but most importantly, what they can say to encourage other small businesses in the same road of growth they are in.
- Farmers markets are great for introducing new brands or new lines of products
As the market is at the grass root level, you get first hand feedback and ideas from consumers. As the producer, you are able to explain what your brand stands for, what your products are, what goes into making your products and any other information that might be useful in creating that awareness about your business. Borneo quickly learnt from their first market experience that there was a great need for healthy vegetarian options that are quick to make and by the 2nd time to the market, they brought exactly that, even taking it to the next level by preparing the foods on site for consumers to see. Every month for the year they were with us, they kept tweaking their menu, retaining those meals that were popular and introducing new ones till they were able to get the perfect balance.
- Building brand Loyalty
Brand loyalty is created when consumers trust your brand to give them what you say will give them in a consistent and professional manner.
Borneo, first listened to the customers’ needs then, they proceeded to give the consumer what they wanted with efficiency. Every market day they attended found their stand very busy with consumers waiting to taste their favourite snacks.
- Driving traffic to your physical and/or online store
Our market runs once per month so it’s vital for vendors to let the consumers know how they can be reached outside market days.
As mentioned earlier, Borneo had a very small restaurant in an area that wasn’t truly matching their vision. They however still made it work by sharing with consumers their business cards and phone numbers on market day and letting them know that they can be reached on other days.
- Getting ideas thought out of the box
We are wired to think and act in certain ways as human beings and sometimes, we need a certain jolt or eye opener to rewire or brains. Markets are great to get you looking at your business in a different light and coming up with new ideas to put you ahead of your competitors.
Borneo used this effectively by introducing vegetarian options in the market. Though they were already selling them at their restaurant, that’s what they became known for in our platform and they rode with that and still do.
- Help your business find its niche
At the market, we strive to adhere to a no replication rule. This essentially means that we don’t allow duplication of products. Granted, this does narrow our pool of potential vendors, but it is important to do this to help vendors maximize their sales on market day and also give a fair chance for a vendor to critically assess what works for them or doesn’t. As these businesses already face competition in their every day running of operations, it made sense to us for them to have a place where they can stand out on their own and shine for what they do.
Tied to the previous point, Borneo learnt that not only could they make vegetarian snacks that are hits but, they could take it a step further by focusing on what they knew best..Indonesian cuisine. Many market visitors, including myself, had never tried this kind of cuisine before and I must tell you, the look on the face of consumers when they took their first bite was, and still is, a site to behold. Since I love food, I always get an internal smile when I see this look. It means the vendor has not only done their job but, they’ve done it well and gained a follower – which is why the market was started.
Borneo no longer come to the market and we miss them terribly but, I’m comforted by the fact they are busy every weekend doing either outside catering or other gigs as they continue on their journey. Fetty definitely feels that their move to join the market played an instrumental role in growing their name and presence. Perseverance, hard work and having an open mind are other factors that she felt one needs to have to grow their business and I definitely agree.
Borneo restaurant is located on KG 4 Ave 18 Kimihurura. Their lunch buffet is from 1200-1500 hrs and they are open daily from 1000-2200 hrs. Here is the kind of food you can expect from their lunch buffet menu: Pilau rice, Cap cay, Fried Chicken wings, Noodles omelettes, Beef curry, Bakwan, Fried flour Tofu, Mixed vegetables with tofu, Vegetables fried noodles, Vegetables soup, Salad, Sambal, Fruits, Peanut sauce all for just Rwf 4000 and comes with free doughnut.
KFAAM and other farmers markets play an important role in the community of giving a platform for businesses to grow and move on to bigger and better things, making room for the next business that needs this support. That in mind, as we approach the #womensday market in March which will be held at Kigali Serena Hotel from 1200-1800 hrs, we are pushing this agenda further by running a Facebook giveaway from 13th to 20th Feb where we are giving women-led businesses an opportunity to win free space and services at the market for up to 3 months.
You could be the next business ready to tell a story of how a farmers’ market helped you grow your business.
Follow this link for details on how to enter >kigalifarmersandartisansmarket.com/giveaways
Contacts> +250 785 775 703 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The opinions stated here are of the author and it’s imperative that one does their own extensive research before employing any business strategy
Flo Mwashimba is the founder of KFAAM and is strongly passionate about supporting SMEs, micro and home industries run by women, youth and PLWD in the community