Victoria Mamza: The boss woman behind the indigenous brand, Wangarau Foods

Wangarau Foods

Victoria Mamza is the young woman tearing up the Lagos hemisphere with her packaged African food brand, Wangarau Foods. The Lagos State University Marketing grad, who can be reached on Instagram and Twitter, loves to experiment with cooking.

Having experimented with different business models, Wangarau Foods has evolved into offering to cook to the specification of customers, as well as branding and packaging food items for events.

Mercedes Alfa caught up with Victoria, who reminds us aspiring Motherland Moguls how pertinent the ability to identify and exploit a business need is to launch oneself into the market space.


What prompted the startup of Wangarau Foods?

The inspiration to begin Wangarau Foods came from a neighbour who is a banker. As you know, Nigerian bankers often have crazy schedules and she could hardly find the time to go to the market to shop for food items.

I overheard her conversation from my kitchen window about how stressful it was to go to the market after office hours. Right there, it dawned on me that there could be a market for many people like her who as a result of their busy schedules, do not have the time to purchase local items.

I, therefore, saw a service I could render, one where hygienic, quality and affordable food items could be delivered to their doorsteps.

What are some of the biggest challenges you face running a business in Nigeria?

As an entrepreneur in the agro-allied sector, the major challenge is power. If the regularization of power supply can be effected, most of the problems faced by food manufacturers and packagers would be reduced to a minimum.

Another challenge is the limitation of funds to set up Wangarau Foods to my ideal vision.

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Do you run your business using a business model that just works or adapt to different ones at different times?

Initially when I started Wangarau Foods, I had just one business model in mind, which was to reduce the lead time in the preparation of food by saving customers the stress of going to the market.

Over the last few months, I have had to adopt a few other business models to generate revenue for the company. Currently, I offer to cook to the specification of customers, and also to brand and package food items for events.

For a lot of entrepreneurs, certain people have helped groom their businesses in different capacities. Who has had the most significant impact on your business and why?

My good friend who happens to be the angel investor in my business has played an invaluable role in the rise of Wangarau Foods.

He is a mentor who has not only encouraged me but taught me to be confident in my abilities.

Do you have a philosophy you live by and apply to your business?

Yes, I do. My philosophy is; “Be passionate about everything you do. Passion gives you a reason to get up in the morning and the energy to burn all the way till midnight”.

I know this may sound so cliché but I have found that if you follow your passion and dare to dream, work doesn’t really seem like work. It will not be your job but your happy place.

I would also say find the courage to follow your heart and intuition. These have so far, not led me astray.

What is the next move for Wangarau foods?

Setting up the Wangarau factory is definitely the next major step for us.

Which Wangarau food items would go into a yummy concoction rice recipe?

My go-to ingredients for concoction rice are Wangarau Foods rice, Wangarau Foods palm oil, Wangarau Foods crayfish, Wangarau Foods dried prawns, Wangarau Foods dried fish and Wangarau Foods cameroon pepper.


Tell us what amazing entrepreneurial things women are doing in your communities here

Meet our Accelerator Moguls: Koko’s Kitchen

sifa gowon koko's kitchen she leads africa

 As you know the first ever She Leads Africa Accelerator Program is currently ongoing. Out of the 120 startups from across Nigeria who applied for the program, we  identified 10 as the next generation of Nigeria’s brightest female entrepreneurs.

These 10 selected businesses are now benefitting from our intense accelerator training. One of them is Koko’s Kitchen, a brand that makes baking easier for Nigerians. From cakes to cookies, Koko’s Kitchen answers the demand for locally made easy-to-bake mixes.

Sifa Asani Gowon and Oluwatosin Olaseinde started the brand to build an indigenous brand within Nigeria. They hope the Accelerator program will help take them there.


Why did you decide to apply to the SLA Accelerator program?

While I, Sifa Asani, was busy fiddling with cake mix formula, trying to tweak it to perfection, Tosin was working tirelessly to build a strong foundation for the business in terms of accounting, mentoring and the like.

Tosin has been tracking the She Leads Africa voraciously and when the accelerator opportunity came up, we seized the opportunity. We decided to apply for it because we know it will help us to strategise and position the company to achieve critical pace. It would also help us to network and expose Koko’s Kitchen to potential investors.koko's kitchen she leads africa

What do you intend to take back home after the Accelerator program?

As a preamble, let me say that I had actually attended a SheLeads program earlier this year, in April: SheHive Abuja. I really liked what I saw and was so impressed with the organization, the speakers and the overall ambience.

There were women from all over the nation with one thing in common; ambitious dreams and the drive to succeed while adding to their communities and families. I liked that women were being encouraged to bring out the best in themselves as well as be considerate and help other business women when and how they could.

When we applied for the Accelerator program I expected no less from SheLeads. I anticipated a learning environment especially suited to African female entrepreneurs in terms of advice, tools and mentoring. We intend to take back home a stronger company in terms of controls achieving KPIs and also a stronger network that we can leverage on.

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How do you intend to stand out and improve your business after the mentorship programme?

Considering Koko’s Kitchen is a really young company, we have been fortunate to have reliable collaborations. This ranges from that of the co-founders to the ecosystem such as She Leads Africa, amongst others.

We plan to execute all the key decisions that we have taken from to SLA accelerator programme. To glean knowledge from the outstanding entrepreneurs who have walked the road before us and have shared their stories and give us advice. We’ve been taught the value of time and of discipline. We are also accountable to our SheLeads mentors, which goes a long way in keeping us in line and focused.

After this program, we intend to take all we have learned and all the contacts we have made and utilize it to our advantage. We intend to streamline and stretch our ideas to build a strong and reliable business that is here to stand the test of time.

Princess Odiakosa: I’ve dreamed of becoming a chocolatier

Princess Odiakosa

The cocoa bean may be indigenous to the Americas but these days its home is in West Africa. West Africa produces nearly 70% of the world’s cocoa yet we’re not renowned for making luxury chocolate ourselves. Princess Odiakosa wants to change that. She is a chocolatier that works exclusively with Nigeria cocoa and has plans to make Nigeria “the sweetest place in Africa”. Here, she shares with SLA the challenges of being a Nigerian chocolate maker and why her company is called Kalabari Gecko.


How did you find your way into making chocolates?

I have always had this love for chocolate. I think it was as far back as when I was a little girl and being ascribed to as having a chocolate complexion. Also as a child, my sister planted a cocoa tree in front of our house all on her own.

There is something very compelling about the visual structure of chocolates and its formation in a box. There is the mystery embedded in the interiors of its inner cavities, and the burst of polyphenols, a reward your brain is always thankful for.

Whenever I travelled outside Nigeria, people would request I come back with chocolate. That used to get me upset. My response sometimes would be, “But we have cocoa, why don’t we make ours?” It was even sadder when visiting friends or family abroad, I had nothing to offer as gifts from my beloved Nigeria. So, you can say it was a two edged-sword. Thinking about Nigeria and the cocoa we have motivated me to stop talking and start creating.

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I’ve had this dream of becoming a chocolatier since 2010, but didn’t know how to go about it. There were no chocolate making schools or classes available anywhere in Africa. I had to head North of Europe to learn the art of bean to bar.

My passion is for the Nigeria cocoa bean. You probably don’t know that our cocoa gets a lot of bad press for its distinct character. My Kalabari Gecko is 100% single source Nigerian chocolate. My chocolates are made from our locally farmed cocoa bean into tasty, satisfying treats. I want to change all that and make Nigerian chocolate an acquired taste. Something we can call ours.

Why Kalabari Gecko? What’s the story behind the name?

Initially, I had another name for my company. But one day I was conversing with a friend’s brilliant mum about my plans for the business and she advised me to change the name to a more Nigerian one. It was from there, the name Kalabari Gecko emerged.

Every time the thought of my chocolate business came to mind, I always had a picture of this pretty rampant gecko in my head. This image started invading my dreams and I chose it as my logo.

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What do you do for a living? Do you have any plans to move towards making chocolates full time?

I work full-time at a financial consulting firm, dbrownconsulting. We are into financial based training, consulting and outsourcing. I manage the Training and Marketing department.

I love my job so much, and my boss has been really supportive of my business. It can be really hectic juggling both, but for now I try to find time in the early mornings to make chocolate, or after work, most especially weekends. I try to make my passion fuel me, and my dreams take me there.

I would love to make chocolate full time and I am working towards that goal.IMG_20160629_063605

How do you plan to take your chocolatier business to the next level?

I have often heard about the difficulty of acquiring a start-up loan from the banks; that it’ll be easier bringing Steve Jobs back to life, than get a loan from one of the banks.

So, I am investing most of the money I take home to my chocolate business. I see my factory producing high quality affordable chocolate for Nigerians and the people they love all over the world. I want to make Nigeria the sweetest place in Africa.

To get there, I am taking things one step at a time and right now, trying to put everything in place.

If you could eat only one kind of chocolate for the rest of your life? What would it be?

It would be the darkest of the dark, or any flavor enrobed in dark. I love the honesty the dark chocolate has. I even find myself popping freshly roasted cocoa nibs into my mouth whenever I roast.


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

Ogechi Okelu: Making traditional Nigerian snacks sexy

ogechi okelu kozee snacks

Ogechi Okelu’s love for food creativity led her from a career as a pharmacist to a desire to recreate indigenous Nigerian snacks. Many Nigerians grew up eating snacks which were only largely available in rural areas but Ogechi is repackaging local snacks in healthy and hygienic ways through her small scale food factory to help reach more people.

She shared her thoughts with SLA on where traditional foods fit in with weight loss and on her journey so far.


Why start a business with indigenous snacks?

Nigeria has a wide variety of healthy and creative snacks and meals. These have been lost over time and are not in high demand among the urban and elite groups.

This is mainly because of the preparation process and packaging but also due to Westernisation. I’m working on recreating some of these snacks in a healthier and more appealing way for the world to enjoy.

Tell us a bit about Kozee

My brand has been registered as a trademark and it’s called Kozee. My first product is my brand of kulikuli. Kulikuli is an indigenous snack made from groundnut paste that is quite popular in the northern part of Nigeria.

I grew up eating this lovely snack. It is really versatile and can be eaten alone or in combination with other meals. Typically, people eat it broken into soaked garri but modern foodies use kulikuli as salad or parfait toppings, blended into smoothies and also to spice roasted beef or chicken.

I am currently at the last stage of registration with NAFDAC, the Nigerian body that is responsible for the registration and quality control of food, drugs and cosmetics in Nigeria. They ensure that standard quality is maintained at all times and that standard operating procedures are adhered to by carrying out site inspections at factories and also running quality control tests on products at their labs.

kozee kulikuli

Where do indigenous and traditional foods fit in weight loss and healthy living?

The main challenge with weight loss is portion control. We have a wide variety of traditional foods that are rich in fibre and minerals and are not over processed. A lot of our local foods however, have not been scientifically analysed, so we can’t be certain as to how many calories they contain or their nutritional value.

This drives a lot of people who are particular about weight loss and healthy living to buy the imported products that have clear nutritional facts written on them. Researching on and repackaging our traditional foods will encourage more people to patronise Nigerian products and therefore boost the economy.

How has your background as a pharmacist helped your hustle?

As a pharmacist, I have learnt a lot about the importance of quality control and microbial contamination and this has helped me set high standards for myself, my factory and my product. Kulikuli has been made for centuries in the rural areas by hard working women who use a lot of manual processes from start to finish. This makes it difficult to produce large quantities of kulikuli in a healthy and hygienic way. I have been able to substitute a large part of the manual process using food grade machinery.

I am also a pharmaceutical sales person, this has taught me a lot about sales, marketing and running a business.

Where do you see Kozee in the next year?

I currently deliver only in Abuja but am in talks to supply other major cities in Nigeria.

I want my products to be available for purchase across Nigeria and hopefully abroad in the nearest future.

What is your passion and how do you sustain it?

I am a foodie who is also very passionate about healthy living.

My passion for healthy food keeps me focused on coming up with creative ideas that I believe can help redefine our traditional and indigenous foods.


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

7 inspirational websites you need to follow

Arese Ugwu

The most beautiful thing about being a young professional or career woman today is that your knowledge isn’t limited to what you can find in your neighbourhood or community.

The digital world allows you to connect with experts and information from across the globe. Whatever issue you think you might have, there are probably 100 or so websites that can help you solve your problem.

While there are over a too websites we love, here are 7 of our favourites that help us stay informed, motivated and ready for whatever life throws at us.

1. Smart Money Africa

The Smart Money Movement is championed by financial guru Arese Ugwu. Her website provides a platform for young people to learn to manage their finances better by knowing their net worth and prioritizing the accumulation of assets over frivolous spending.

In other words, being smart about your money. Keep an eye out for the blog, the Smart Money Workshops and the Smart Money Journal. They will literally change your life.

You’re welcome.

2. Minding Her Business

Young? Ambitious? Fabulous? Ready to move to the next level of all-round wellness? Then you need to be minding her business. Starting out as a series of motivational quotes on social media, MHB evolved into a practical guide for the modern woman in the form of an e-book covering financial success, self-confidence, love and relationships.

Navigate the site to get inspired by Ivy’s story, keep afloat with the blog and to get acquainted with the book.

3. Ms Afropolitan

If you’re searching for a space to address your feminist woes and reaffirm your womanhood in the African context, then this is your destination.

Through its blog articles, this website dissects topical issues such as colonialism, race, politics and what it’s like living in Diaspora. It offers strong, powerful, relevant messages for women of colour.

4. Haute Fashion Africa

Haute Fashion Africa is basically the fashion portfolio for the modern African woman. This website is on top of all that’s happening in the African fashion stratosphere.

We’re talking all the fashion trends, the major fashion shows in different African cities, profiles on designers, stylists and models.

5. Food and the Fabulous

This lifestyle website showcases cuisine and culture from all over the continent and the rest of the world.

Award-winning South African journalist, Ishay Govender-Ypma takes you on a journey with the Food and the Fabulous Food tours introducing you to Cape Town’s mouth-watering dishes.

Many of these recipes are available for you to try out. You can also gain travel inspiration and take a dig at current issues.

6. Travel Africa Story

Sure you’ve heard the saying that one’s education is incomplete without the experience of travel. This inspirational site features travel experiences and highlights amazing travel destinations from across Africa.

If you need ideas for your next vacation, check out ‘Travel Tips & Trips’. With several helpful articles and feature stories on travel etiquette and fun things to do on your trip, it’s an amazing travel guide.

The best part? You have the opportunity to tell your own travel story and get featured on the site.

7. She Leads Africa (duh!)

Did you think we were going to leave this out of the list? Think again. SLA is arguably the #1 go-to website for young African females with a focus on getting started or improving their careers and business.

It’s a resource pool packed with power articles and insight from the co-founders and diverse team of editors and contributors. It also features practical tips and advice, webinars, access to career coaches and more.

The SheHive events which bring together the SLA community and industry leaders are hosted in various cities around the world.

Motherland Moguls, let’s get surfing! Share with us what some of your favorite websites are to check out. Besides us of course 😉