During the Autumn of 2010, good friends Marie Nygårds and Kicki Unga sat down together to investigate possible business ventures. A 15-year-old friendship, a strong will and a longing back home to Jokkmokk were the motivational forces behind K&M – Bakery and Country Store. However, it appeared that their dream may be short-lived when it proved to be difficult to secure financing for the business.
The company offers a wide selection of carefully selected products with a local, ethical and green profile. The store’s concept has been well received and it has now blossomed into a popular tourist attraction. The store also provides vital community services to boost the surrounding countryside. These include Apoteket, Systembolaget, DHL, Bussgods and most recently, a cash deposit service.
”We usually joke that K&M- bakery and country store was conceived over a bottle of wine in the mountains” says Kicki Unga.
The pair spent almost 18 months from initial idea until start of trading with all planning and preparation for their company. They were able to identify what type of services that their village lacked after discussions with the local ski resort Kåbdalis skidliftar. The answer turned out to be a country store with an in-house bakery. However, neither Kicki or Marie had any previous experience of running this type of business. What they both did possess, was a strong belief and determination to open up their own country store. One of the greatest challenges that they faced in the start-up phase was to obtain financing for their business plan.
”At first, no banks were willing to invest in us, even when we both of course devoted capital and long hours to the business development. We felt that we needed help to improve our negotiation skills and therefore sought out a mentor. Amongst other things, she advised us to get in contact with Jokkmokks Allmänning AB in able to borrow the final portion of the funding” relates Kicki.
Kicki and Mari polished up their business plan and booked in a meeting with Jokkmokks Allmänning AB. Their idea was greeted positively by Jokkmokks Allmänning AB who were happy to grant their loan application. Thus K&M Country Store and Bakery had the final piece of the puzzle in place so they could open up their shop.
“It was totally decisive for us to secure financial support from Jokkmokks Allmänning AB. Without this, we would not have had the economic resources to launch the business”
This April, K&M Country Store and Bakery was awarded the distinction of ”Rural Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Rural Economy and Agricultural Society in Northern Sweden. Kicki and Mari have high expectations for the future of the country store.
”We shall continue to develop in sync with Kåbdalis village. We also have a lot of new exciting plans on the go. I sadly cannot reveal any more about these just now” smiles Kicki secretively.