That money you want is in someone’s account: Amba Eyang – Ajakaye

Not every “celebrity” is known. There are powerful women who are not just breaking glass ceilings, but also impacting the lives of people they meet.

One of such extraordinary women is Amba Eyang-Ajakaiye, a Brand Storyteller and Business Strategist.

She is the founder of iDare.NotDread Nigeria, a social engineering platform promoting innovation, creativity, and enterprise through storytelling and value sharing.

She is also team lead of the Build My Business initiative born out of iDare.NotDread’s enterprise. Centered on building skills and capacities for young people in the business.

This project launched grand ideas such as the BMB Expo and BMB Training school (online) in 2017.

Amba has gone from transforming ordinary people who would have never thought of writing their own books, to making them authors.

She’s also supporting small businesses to achieve scalability and growth especially, by helping them identify and understand the importance of “target markets” and “market validation”.

In this interview with SLA contributor – Wuraola, Amba Eyang-Ajakaiye bares it all about IDare.NotDread and highlights why small business owners should “do it afraid”.


Do it Afraid. Fight your limitations – Amba Eyang-AjakaiyeI Click To Tweet

Tell us about your company – IDare.NotDread

iDare.NotDread is a social Enterprise promoting innovation, creativity, and enterprise in Nigeria.

Our focus is primarily to build women communities and empower them with creative and innovative skills for business growth.

What’s one business tip you wish most business owners knew and could wield to their advantage?

Network. Meet people.

That money you want is in someone’s account. That unspoken challenge can be solved by someone. Attend workshops, events, and meet people. Most people don’t bite.

How can entrepreneurs begin to understand the power of conducting market validation, and collaboration with other SMEs?

I believe in collaboration. This is why I try to build communities. We started the Abuja food community in May, and its amazing to see how much collaboration has happened in a group full of women.

Yet, we probably thought women prefer to fight. No. The moment businesses understand that collaboration first means ‘here is what I can give you’, before ‘give me what I want’, they will lead better businesses.

With a lot of fake business coaches around, what makes your brand different?

We didn’t just arrive. We’ve been here a while. In 2013 we started with creating a platform for entrepreneurs to share their stories and inspire others.

Over time, we realized stories weren’t enough. Capacities needed to be built.

So we went all in to try to understand the real needs of the entrepreneurs we wished to serve, and since 2016, we started contributing to conversations around digital technology and creating a good impact in the digital space.

Since then, our efforts have birthed super brands.

In the past 3 years we have successfully trained 4,000 entrepreneurs on digital strategies as well as provided opportunities for business visibility.

Many thanks to the opportunity Google granted us through the Digital Skills for Africa programme and a host of other partners who have trusted us to work with them.

Why should SMEs understand their target markets before making an entrance into the market?

Because if we don’t, we would be hitting our heads on rocks. Hard rocks.

You can’t sell to everyone, and this is why research is key to identifying who your market is.

Ever tried selling a #ManchesterUnited jersey to an #Arsenal fan? It's just blind selling. Read more from Amba Eyang-Ajakaiye Click To Tweet

Tell us about your Ebook Challenge

Its amazing! I launched my first ever ebook on March 2019, titled ‘How to write your first eBook‘ and that’s where the ebook challenge began.

We are currently on our 3rd cohort and it’s been amazing!!! Every 2 months we launch a new set of authors who are super proud of their achievements. It feels great to empower people to create wealth with their knowledge.

We are looking to expand the community beyond eBooks to help more women create diverse digital products and generate more income.

How does the “Do It Afraid” catchphrase relate to entrepreneurs who don’t like taking risks?

We all have fear in us. It’s an emotion. I am still learning to tame my fears. And we all should. The best way to go about it is to go ahead and do that very thing you fear.

I have coached a number of businesses and one of the areas I tend to focus on is to help them fight those limitations – the little voices and beliefs that make them feel less of themselves and limited.

It’s important we act despite fear. Accept your fears but act.

What’s the worst that could happen? Failure? Then show me one person who NEVER failed.


Wema Bank Is Redefining Nigeria’s Tech Sector with ‘Hackaholics’

As a mark of its resilience, Wema Bank has over the years proven itself as an incubator of inventions and creative ideas, traits that continue to define its operations long after its establishment in 1945.

With the launch of ALAT, Nigeria’s first digital banking platform, they redefined and extended the limits of experiential banking. Safe to say they are Nigeria’s most innovative bank for a reason.

This year, they are raising the stakes with the launch of their very own hackathon – ‘Hackaholics.’ They simply can’t stop, won’t stop innovating and creating magic.

Are you an innovator, creative thinker, developer or addicted to hacking existing technologies to create better solutions? Don’t miss out on this great opportunity to bring your ideas to life.

Nigeria's most innovative bank - @wemabank Is Redefining Nigeria’s Tech Sector with ‘Hackaholics’. Find out how... Click To Tweet

From March 29 – 31, 2019, Hackaholics will pull together tech-driven professionals to create actionable solutions. Innovators and creative thinkers will be availed the opportunity to convert visionary concepts into workable applications for financial, institutional and social problems.

More than just the prize award, winning ideas will…

  • Be nurtured to become marketable
  • Receive full technical support from Wema Bank
  • Get funding up to 10,000 USD

The goal of the event is to harvest impactful tech solutions that re-echo the bank’s passion for building a community of innovators constantly working to bring safer, more convenient and profitable banking to customers.

Calling all innovators, creative thinkers, and developers addicted to hacking existing technologies to create better solutions. Don’t miss out on the Hackaholics by @wemabank. Learn more... Click To Tweet

Visit Wema Bank Hackathon to register your team today. Entries close March 12th.

Join the conversation by using the hashtag #hackaholic or simply follow us on our social media pages – Instagram: @wemabank. and Twitter: @wemabank


Sponsored Post.

Boss Lady Series: How to Balance Social Media, Life & Business with Funmi Oyatogun

Funmi Oyatogun is a geographer and experienced designer. Her two identities feed on each other.  She loves exploring the world and sharing her knowledge with others.

She has built her business, TVP Adventures, using social media, primarily on Twitter. With her content and company, her goal is to open up the African continent for the world.

I had a chance to talk with Funmi about how she balances building her business, remote team, and social media following working from her home office.

In this month of #GoodGoodLiving, @funmioyatogun shares how she's balancing social media, life and business. Read more... Click To Tweet

Here is what we can learn from her…

Visual person? Write things down

Funmi has found that writing things down in her physical planner helps her stay on track of her work and relaxed.  The night before, she finalizes what she will focus on, and writes down any new appointments for the next day.

She writes everything out nicely in her planner and arranges them in order of importance.  She also uses symbols to help her categorize her tasks. You can make a routine of writing out your work in planners therapeutic, using fun colorful pens and even stickers.

Work from home? Create a separate home office

One of the first things Funmi learned when she set up her business was that she should not work on her comfortable bed.  She then got a desk and chair in her room but still always wound up in her bed.

She decided that it was necessary that she physically travel to another space in her house.

The physical transition also helps her get into work mode. She finds it easier to concentrate and has fewer distractions in her home office. Funmi also recommends that you put up your goals and or vision board somewhere you can’t escape it.  

As she spends about 8 hours in her office, she has a comfortable swivel chair and a space that helps her stay productive and creative.

Social media critical to your success? Schedule it

Funmi’s business started and relies heavily on social media but she is still learning how best to balance using it with getting her other work done.

She tries to engage with social media first thing in the morning and later in the day, giving herself a large chunk of time in the middle of the day to focus on other work.  Like Funmi, you should try these 4 tips to keep from mindlessly scrolling through social media:

  • Plan content in advance ‘when your brain is fresh.’
  • Try to respond only to important notifications throughout the day
  • At the end of the day, skim and select direct messages to answer.  Not all messages deserve your attention
  • Focus on responding to longer threads and comments at the end of the day

Know thy energy levels

Perhaps the most common theme throughout our conversation was the importance of knowing when to do certain types of work.  

Funmi wakes up very early. Even if you don’t plan to be up at 4:30 am, you can still plan your day around when you do your best work and feel most productive.

She knows that it is best for her to do mindful tasks that require a lot of brain power and creativity in the morning. She finds that the stories she produces in the morning are drastically different from later in the day.  

As her energy wains throughout the day, her brain slows down by 4 pm, she focuses on tasks that are more routine.

If you don’t take care of your body, it won’t take care of you - @funmioyatogun Click To Tweet

Remember to recharge yourself

Funmi spends a lot of time giving out and sharing her thoughts and content. After completing routine tasks, Funmi starts ‘feeding’ herself by reading, catching up with the news and watching documentaries.

She makes sure to feed herself (literally) three times a day. She works out with a trainer in the morning first thing at last three times a week as well.

During our conversation, she warns, if you don’t take care of your body, it won’t take care of you.

How do you balance the creative process of developing content with responding and reacting to posts and comments?  Do you make sure to ‘replenish’ yourself after spending all day posting and giving yourself out?

Want to learn how to build a health conscious routine? Read our Good Good Living Part 1 series w/ Yasmin Kumi.


  Interested in contributing for She Leads Africa? Click here.

Oghenekevwe Omotosho: I started Oh Wow Popcorn in my kitchen, now its selling across Nigeria

Oghenekevwe Omotosho is a graduate of computer engineering. She obtained her B.Eng at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Nigeria. She is also a creative thinker and serial entrepreneur.

Kevwe is the CEO and creative director of the unique popcorn brand – Gimme Oh Wow Popcorn & Events – makers of the popular Oh Wow! Popcorn brand. She is married with three children.

In this article, she talks about how she turned her passion for popcorn making into a business, and how she’s overcome challenges along the way.


How did you discover your passion for popcorn making?

Oh Wow Popcorn started in my kitchen. I used to make popcorn for my children and also used it to entertain guests at home. Also, I enjoyed creating new flavors of popcorn especially indigenous Nigerian flavors.

I got excited by the idea of making popcorn art and I offered the service of displaying a variety of flavors at every event, live popping or delivering to clients at their convenience.

 How did the brand Oh Wow Popcorn come about?

I realized it was going to be a business for me sooner or later when I started getting positive feedback from friends and family.

I made samples and took to my children’s’ school to do a little market research and their response was encouraging. So the journey began, it has been a massive adventure since then.

Oh Wow Popcorn was formally launched on the 14th of February 2017 and to the glory of God, we have successfully weathered our fair share of what I call teething challenges. We keep on learning our lessons on this great entrepreneurial adventure and we have come out stronger and better for it.

We are proud to have revolutionized the popcorn and snacks making industry in Nigeria - @ohwowpopcorn Click To Tweet

Do you run your business full time? What did you do before starting Oh Wow Popcorn?

I am a serial entrepreneur, I already had a few other businesses including  Myfoodsupplies and I Sabi Work before my passion for popcorn lead me to start oh wow popcorn. I am currently running the three businesses.

Popcorn making may seem easy, but what major challenge have you encountered since launching, and how did you overcome them?

It has its own challenges. The most challenging was getting a business partner. I thought working with a partner would ease the pressure of running three businesses, but unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned.

I took the bull by the horn and threw myself into building my businesses by training my staff and restructuring my time.

Another key challenge we have faced is getting acceptability for our brand of popcorn which is different from what Nigerians are used to. We have however been able to overcome this challenge.

Knowing that there are many other popcorn brands in the market, how do you make sure your brand is unique and set yourself aside from the crowd?

We stand out from other brands by being original, unique and creative. Our customer service is also excellent.

 What are you most proud of about the Oh Wow popcorn brand?

We are proud to have revolutionized the popcorn and snacks making industry in Nigeria.

Since inception, we’ve invented and introduced never seen before flavors like Kilishi popcorn and kulikuli popcorn into our specialized popcorn, and candy floss catering for various types of events.

We saw a great potential and are happy to fill the space, by making our clients’ events come alive in previously unimagined ways with our tasty and colorful creations.

When it comes to marketing, how far across Nigeria has your brand gone, and where can your products be found?

Although we are based in Lagos Nigeria, we receive orders from other parts of the country, such as Ibadan, Abuja, Ondo, and Benin.

I took the bull by the horn and threw myself into building my businesses by training my staff and restructuring my time - @ohwowpopcorn Click To Tweet

Beyond popcorn production, what else do you do as a brand?

We also cater for candy floss, ice cream, waffles, meat pie, chinchin, zobo etc.

What is your staff strength currently, and how do you manage them?

We currently have 4 permanent staff, and we also get temporary workers when necessary. I make sure everyone knows his/her job responsibility and concentrates on doing it.

How do you manage your work-life balance, as an entrepreneur?

I delegate duties to my staff and I try as much as possible to limit my work to some specific hours of the day, especially our social media management. Immediately my children get back from school.

I concentrate on being a mother and a wife, I take them through all their assignment, eating and gist time before bed. Once they’re asleep, I round up my social media engagement for the day.

What’s the next step for Oh Wow popcorn?

The next step for oh wow popcorn is to have a presence all through key cities in the country and the world at large. We look forward to being the number 1 popcorn brand in Africa catering for all types of events.

 Any advice for people with this same business idea?

I will advise you to start small, start with what you have. You may have to give a free service to showcase your work to potential clients. Your first impression can make or mar your brand

Nurture and grow your business through the early years just as you would nurture a child.

The most important tool you’ll need is your passion and drive to keep moving when the chips are down and it looks like you’re getting nowhere.

Be creative, be original, be unique.

Fill in the gap. Before the end of the year,…

I would like to have finalized all plans for the maiden edition of Oh wow popcorn day. It’s an event that would help us give back to our community. It has been scheduled for January 19th next year.


Sponsored Post.

 

Wakanda is closer than you think: Amrote Abdella spotlights the real African innovative tech stories

The real Vibranium of Africa is its people and its potential - @amroteab Click To Tweet

Amrote Abdella spearheads Microsoft’s investments in Africa across 54 countries, working closely with her team to enable and accelerate digital transformation opportunities.

She was recently named one of Africa’s Top 100 Young Business Leaders, ranking 12th out of 100 leaders who are playing a major role in the continent’s economic development.

Before becoming Regional Director, Amrote was 4Afrika’s Director for VC & Startups, where she worked with start-ups supporting the innovation ecosystem in Africa.

Amrote writes about some of 4Afrika’s real-world heroes and amazing tech start-ups in Africa.


 

Since the release of Black Panther, the world has been captivated. The action-packed and fun fantasy movie has been embraced for its representation of black people generally, and Africans specifically.

Another key element of the film’s cult-like status is the appeal of the fictional and futuristic African country, Wakanda – full of tech innovations and ultra-modern urban development.

But how removed is the world of Wakanda from our own? As a continent, Africa has many advantages that are driving us closer to that aspirational vision: economic growth in many states that is outpacing much of the world, and a youthful population with an entrepreneurial bent.

And unlike Wakanda, we aren’t afraid to share our innovations.

Microsoft 4Afrika has been playing their part in Africa’s digital transformation. We have been supporting businesses, government projects, startups and young workers through empowering changes in internet access, service delivery enabled by tech and economic development. 

Launched in 2013, 4Afrika’s approach has seen them partner with projects of high impact that are driving Africa’s technological awakening. The following are some of 4Afrika’s real-world heroes.

Music to our ears

Damola Taiwo, Dolapo Taiwo, and Tola Ogunsola are three entrepreneurs who have come through the 4Afrika community and are transforming streaming music in Nigeria through their MyMusic digital music platform (MyMusic.com.ng).

MyMusic not only gives users access to home-grown music favorites but has a chatbot that helps users discover new songs and download the ones they love.

This bot – built on Skype – was showcased at the Microsoft NexTech Africa conference, and is one of the new technologies that has helped MyMusic grow to 700 000 active monthly users.

Their success is largely rooted in local knowledge – understanding the peculiarities of the cash-driven market. Given this, their smart use of airtime-as-payment lets users buy songs with a single click.

It’s a viable business which creates a powerful ripple effect that supports and monetizes African musicians.

Pay it forward

Another growing Nigerian start-up supported by 4Afrika is SpacePointe. Sayu Abend and Osato Osayande started this omnichannel platform with the explicit purpose of supporting business owners.

They do this by offering an innovative mobile point-of-service application designed for the Nigerian market. This helps thousands of online and offline businesses transact, and streamline their sales, marketing, and payment processing.

Theirs is a superhero narrative of financial inclusion and economic growth in action.

Creative culture

When it comes to creativity and storytelling, Hollywood certainly doesn’t have the market fully covered. Nigerians and other Africans are creating new characters, challenges, and scenarios every day that are engaging local target audiences.

4Afrika grantee Gamsole, for example, has created 50 new mobile games for the Android and iOS platforms in the past two years. Gamsole games have had over 10 million downloads. 

Most recently, in partnership with Diamond Bank, they created Dreamville on Azure, a digital financial platform that lets youth plan their future, save, chat and develop their financial literacy – all while playing games.

Skills for good

Our real-life tech heroes are also using their top skills for good. They are also partnering with other heroes of the non-profit sector to contribute to meaningful change in Africa.

The MySkills4Afrika project has supported four Nigeria non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in their cloud journey. This has, in turn, helped them automate many administrative processes so they can spend more time on their transformative work.

These include Junior Chambers International, United for Education Foundation, the Tony Elumelu Foundation, and Technology for Sustainable Development. In partnering with the essential NGO space, we are amplifying the trans-formative effects for thousands of more people.

In the cloud, on the ground

Because of Africa’s documented historical infrastructure woes, we have become a continent famous for “leapfrogging” traditional infrastructure.

Cloud makes sense everywhere. But this is more so in Africa, as it provides the means to scale up without costly infrastructure development. It overcomes the issues inherent in legacy technology and software. It also reduces the significant barrier that a difficult and broadly distributed supply chain can become.

Through strategic use of cloud services, young African entrepreneurs are enjoying the same options as their established global counterparts.

The next wave

The real Vibranium of Africa is its people and its potential. The next superheroes of trade, purpose-drive entrepreneurship, and technology are waking up today in Lagos, Accra, Johannesburg, Yaoundé, and Cairo.

They are already discovering their abilities and nurturing their dreams. Let’s celebrate them and tell their stories. Just as much as we relish a different African narrative on the silver screen.

This article was written by Amrote Abdella, Regional Director, Microsoft 4Afrika.


If you’d like to get featured on our Facebook page, click here to share your story with us.

Padebi Ojomo: Business Savvy Chick

padebi ojomo

Remember that whatever you learn makes you and your business better - Padebi Ojomo Click To Tweet

If you follow Padebi Ojomo, you can’t help but fall in love with her vibrant personality. This dynamic entrepreneur is so full of life that you can’t help but smile. Padebi runs the Business Savvy Chick Academy and is referred to as the client attraction genie.

#MotherlandMoguls, you definitely need more clients no matter where you are on the business ladder.


How did you get involved in business?

I’ve been involved in business for about 16 years. It actually started with my mum who sent me to learn hair making because I was causing problems at home. She reasoned that since I had so much energy, I could channel it to better use. I didn’t like it initially because it felt like punishment. But I got fascinated with the fact that one could do stuff and money would get exchanged.

I started buying and selling stuff: Adire, handkerchiefs to anybody most especially family. This experience opened my eyes to business and built my threshold for taking risks. I had never thought of getting a 9-5 job even though I studied Computer Engineering. After school, I continued buying and selling before branching out to other businesses.

I had never thought of getting a 9-5 job even though I studied Computer Engineering Click To Tweet

What businesses have you been involved in?

My first registered business was Nirvana Design, an interior decorating business. I really love interior decoration most especially for homes. The second one was Blue Tangerine which was basically just a shop. I bought things from China and sold them. It was just something I did because money came in from it. I got married and started Purple Signatures with my husband. This was more like training for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs.

However, in the course of doing my interior decoration business, I realised that most of the money went towards purchasing furniture. Design always needs good furniture and sometimes artisans could be a pain. I started Chic Carpenter and it was a hit back to back. Though it was stressful, it was a really successful business. I had my factory and a good client base. But it got really difficult to combine it with my pregnancy in 2015 and baby came too early. I had to stay indoors for 4 months because of my baby’s health. This lead to some of my businesses going down due mismanagement.

My restless and extroverted nature wouldn’t allow me sit still for 4 months. I had to do something and that was how my online business started: Business Savvy Chick Academy. It has been an awesome experience.

IMG-20170317-WA0001

How would you advise an entrepreneur trying to find her feet?

You need to start with passion otherwise, you would give up when frustration and stress sets in. It is also important to start early. Personally, I started early and it boosted my risk taking threshold. I have done businesses that failed woefully and I have done ones that succeeded. This helps because I have tested it and I see it works so my resolve is strengthened.

When you start at an early age, the world isn’t expecting too much from you. So, even when you get your fingers burnt, it’s not really the end of the world as you just learn from it. For example, I’d lose money in my business as a student but my father would still be available to pay my school fees. But as you get older, you have more responsibility and do not have the luxury to keep wasting resources.

Passion is really important but if it is not profitable you could branch out and still find ways to do your passion, maybe as a CSR.

What do you wish you knew earlier in business?

The importance of having a mentor and supportive parents. If I had more support from my parents, it would have been more helpful but I had to hide most times to do stuff.

As a matter of fact, they wanted me to get a job with one of the oil companies since I’m from the Niger Delta region. But I knew I didn’t want that kind of job.

The major challenge most businesses have is getting clients. As the client attraction genie, what would you suggest we input in our businesses?

Based on experience, people buy from people they know, like and trust. For instance, we might use a particular salon or doctor because of the relationship we have with them. Therefore, to sell you need to be deliberate. Be helpful to your clients, give compliments and be there for them.

Satisfied customers will always speak about you to others within their circle of influence. Remember, they are not just buying your product or service but the experience of you.

To sell you need to be deliberate, be helpful to your clients and be there for them Click To Tweet

What’s your tip for running a home and a business efficiently?

It’s important to have a supportive spouse, be extremely organised and plan ahead. For example, I plan ahead for the food that will be eaten and for cleaning.

In today’s world, it is important to work smart. Focus on the areas you are good at and do it with joy. The others you’re not good at, you could automate. I always stress, “Enjoy, Delegate, Automate or Delete” to my community. If you are good at something, do it with joy, enjoy the process. If it’s not your best task, delegate to someone who would do it with ease and joy. You could also automate the process to make it easier or delete it from your agenda.

IMG-20170316-WA0017

What are your final words for female entrepreneurs?

Do not make your small business make you small minded. Take it seriously and grow it to outlive you. It should not be a second fiddle because you plan to get married or you have a rich father. Get ready to burn your fingers and lose money but be open to learning.

Your business is like a child and needs time to grow, don’t expect it to start paying for all the lovely stuff you desire immediately. Invest in your business and by extension yourself too. Remember that whatever you learn makes you and your business better. If you do not know enough, learn it or pay to learn it. You either grow or retrogress in business so continual improvement is key. Give your business your best shot always.


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