Start ups in Nigeria go through hard times in trying to get their business past the growth phase. In my instagram post here i talked about my desire to wok with start ups this year. The need to work on this idea was cemented on independence day last year.
The inspiration came, and suddenly I figured i could do something with what i have (this blog) to help the Nigerian struggle and encourage entrepreneurs.
On this segment of the blog, we will showcase start ups and small/medium scale enterprises that are managing to make things happen from the confines of their home. I hope you will be inspired to put action to that little idea and start adding value to people, because only then can a start up become a million dollar enterprise.
We are kicking off this series with someone i choose to address as The Bake “n” Swallow Boss :
IFL:Let’s meet you? Name academic qualification hobbies/interest, marital status, number1 item in your bucket? birth date
B”n”S Boss: Am Ijeoma Ezenne Maduekwe, Bsc Biochemistry Caritas university Enugu, My hobbies are researching and experimenting new things especially about fitness, food , beauty and health. I Love keeping fit too. The number 1 item in my bucket list is success. Well I’m also interested in empowering women in my own little way. D.O.B – 18 August .
IFL: What was your biggest challenge starting out and how did it transition from a simple idea to a business system?
B”n”S Boss: Biggest challenge starting, was the capital and acquiring the machines and equipment needed for the business. I have always wanted to setup a heathy food and beverage company for the health conscious minds, aged, and patients of diabetics, High blood pressure and so on. This is because apart from buying the expensive drugs, they also can’t find the right food to eat and most a times they are eating the wrong things and avoiding what is good for them. So I did my research and experimented with myself and it worked. Eating right can go a long way in extending our life span. With that I began to make small quantities for friends and families. With the feedback I got from them which by the way was good, I decided it’s time to make this a business.
IFL: How many small businesses do you own and are you looking to add more streams of income?
B”n”S Boss: This is my 1st business and I hope to add more streams of income as you said … lol.
IFL: Why did you venture into entrepreneurship? What’s the most advantage being an entrepreneur has afforded you? If you had a white/blue collar job will prefer to be on both ends?
B”n”S Boss: Why I ventured into entrepreneurship? Hmmm being your own boss feels good. Well being a mother of 3 and waking up as early 4 or 4:30am to get the kids ready for school and also for me to beat the traffic and get to work early was very very stressful coupled with fact that I have to leave my kids in the hands of a nanny or house help. Infact my 2 yrs old son at the time, had adenoids and tussle that was causing seizures to his breath, most times I leave work before time to go on ENT appointments or get a call from school that he is sick. At a point I realized I had to get something that will give me more time to take care of him. These all helped to speed up the process because like I said, I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur.
Hmmmm… I will not like to be on both ends just because, I like being free to do what ever I like. So holding the both can’t give me that free time and one job will be suffering. None will be at its best because it’s just like serving two masters at a time. So It won’t hold.
I really can’t say much on advantage for now because i am just starting, but I can say I have more time for my kids now which is very important for me. Now I get to attend their school activities and follow them up on their homework and school activities. I also have time for myself …lol, plus less stress.
Do you have any exciting/embarrassing event related to customer/client relationship you would wanna share?
Exciting event… sure! Trying out the machines and equipment, they are just like new toys and everyone enjoy’s playing with their new toys right?
Embarrassing event hmmm… lol, I invited a friend to show off my machines and she decided to bring something to mill only for the hammer mill (grinder) to malfunction. I turned into a maintenance engineer not even knowing what’s wrong with it, only for my friend to show me that something is blocking it. Can u imagine? who was suppose to tell who? Well…like they say “learning never ends”.
IFL: What is the challenge you face in growing your business, that is peculiar to you by virtue of being a Nigerian?
B”n”S Boss: Capital is the no 1. Then there is discouragement from the people you trust the most. Another one is power supply, this ehh… can even stop the business. The issue of staff is another one, then the huge sum being required for CAC registration/trademarks, then there is Nafdac – this is another different story. It’s goes on and on but let me leave it here for now. Maybe Ijefine will give me a platform to talk about that later. Because setting up SMES in this country is something else.
Will you say you have grown to the level you expected yourself to be? What is your number one secret of success?
No I haven’t infact am still pushing to get to that level and when I get there, I’ll set another level. That’s life for you. Number one secret of success for me, is maintaining good quality products. No compromise. For instance if I say, this is what the nutritional value of these product is, then that is what it is!.
IFL: What misconception did someone ever have about you/your brand/entrepreneurs that you found yourself wishing you could change? (you know like setting the record straight 🙄)
B”n”S: Misconception?? okooo Alot ooo but let me talk about this one. You know we educated people always want to show ourselves lol . Just some few days ago I was talking to this pharmacist friend of mine about the health benefits of potato and tigernut flour, then he just made a statement like, Are u sure of what you are saying? sweet potato is too sweet and the glycemic index will be high….okay ooo. I just looked at him and said go and do your findings on sweet potato. But how I wish I set the record straight by educating him on the sweet potato and tigernut flour health benefits.
SWEET POTATO FLOUR FOR BAKING
Now about my brand I have people asking questions like are you sure this flour is good ?, Hope say e go last?, Madam how you take know the expiring date?, Hope say you no dey do am for your kitchen?, My Sis or Madam which one be potato flour again? Wetin dem dey use am do? and so on….at that point it will be as if all your brain is blank. hmm…But once the person leaves the answers will start coming then.
I will be like I should have told this woman that “the moisture is very very low and once it is airtight it can last more dan a year”. I will be talking to myself saying “Why did I tell that woman that apart from ‘swallow‘ you can also use it to bake’. They say practice makes perfect so now I don’t make such mistakes again.
SWEET POTATO FLOUR FOR SWALLOW
Then as an entrepreneur, people, my friends, and family members come up to me saying “Why do you want to Stress your self?”, Who will look after my kids when am working?”, “Ijeoma is your hubby not giving you enough money?”, u know ….all sorts of things. But I thank God that such things did not discourage me instead it gave me strength to keep pushing.
I regret not telling them that I want to be an independent woman. I also don’t want to be a parasite, or that woman that goes rushing out early for work. Being locked up in one office is tying one’s potentials. I call it prison – physical and spiritual prison. I mean, “What have you achieved for yourself as a human being?”, Mba ooo my dear lose your self from that bondage!
IFL: How old is/are your business? What are the future plans for your brand and what do you want your brand to be remembered for?
B”n”S: Well my biz is just starting. My future plan for my brand is to be known and seen in every part of the kitchen of homes in Nigeria and other parts of the world. I want my brand to be remembered for its uniqueness, which is 100% natural no chemical additives, no bleaching agent. Just simply unique and made according to good GMP ( good manufacturing practice) process.
IFL: Were are you located? How affordable are your products/services ?
B”n”S: Am located in lagos. My products are very very very affordable and not something that will cost you much and it’s a necessity for the healthy conscious minds.
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”- Chinese Proverb
Are you an aspiring entrepreneur? or Are still stuck in trying to decide? Are there any answers you will want to get? Did you find this post helpful? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.
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The last of such interview post as this one, I spoke to another Ijay, Author and fellow Blogger here. Thats another woman doing great stuff, you should check it out if you missed it.
I hope you are inspired to take action today.
Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land. Ecc 11 vs 2