Simret Abate: The BreadWinner


Turning Flour to Fortune...

She is behind one of the most recognizable bakery stores in Addis Ababa. Looking at how she has grown her business, one might have a hard time believing that she started it in her home. In this article, we bring you Simret Abate, the founder of Mulmul Bakery. She shares with us her challenges, triumphs, and the lessons she learned along the way.

Mulmul’s Beginning

Simret’s journey into business was out of necessity. As a single mom of three children, she was looking for ways to support herself and her children. While exploring possible business ventures, she observed the lack of good quality bakeries. That’s how she had the idea of opening a bakery. Simret says that many people were critical of her idea, thinking she would fail. “But I didn’t listen, because I didn’t have a choice,” says Simret. The need to provide for her family fueled her determination to start Mulmul.

Although Simret didn’t lack in determination, she lacked in resources. She began her home-based bakery company by investing the little money she had in a bakery oven. She felt she could use further training even though she had experience baking for her family. She enlisted assistance and completed the required training. Simret attributes the creation of the name Mulmul to her kids.

In the starting stages of Mulmul, Simret was taking care of everything. She would bake, deliver, and manage her bakery while also taking care of her children, who were young at the time. Simret is amazed by the tenacity she had during this stage of her life.

Challenges Faced

Simret's ambition grew as Mulmul began to take hold. To facilitate the distribution of her products to supermarkets and stores, she took out a loan from a bank and invested in a minivan. However, late payments caused her to face challenges leading her to abandon her plan to supply to stores. Instead, she shifted her focus to opening her stores.

Simret encountered another obstacle in maintaining her machines. The costs associated with obtaining spare parts and necessary manpower posed a significant challenge. Additionally, shortages and inflation hurt her profits.

The main lesson Simret gained from these challenges was finding a way out no matter what.  Whenever faced with a predicament, she focuses on the solution instead of dwelling on the problem.

Paying it forward

Simret's experiences with adversity have instilled in her a deep commitment to assisting others. From the inception of Mulmul, she has made a practice of providing sustenance to the homeless and destitute. As Mulmul has expanded, so too has Simret's philanthropic efforts. Each of Mulmul's branches now supplies food to at least ten individuals in need, and Simret continues to contribute to charitable causes and collaborate with NGOs.

Cultivating Talent from Within

Mulmul currently employs over 600 individuals, and according to Simret, many of them have been with the company for over 20 years. Simret fosters a positive and collaborative work environment, referring to her employees as colleagues. She is a strong believer in employee training and growth, having undergone training herself before starting Mulmul. While she is dedicated to facilitating the growth of her employees, she also maintains a strict standard of discipline and respect within the company. These values are integral to Mulmul, and Simret expects all employees to uphold and embody them. 

Daily Routine and Family Life

Simret starts her day with prayer. She expresses her gratitude for how long she has come. Exercise is also part of Simret’s morning routine, after which she heads to work. Simret spends her days handling the different aspects of Mulmul.

Apart from being a successful businesswoman, Simret is also a dedicated mother to her three children. Balancing the two is a challenging feat.  But Simret says that her life revolves around her faith, work, and children. She says that they have been helping her with Mulmul since its inception. Currently, her eldest child has taken the role of manager in Mulmul. 

It all comes down to focus

Simret speaks from personal experience about the importance of focus. She stresses the need to concentrate on a goal and stay disciplined to achieve success. Simret also places a great emphasis on her faith, which helps her maintain integrity and a spirit of generosity. Mulmul, with its core values of discipline, empathy, and family, continues to expand under Simret's leadership. As one of Ethiopia's leading bakery service providers, Mulmul has already achieved a great deal, and Simret has big plans for the future. Although it remains to be seen what she will unveil next, customers can continue to count on the uncompromising quality that they have come to expect from Mulmul.

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