Africa should set its sights on feeding the world – Sola David-Borha, CEO Standard Bank Group (Africa)

Sola David-Borha is the Chief Executive of Africa Regions at Standard Bank. In this article, she shares her insights on opportunities in the Agriculture industry.

Motherland Moguls, you don’t want to miss out on this one.

Africa needs to make more food

With the world population expected to swell by 2 billion people over the next three decades, Africa has an opportunity to step up and become a major global food production hub.

For the time being, Africa remains a net importer of food, despite its vast tracts of underutilized land and other enviable natural resources. Its reliance on food imports weighs on the continent’s current account and spells a missed economic opportunity.

Source: Unctad, Rabobank
With the right policies, technologies, and infrastructure in place, Africa has the potential to first meet its own food requirements, and then exceed them – Sola David-Borha, CEO Standard Bank Group (Africa) Click To Tweet

The agricultural sector is possibly the continent’s biggest growth lever, with a sizeable potential for much-needed job creation. This is especially poignant considering that Africa is estimated to hold about 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land. Of the land that is cultivated, yields remain extremely low and irrigation techniques dated.

Agribusiness is the next big hustle

The adoption of modern and innovative farming practices could spur a step-change in the output of existing and new farmlands. The Netherlands, a country that is roughly 3.4% the size of South Africa by land area, provides a good example – being the world’s second-largest exporter of food by value, despite its size, thanks to high yields.

Meanwhile, Brazil shows that it is possible for an emerging market to shift from a net importer of food to a net exporter. The South American country did so through trade liberalization and investments in agricultural research, among other initiatives.

Africa is still only scratching the surface of its potential in the agribusiness game – Sola David-Borha, CEO Standard Bank Group (Africa) Click To Tweet

To shift the industry onto a new trajectory, a combined effort between policymakers, financial services firms and the industry itself will be needed.

What you should be thinking about

Financial services should consider how they can facilitate the sector’s growth by providing sustainable finance solutions across the agriculture value chain.

Investments in areas such as logistics, renewable energy, warehousing, and other storage facilities, agro-processing plants, and irrigation technologies will be crucial, as will public investments in road and rail infrastructure as well as ports.

Access to markets is also an important focus area, and measures to tackle this issue will boost the entire agricultural value chain.

Policymakers can play their part by creating an enabling investment environment, as countries such as Kenya have done.

To align policies across the continent, governments should consider existing frameworks. Regulations should be aimed at striking a balance between economic growth and safeguarding Africa’s natural environment.

Encouragingly, the imminent implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will lower tariffs and promote intra-African trade in agriculture, making the continent less reliant on food imports from other regions. And through cross-border initiatives, Africa could strengthen its food export prospects.

Standard Bank is funding African Agribusinesses

African states and farming groups would also do well to adopt ‘smart farming’ concepts. Standard Bank, for instance, in partnership with technology companies, has piloted projects that use drones to monitor the health of crops, and digital technologies to monitor and regulate soil moisture in order to save water by avoiding unnecessary irrigation.

Standard Bank is also working with development finance institutions and export agencies to develop sustainable finance solutions specifically for the sector. We are funding projects that allow small-scale farmers to transform themselves into contractors that supply commercial farmers.

An opportunity for African Women

Climate change poses a serious risk to Africa’s food security – and the world’s. The effects are already being felt – Tropical Cyclone Idai caused unprecedented damage in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi less than a year ago, while catastrophic droughts and flooding have affected South Africa and East Africa, among other regions. Currently, the devastating locust invasion in East Africa – Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia specifically – is threatening food security in the region.

Considering that agriculture already accounts for a large portion of Africa’s GDP, the impact of climate change on the economy can be severe.

Another risk is that the expansion of Africa’s agricultural sector will place more strain on the continent’s water resources, which need to be carefully managed. The adoption of advanced irrigation techniques is a good start.

Standard Bank recently partnered with the United Nations (UN) Women on a project aimed at developing climate-smart farming techniques amongst rural women. The initiative is being rolled out in Uganda, South Africa, Malawi, and Nigeria.

While the sector’s future is not without its risks, it may well be Africa’s biggest opportunity in the coming decades. Being a major contributor to GDP and employment, the agribusiness sector is the continent’s most effective lever for achieving inclusive growth.

About Standard Bank Group

Standard Bank Group is the largest African bank by assets with a unique footprint across 20 African countries. Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, we are listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, with share code SBK, and the Namibian Stock Exchange, share code SNB.  

Standard Bank has a 156-year history in South Africa and started building a franchise outside southern Africa in the early 1990s. 

Our strategic position, which enables us to connect Africa to other select emerging markets as well as pools of capital in developed markets, and our balanced portfolio of businesses, provide significant opportunities for growth.  

The group has over 53 000 employees, approximately 1 200 branches and over 9 000 ATMs on the African continent, which enable it to deliver a complete range of services across personal and business banking, corporate and investment banking and wealth management.  

Headline earnings for 2018 were R27.9 billion (about USD2.1 billion) and total assets were R2.1 trillion (about USD148 billion). Standard Bank’s market capitalisation at 31 December 2018 was R289 billion (USD20 billion). 

The group’s largest shareholder is the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the world’s largest bank, with a 20,1% shareholding. In addition, Standard Bank Group and ICBC share a strategic partnership that facilitates trade and deal flow between Africa, China and select emerging markets. 

For further information, go to  


5 halal & budget-friendly ways to eat well during a busy week

Fatimah is a Motherland Mogul writer based in Nigeria. She has written over 6,500 minutes of television while working on African telenovelas like Battleground: The Final Showdown, Unbroken and EVE on Africa Magic. When she is not writing, she shares food recipes and tips on her Instagram page – @lazyhalalkitchen.

In this article, she shares 5 tips for fellow Motherland Moguls on how to eat well on a busy schedule. As a bonus, she’s kept it halal!

If you live and work in a busy city like Lagos or Johannesburg, you are more likely to have an unhealthy diet. It’s easier to find a quick unhealthy bite than cook a healthy meal when you are busy. However, working hard should never be at the detriment of your health.

In addition to eating well, if you are Muslim like me, it’s important in your daily life to keep your diet in line with the guidelines of the Qur’an.

Halal? Haram? Mashbooh? – What does it all mean?

Here are my tips on 5 simple and affordable ways to eat well while on a busy schedule.

1. Keep It Simple

Eating soups, stews, wraps, smoothies, and sandwiches are a great way to maintain a halal and healthy diet when you are busy. Focus on using ingredients that are versatile, easy to get, and quick to prep. You can never go wrong with tomatoes, peppers, canned corn/beans, and eggs.

2. Use Everything

Before you think you need to spend money restocking groceries, think about your unused ingredients. Are you really done with that remaining bowl of frozen bananas or can of unopened cashews?

Don’t be afraid to break a few rules and get creative with your recipes. Try swapping out flour for bananas and oatmeal to make pancakes. Substitute cooking cream with cashews to make a plate of creamy pasta. Blend up your peanuts to make a sauce that can work for rice or pasta. 

Not sure what to make? Use sites and apps like Yummly, Supercook, and MyFridgeFood to figure out what you can make with the ingredients you have.

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Banana Oatmeal Pancakes 🥞

A post shared by FREE Eid Recipes in Bio. (@lazyhalalkitchen) on

3. Use It Again!

Do. Not. Ever. Waste. Food.

It is halal to stay nourished by eating all you have been blessed with. Food waste is also the largest contributor to climate change. Whatever the reason, it is important for all of us to keep our food consumption sustainable.

So you made a huge pot of soup and you’re no longer feeling it? Reheat your soup, add a bowl of water and throw in a cup or two of rice or pasta. You are saving time, money, helping the planet and raking up those blessings. Most importantly, you are staying healthy so you can crush work.

4. Buy Only What You Need

If you’re a foodie like me, the temptation of buying everything from the grocery store or market is real!

Going grocery shopping without a plan is the worst thing you can for your bank account. Make a list and buy only what you need for the next two weeks. This is especially important if you don’t have time to prep your meals. Buying in bulk will overwhelm you, strain your wallet and lead to food wastage.

Think about what you’d like to eat (or remake 😉) and focus on buying the products for that.

5. Prioritize Quality

It is halal to eat in moderation and keep your plate healthy. Staying committed to eating well is easier when you pay attention to what’s going on your plate. When you are busy, find time on your weekend to make a huge bowl of healthy salad that can last for the week.

A halal lifestyle of nourishment is – ⅓ food, ⅓ water, and ⅓ air. No matter how busy you get, make sure you prioritize your health by eating well, drinking lots of water. and getting a good intake of air from exercise.

What tips will you use to stay committed to eating well?

Foodie? Get your eats on in Joburg at #SLAYFestival2020

Isioma Onyegikei: Social media has helped reach our target audience

Isioma Onyegikei

It has not been so difficult to sell food online – Isioma Onyegikei Click To Tweet

24-year-old Isioma Onyegikei is the founder and head cook at Brelunds, a food service provider startup in Lagos, Nigeria.

Her startup offers services which include the running of office cafeterias, breakfast, and lunch weekly subscription plans, events catering, bulk soup and stew preparation.

Isioma officially began Brelunds in September 2015 with a standard menu consisting of Nigerian dishes, finger foods, and Nigerian street foods. She is a graduate of Political science and public administration from the University of Benin, Nigeria.

What inspired your decision to start a food retail business?

The decision to start a food retail business was inspired by my experience as an employee for another company. I resumed work very early and got home very late due to heavy traffic in the city. Saturdays were the only days I rested, did chores and caught up with friends. On Sundays, I go to church and prepare ahead for the next week.

I realized that it was the reality of most of my colleagues. Some even had to work on weekends too. Cooking is a huge chore because time and rest in Lagos is a luxury to a typical Lagosian. So I started out by making and delivering bowls of soup and stew.

My intention was to ease my client of cooking as a chore, an important human need. Along the line, the idea of a weekly lunch plan to be delivered to clients at work came up.

How have you been able to sell cooked food to people via an online medium? Describe the process from order to sales.

For now, we sell our meals online via our Twitter and Instagram pages. We are currently working on a better website.

We post information about our services on these platforms; potential clients see our information online and contact us for the service they want. They either pre-order for bowls of soup/stews or they subscribe for any of our lunch packages. They provide us with their names, phone number(s) and address for delivery.

It has not been so difficult selling cooked food online because it is an important need and a food delivery business helps the client with one less problem to worry about.

Social Media has helped with referrals – Isioma Onyegikei Click To Tweet

How has social media enabled you to reach your target audience?

Frankly, social media has enabled us to reach our target audience in the sense that a lot of young Nigerians (Lagosians) and even older Nigerians are online. The chances that our next client that we will market to offline has a Twitter, Facebook or Instagram account is 80%, so with social media, it is easy to market to a lot of people at the same time in different locations with just one post.

Potential clients also come online to search for a service they need, we see this and market our service to them. Social media also has helped in terms of referrals. An old client can see someone asking for a similar service and refer them to our page.

Instagram, for example, is pictorial so with a business page, anyone who comes across the page already knows what services to contact us for. The use of hashtags has helped in getting across to our intended target audience because people do search for the service thy want using related hashtags.

Which social media channel do you consider to be the most responsive channel for your business?

Twitter has been responsive and this is because people do not necessarily have to follow you to see your tweet on their timeline. Retweets are free.

There is also the advantage of having others try out a service that one or two of their friends have used and Twitter seems to be the most engaging social network to set up that way.

How often do you make sales from social media?

We make sales from social media regularly. It is a food business and now, more than ever, people desire convenience. Also, the fact that we have two different service offerings: pre-ordered bowls of soups/stew and lunch subscriptions, helps to ensure that we are able to reach a broader segment of people and meet more needs.

Logistics is an issue for online businesses. – Isioma Onyegikei Click To Tweet

What are some of the issues you have faced while trying to run your business online?

In running an online business, our main issue has been logistics. First of all, we run a value for money service, delivering high-quality meals at very affordable prices. Currently, a lot of logistics companies charge very high for their service and most times it makes no sense to ask a client to pay more for delivery than the actual food they are buying.

Also, the logistics companies have other clients that they also trying to service while servicing you. In situations like this, it is very easy to get disappointed at any time or have a client’s order messed up on the way. There is also the issue of bad publicity when running an online business.

Social media can make or mar business. An unsatisfied client can easily discourage others, totally within their rights, so for us at Brelunds we ensure that our customer service is top notch and intended to “wow” both clients and potential clients.

What’s your perfect one-line statement for young females trying to build a brand via social media?

Know what you do, learn what you don’t know and know those who know what you don’t know.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Third Stop on the Delicious Naija Food Tour? Daura, Katsina

Katsina is claimed to be the home of heritage and hospitality, so Delicious Naija went to go see what that was all about. A trip to the history-heavy Kusugu Well solidifies Bunmi’s place as a tourist and her ride on the significant horse had her feeling a little like royalty. Then it was food time! The real reason we’re here…

Lucky Bunmi got to share a meal of Tuwo Shinkafa & Miyan Kuka with the famous Northern musician, Sani Danja (Man, you should see that plate of Tuwo – salivating galore!) And then she was off to Hajara Sanni Lawal’s home, a young wife, mother, civil servant, teacher, MAGGI Star and all-round boss! She taught Bunmi how to make millet-based Fura & Nunu and a local cous cous based meal called Brabisco. So, if you’re on that healthy train, this Katsina episode was totally for you!

Hajara Sanni’s husband says he rushes home everyday and hardly eats outside… that’s #goals and we knew the recipe was going to be lit! Definitely going to get the family to eat dinner Daura-style soon. We really enjoyed this episode and you should catch up on Delicious Naija episodes on the Maggi YouTube channel.

The food journeys of Delicious Naija can always be watched at 7:30pm Saturday on Africa Magic (Family), at 5pm Sunday on NTA and at 5:30pm Friday on Arewa24.

Delicious Naija KatsinaBut if you can’t get to these, that’s okay – there’s  Facebook, Instagram & Youtube to keep you updated! Go watch!


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Second Stop on the Delicious Naija Food Tour? Ibadan

Delicious Naija is back with a trip to Ibadan, ‘the city at the edge of the savannah’ – capital of Oyo State. After a visit to Mapo Hall for a good dose of history, Bunmi is off to visit with her good friend Saka. Yes the very same warm and funny Nollywood actor & comedian Saka is Bunmi’s first host. They visit the lush Agodi Park & Garden and then move on to have a meal that is always in the same sentence with Ibadan. You guessed right: Amala!

But the trip isn’t complete without making a meal traditional to Ibadan and so the MAGGI Star of this episode, Grace Obagunwa, teaches us how to make the local Ishapa soup. This mother, wife and teacher tells us the perks of being on good terms with your mother-in-law, one of which is learning traditional recipes like Pounded Yam and Ishapa Soup!

The food journeys of Delicious Naija can always be watched at 7:30pm Saturday on Africa Magic (Family), at 5pm Sunday on NTA and at 5:30pm Friday on Arewa24.

Delicious Naija IbadanBut if you can’t get to these, that’s okay – there’s  Facebook, Instagram & Youtube to keep you updated! Go watch!


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First Stop on the Delicious Naija Tour? Port Harcourt

Food is never just food. Our food represents generations of knowledge, health choices, livelihoods and culture! Delicious Naija is a new series from MAGGI that’s exploring food and culture from all parts of Nigeria; right from the Tuwo-eating North to the Periwinkle-crushing South. Everyone from the foodie to the lover of cooking to instagram hashtagger will enjoy this series. Bunmi will take us on a taste adventure to meet the women and men who are making a difference with their cooking in their families and communities.

Sandra Ekweseli of Cool FM Port-Harcourt gives Bunmi the best Rivers State welcome possible: Bole & Fish. Watching them eat the Port-Harcourt specialty from Bole King is enough to make your mouth water. After a visit to Isaac Boro Memorial Park, Bunmi goes on to learn how to make the local dish, Onunu & Fresh Fish Peppersoup, from our MAGGI Star – Judith Udala. The warmth in this family is beautiful to watch and we can’t wait to try our hands at making this Port-Harcourt favourite!     

The food journeys of Delicious Naija can always be watched at 7:30pm Saturday on Africa Magic (Family), at 5pm Sunday on NTA and at 5:30pm Friday on Arewa24.

Delicious Naija Food Tour - Port HarcourtBut if you can’t get to these, that’s okay – there’s  Facebook, Instagram & Youtube to keep you updated! Go watch!


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Essie Bartels: I immerse myself wherever I am

Essie Bartels Essie Spice

l told myself l was going to give 100% of my vision into the brand. Nothing was going to be half-baked - Essie Bartels Click To Tweet

Spices and sauces are what turn insipid ingredients into gourmet food. We all love food, well at least l do and there is nothing disappointing in the life of a foodie like being served a dry meal that’s meant to be succulent. Yes, it’s all about the food and for food, it’s all about the bursts of flavor.

Ghanaian #MotherlandMogul Essie Bartels knows the art of fine cookery and through her kitchen experiments, EssieSpice was established. Essie was born in Accra to a family of 9, she went to school in the central part of Ghana and moved to the USA at age 18. She has traveled to over 26 countries, lived on three continents and schooled in those three.

Essie Bartels learnt how to cook from her mother and grandmother from when she was 8 years old.

How did you turn your love for spices into a business?

It was thanks to a lot of encouragement and support from family and friends. The plan was to continue working in corporate America and rising up the ranks and I was doing that. EssieSpice was a side gig. But with all the support, I kept going and when I lost my job, I decided to give EssieSpice a chance.

Main Picture Essiespice

What were some of your disappointments?

There have been so many. Being disappointed by partners, investors, the government, writers who say they’ll publish your story, running out of funds, disappointments from ingredient producers.

The list goes on.

What has been the most successful strategy of marketing your spices?

I think what has worked for me so far is my foundation. When I started out, I told myself I will give 100% of my vision into the brand. Nothing was going to be half-baked.

I spent a substantial amount of money on research, on my labels, on my ingredients, on telling my story, and my overall branding. I think people identify with that and they understand how much I put in. They understand how that translates into the passion and love I have for EssieSpice.

What is your favourite spice from your product range?

I actually wish I had a favorite out of the 4 so I could answer everyone who interviews me but I really don’t.

Anyone who’s tried the sauces will tell you how different they are. With products so different, it’s hard to pick one since they can be used for the same things but also completely varied and different applications.

I immerse myself wherever I am - Essie Bartels founder of @EssieSpice Click To Tweet

How do you generate new ideas?

I travel. I immerse myself wherever I am. Whether I’m back home researching new spices or in another country. I ask a lot of questions. I then come home and experiment. Some of the ideas come out of disasters of experiments as well.

Which cuisine most inspires your spices?

African and Asian cuisines. They are my favorite.


What are your responsibilities as the owner of EssieSpice?

Currently, I don’t have staff. Most of my workers are contract workers or outsourced.

Once in a while, I have help from friends and family so ultimately I have all the responsibilities at EssieSpice. From sourcing ingredients to packaging to production to deliveries to demos to accounting to social media…you name it. But that will be changing soon.

Most of @EssieSpice's workers are contract workers or outsourced Click To Tweet

Did the birth of EssieSpice cause any lifestyle changes? How?

I can create my schedule now. That wasn’t the case before when I worked in corporate. I had to go with someone else’s schedule for my life.

I also had to learn to budget a lot more and to be more organized with finance and schedules. Also knowing that once I create the product, it’s not about me anymore but the consumer. That brings a whole new perspective.

Describe a kitchen disaster

I remember I went to a market and I was told there was no power. So I needed to run to a Home Depot and get a generator to power our fryers and grills. But the generator could only power one thing at a time. It was an extremely hectic and difficult day but we pulled through.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here

Hilda Mavhunga: I had no idea that one could become a food technologist

Hilda Mavhunga

@didi_mamushka is a food technologist making a career out of her love for food Click To Tweet

For Hilda Mavhunga, “food is passion, food is love.” But Hilda lives her passion for food in a way that is different from what you’d expect. She is a food technologist. Say what now? Yep, food technologist! It’s one of those professions that few know but that are well integrated into our everyday lives.

“Food is my life, food was my choice, food is my career, food is my love,” says Hilda Mavhunga. And you know that the food industry is the largest in the world, we all need to eat. Yet Hilda doesn’t limit herself to her job as a food technologist. She’s also a model and founder of Vision 30 and Soweto Award for Economic Development. The Soweto Award for Economic Development was started to change the fact that Sowetans feel neglected in South Africa.

Why did you decide to study food technology

I must admit, I had no idea that one could become a food technologist. Some people don’t realise what a major role in the development of food products we play in the global market. The plethora of disciplines in food industry is vast and fascinating. Common products that you purchase each day have been researched, designed and modified by a team of food industry professionals.

As food technologists, we make sure that what you purchase is consistent in quality and most importantly, safe to eat. It draws from many disciplines in an attempt to better understand food processes and ultimately improve food products for general public. It applies food science principles for the selection, preservation, processing, packaging and use of safe food.

Food technology disciplines include food chemistry, food process engineering, food microbiology, food preservation, food packaging, food safety, food technology, new product development and sensory analysis.

I love using science and engineering skills to research and develop food products and to ensure the safety of food supply. Therefore, food technology was an option to quench the thirst of this kind of love.

I decided to be a food technologist because there is nothing more amazing than the chemistry of food and its technology.

Can you tell us a bit about your work and its contribution towards developing countries.

The food industry is one of the largest on the planet. People will always have to eat. The primary objective of food science and technology is to provide crowded populations with the kind and quality of food they demand at all times of the year.

Food processing techniques developed by food scientists ensure that the resources required to produce raw food materials, and ingredients for food manufacturing are used efficiently.

Hilda Mavhunga: I love using science and engineering skills to research and develop food products Click To Tweet

What is your favourite dish ?

My favourite dish pap and mogodu.

What do you think is special about the food science industry compared with other scientific industries?

When working in the food industry, you aren’t limited to lab work or a desk job. There is something for everyone, whether it be in quality, Research & Development , sales, e-marketing, manufacturing, teaching or in government.

The food science degree is inherently multidisciplinary, which opens up a myriad of opportunities.We use principles of chemistry, engineering, microbiology and other sciences to ensure food safety and agricultural productivity.

We discover new food sources, analyses nutrition content and finds different ways to process, package and preserve food in an attempt to improve the quality of the food that we eat everyday.


What do you do in your spare time?

In my spare time, I do modelling sometimes.

I also run two projects; Vision 30 and the Soweto Award for Economic Development.

Hilda Mavhunga: We Sowetans often we feel neglected & our aim is to change that Click To Tweet

Tell us about Soweto Award for Economic Development

We Sowetans often we feel neglected and our aim as an organisation is to change that. How so? By recognising talent/challenges, good/bad service delivery around our location. We figure out ways we can empower and be catalysts to turn and improve our locations into a better place where everyone wants  to be.

We also want to improve our education system, decrease unemployment rate and have better health services. That’s our mission as Soweto Award for Economic Development.

What kind of sickness have you lied about so you wouldn’t go to work?

I’m so passionate and live my work that I don’t want to miss a second of it.

I never lied about any sickness to miss work.

Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.

Habiba Wushishi: Food should not just be eaten but be enjoyed

habiba wushishi sydney's cuisine she leads africa

It has always been my dream to be innovative with my cooking - Habiba Wushishi Click To Tweet

You know a real foodie when she talks about food evoking emotions and cooking being a married of ingredients. We’re talking about Habiba Wushihi here, founder and spice-mixologist (yeah, we just made this up) behind Sydney’s Cuisine.

Habiba just loves food and she wants everyone to enjoy the tastiness and variety of Nigerian cuisine. That’s such a dope goal. Through Sydney’s Cuisine, she’s creating a new culture around how we appreciate Nigerian food which she hopes to expand globally through franchising.

Read on to discover how Habiba will achieve her goals. She’s got lots of great advice for baby start-ups too.

Why are you passionate about delivering good food in Nigeria?

As a foodie, I understand that there are people who eat just to fill up, and people that actually love food. I believe that food should not just be eaten but be enjoyed. Nigeria is a country that boasts of so many traditional dishes from a myriad of cultures within it.

Each culture has its own blend of flavours and ingredients which makes all of the food unique. Sydney’s Cuisine’s concept is based on an infusion of Nigerian and Intercontinental flavours.

To that point, I too have started ‘The Sydney’s Culture’ which aims to continuously entertain my customers with bursts of flavours as they eat. The beauty of the Nigerian food culture is that we all eat and appreciate each other’s food from all parts of the country.

One thing that is for certain is that Nigerians love to eat. This is befitting for me as it has always been my dream to be innovative with my cooking and create new and updated dishes that I know will attract a lot of people.

When you are running any food business, the main priority is to be able to satisfy a variety of palettes and to enhance customers’ dining experience. Food has the ability to evoke positive emotions. Maybe you are having a stressful day at work, and my food has put a smile on your face. This is immensely rewarding for me knowing that I have provided a good service.

Sydney’s Cuisine is dedicated to delivering good food in Nigeria not only to quench hunger and satisfy cravings, but also to create awareness about the next phase of Nigerian cooking.

sydneys-cuisine-1What makes Sydney’s Cuisine different from the other food and catering businesses that exist on the market?

Before I started this business, I did research on as many food businesses as I could. More often than not, you come up with some idea(s) that someone or several others already have executed. I realised, after conducting my research, that my food concept and brand culture would take-off based on that special component, that makeover, that je ne sais quoi, that is much needed in the Nigerian food and catering market.

Not long after, I had an epiphany —cooked food is a marriage of ingredients! In this case, my food concept would be to infuse Intercontinental flavours into the Nigerian cuisine. What sets Sydney’s Cuisine apart from the rest is that there are at least 15 different Nigerian and Intercontinental spices in all of our meals. This achieves a level of flavour that is so desirable, it has proved to be a tad overwhelming (in a good way) for a few of our customers.

Sydney’s Cuisine blends at least 15 different Nigerian and foreign spices in all meals Click To Tweet

One of my goals is for Sydney’s Cuisine to appeal to people around the world, and the best way to achieve that is to provide a sense of familiarity by cooking with ingredients known to people from a specific country. I want the rest of the world to have a taste of the Nigerian cuisine and in turn, I’d like Nigerians to experience other flavours in food. Just like people all over world eat and enjoy the Asian cuisine.

Global corporations like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have their own individual business culture. This culture has played a huge role in the success of these companies. You don’t really hear about food/catering businesses and their cultures. Culture is a substantial part of any business and should be incorporated into every business. I am gradually developing the Sydney’s Cuisine culture that will make it stand out.

Since this is your first start-up, what are the hardest parts of getting your venture off the ground and how are you looking to fill in the gaps?

With any start-up, you will be faced with tough challenges. Teething problems are to be expected at the start of any food business. At first, when any issue arose, I found myself panicking and even doubting myself and my capabilities.

I started this business on my own and without any partners. As a result, I had to juggle several roles and responsibilities to ensure quality control and efficiency. I was a manager, accountant, marketer (via social media platforms), food orders supervisor, packager, just to name a few.

Sometimes, I would focus on one or two roles and because of this I would have missed a few orders or endanger the quality of the meals. Each role is just as significant as the other which is why I became very anxious in the beginning.

I found myself panicking and even doubting myself and my capabilities - Habiba Wushishi Click To Tweet

When you are starting a new business, you may not want to hire a manager from the onset because you want to save on costs. So I decided to try out a couple of routines and figure out the best one for me to follow. Since then, I have come up with a system that works perfectly and has enabled me to settle into all those roles comfortably. And as the business grows, I will create a team to fill the roles. Day to day operations will always be a challenge and I have learned that all businesses no matter how small should have systems in place to allow fluidity.

habiba-wushishiThe financial aspect was a struggle as I had difficulty keeping track of my incomings and outgoings. I was dealing with a lot of numbers and would sometimes get confused and miscalculate. I have been able to create a cash flow template that allows me to track my daily sales and expenditures. There are also many low cost accounting packages available for use by small business such as mine, e.g. QuickBooks. This has helped me get a better understanding of the overall accounting of the business.

Sydney’s Cuisine offers a delivery service and living in Nigeria, you know that traffic is one of the many challenges we are bridled with. My deliveries have not always been prompt and I have disappointed a few customers because of this.

Having said this, purchasing a motorbike seemed to be the best course of action. We are making arrangements to acquire numerous motorbikes that will be assigned to several key locations in Lagos; in the hopes that this will ensure timely deliveries. We hope to conquer Lagos one neighbourhood at a time. We have also partnered with Jumia Food to handle our foods orders and delivery logistics.

Victoria Mbabazi: I’ve learnt that age is no guarantee of maturity

victoria mbabazi she leads africa

Take a minute to consider that what you watch on TV could determine your future business. Growing up, Victoria Mbabazi spent a lot of time watching the Food Channel. She experimented with different recipes and wanted to study food production at university but was instead advised to study Software Engineering.

It all turned out great because now, Victoria’s three passions are culinary art, technology and agriculture. In 2013, she started Kahwa2Go, a cafe and restaurant with her business partner and mentor. She also works with technology innovation, encouraging women in the tech.

Victoria was part of the 1,000 African entrepreneurs selected by the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP) in 2015. Read on to learn about Victoria’s the 40/60 approach to working, her four skills for running a cafe/restaurant and being judged by others as a young #MotherlandMogul.

What launched your interest in the culinary industry?

Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved nothing more than school and play time. As life would have it, play time slowly dwindled away as is the norm for many when all the elder brothers and sisters head out to boarding school.

As luck would have it, I spent most of my lazy days watching the Food Network channel and experimenting with different recipes as my mum made lunches and dinners. I paid no mind to it; it was something fun to do, period.

The first call to fate was when I was joining university in 2012, my gut feeling was I should pursue a food production and hospitality course. However, I was advised that this was not yet a lucrative industry in Uganda thus the Software Engineering course I opted for.

I worked in the technology eco-system all through my four-year course and along the way I met my now business partner who is very passionate about entrepreneurship. He mentored me into both the technology and entrepreneurship industries and before we knew it, we had merged our two passions —culinary art and entrepreneurship. We have been at it since 2013.

Tell us about Kahwa2Go. What do you seek to fulfill with the products/services you provide?

The birth of Kahwa2Go was quite immaculate, my business partner and I first spoke of the concept on the eve of Christmas in 2013. Kahwa2Go is a Ugandan trademarked business of The 2Go Guys Limited providing a quick service, convenient food place for the middle class, commuters, urban dwellers, families or colleagues that are looking for an opportune meeting and co-working point in Ntinda.

Our food menu is a blend of modern fine dining whole meals with a touch of delicious fresh homemade snacks. We also offer a variety of coffee beverages, juices, milkshakes and teas, all with an option of takeaway or dine-in.

Kahwa2Go is already signed up on Uganda’s most visited online food ordering platform, Jumia Food. We also have a steady growth of both new customers from social media and repeat customers.

Kahwa2Go is competing in a market size of 1 million middle class potential customers in Kampala. This market is shared by less than 50 upscale (white collar) restaurants. It’s this fact here that provides an opportunity for us to venture into the food industry.


How did you go about setting it up?

The initial concept of Kahwa2Go was to establish coffee carts along the streets of Kampala. This did not come to pass due to regulations by the city authority.

In mid-2014, we got some space in an innovation hub, set up one espresso machine and served an average of ten people per day. We embraced our share of lessons and in June 2015, we launched as the first coffee shop to partner with Vivo Energy Uganda at one of their fuel stations in the city center.

Our menu was simple but creative comprising of different hot and cold beverages as well as snacks and casual meals that our customers would enjoy in our fifteen-seater space. This year (2016), we set out to maximize KahwaGo’s potential, closed operations with Vivo Energy and opened an ambient, fully-fledged restaurant and café seating an average of fifty people situated in Ntinda; the heart of one of Kampala’s suburbs.

Our core principles of execution were minimalism, leverage, negotiation and user-centered design. We understood our limits and combatted them head-on by equipping ourselves with adequate knowledge and exposure about the culinary industry as well as entrepreneurship through programs like the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP) and the CURAD Agribusiness incubator program.

Also, we have a 40/60 rule when it comes to getting work done. We spend 40% of our time planning and ensuring that we have the right people, organizational and operational structures, equipment and most importantly the knowledge to execute our business road map.

What four skills have you found necessary to run a restaurant and cafe? Why are they necessary?

The fundamental areas of competence are;

  • having the basics of accounting,
  • great passion about customer service,
  • creative marketing and
  • a firm grip on management.

From inception, it is paramount to understand your work; your product and systems. This will holistically inform what kind of marketing strategy to implement.

Once you know your customers, you then dive into discovering what kind of experience they expect considering the fact that you want to create a loop of loyal clientele.

Accounting is a core because you need to understand how money and other resources get in and out, the menu pricing models and be able to interpret the sales and expenses of the business at the bare minimum.

Lastly, great management is the adhesive component that will ensure the employees continually work as a team to understand the all-round needs of the business in peak and off peak seasons.


What were the unexpected challenges you encountered while starting out?

We knew right from the beginning that starting a business would not be a walk in the park. Being a relatively young entrepreneur at 25 years old, the most astonishing challenge faced thus far is being judged by people based on age vis-a-vis passion and abilities.

The intimidation has taught us that ‘age is no guarantee of maturity’ and successful entrepreneurship is about passion, creative execution and perseverance, the rest is secondary.

As someone who has achieved so many awards through your initiatives, what more can we expect from you?

The awards are a remarkable experience and the lessons learnt payback a hundredfold when you start to implement your dream.

At the forefront of my ambitions is nurturing Kahwa2Go into a self-sustaining and nation-wide recognized restaurant brand but also creating jobs for 50 young people in the next 2 years.

On the technology side, my immediate goal is to mentor more young ladies into the innovation ecosystem. My long term vision is to successfully cross-fertilize the 3 sectors I am passionate about —culinary art, technology and agriculture— to not only inspire the next generation entrepreneurs but also build a legacy.

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