Barbara Ndugbu: Building a Forbes-Class Business with Baking

WiredIn (Innovation and Technology)

Barbara Ndugbu: Building a Forbes-Class Business with Baking

Barbara Ndugbu: Building a Forbes-Class Business with Baking

No one can predict the future, but I always knew and believed I possessed something yet to be explored. I believed I would be successful, but didn’t know how, where and when it would happen. My focus, drive, and constant hunger for success affirmed my vision. And so did my business and life.  


My Driving Force

To understand what drives me, I knew I had to have a clear idea of what my ‘why’ was. 

The ‘why’ behind my journey has always been: to live the life I deserve, take care of my needs effortlessly, invest and secure my future. 

I always ask myself if I know what I want to achieve, why, and if I am hungry for it. These questions help me put the goal in perspective. If I am hungry enough, I am definitely on my way to achieving it. This is what has always been my driving force. My goals and aspirations are my major driving force. 


Memorable Milestones

As the first Nigerian Baker on the Forbes 30 under 30 Africa power list, 2019 remains one of my most memorable milestones.

It was, for me, a huge achievement, and I am utterly proud of getting such recognition for the work I do. 

One saying I love so much from former US First Lady Michelle Obama is “there’s no limit to what a woman can achieve.” This saying has fueled a lot of things I have gone to do and achieve in my life. 


Lessons Learnt

I have picked up a few lessons over the years since I’ve been in business. These lessons have shaped my growth and help me navigate business’s murky waters. 

One thing that stands out is always to know what you stand for and what you don’t. I stand for persistence, hard work, and never taking shortcuts. It gives you clarity. 

This way, I am clear on my values. Another lesson I have picked is to never rest on your exam laurels. Instead, always strive for something outside of your comfort zone, and take the risks that move you somewhere new. 

I changed the course of my career at 25, and kick-started my business, and it has brought me thus far.

Don’t be afraid to do the unexpected. That nervousness you feel means you’re growing. Trust your inner compass, even when naysayers do not. But, above all, always remain humble. 

The more knowledgeable you are, the more comfortable you feel. It’s always better to give more credit than you take. Also, never stop learning because it gives you courage.


On Women Empowerment

It is important to note that, in many ways, the work field is still tilted in favor of men. The economics of inclusion is compelling, yet there is a gap between what the data tells us and the experiences of women encounter in their careers. 

I believe so much in Gender Equality. In all works of life, all genders should be given equal opportunities to thrive and explore their untapped talents. 

For all I know, the future is female. There has been a notable paradigm shift in society. Women are advancing, making big moves, and killing it in their careers. Take, for example, the likes of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. She is doing very well and inspires young girls. 

I have a degree in a supposedly male-dominated course/area of specialization — Electrical Engineering. 

In retrospect, one would think I wouldn’t be able to cope with such a tasking course like engineering, but I did, and in flying colors. 

Women are intelligent, fast-thinkers, great leaders, and everything a man can be. They should be given a fair chance. 

At Oven Secret Bakery, we empower women by training and encouraging them to acquire a skill, start their businesses and conquer the world. 

Our staff is made up of 70% women. We give scholarships and internship opportunities to women who show interest but can’t afford the training fees. 



My Spark has been God and His gift to me, my talent. This is the superpower that has helped me through. 

I’d say be patient for those looking to discover what The Spark is for them. Patience is a virtue. Focus on your path and strive to be better than you were yesterday. Always remember to only outdo yourself, not people. Confidence has no competition.