JokemFruities and Events Enterprises is a healthy living company, registered in 2016 with an outlet at 3, Adeyemi Odukomaya Street, Shangisha Magodo. The business is divided into two segments: the retail side and the event side.
On the retail aspect of the business, Jokem provides healthy salads (shrimp, shredded chicken, and snail) Natural fruit juice, fruit salads, smoothies, fruit parfait, sandwich.
On the event side, Jokem caters to corporate and social events with their fruit tree, cocktails and desserts.
In an interview with Nairametrics Lead Analyst Onome Ohwovoriole, Oluwakemi Johnson, the founder of Jokem discusses a wide range of topics from her start-up capital to advice for entrepreneurs.
Onome Ohwovoriole (O.O): Why the name Jokem?
Olukemi Johnson (OJ): Jokem was a nickname given by one of my teachers in secondary school, and since then the name stuck. I chose the name Jokem because people were more familiar with that.
O.O: What led you to the juice and salad business?
0.J: Entrepreneurship classes were introduced in my final year at the Adekunle Ajasin University (AAU) Akungba Akoko. I belonged to the fresh juice group as a student. I enrolled for fashion designing while waiting for NYSC, but switched to learning about fruits when the fashion house did not show seriousness.
Initially, I wanted to work in a media house because I studied English language at the university and I served in one during NYSC. However, this was not forthcoming, so I had to look inwards. Fortunately, healthy living was just becoming a thing back then, so I decided to key into consumer’s appreciation for healthy living.
Starting my business was tough at first, funds were limited and this was what necessitated my relocation to Akure, Ondo state, from Lagos.
O.O: How much did you start with?
OJ: I got ₦8,000 from an aunt but was left with ₦4,000 after I had done a market survey. I started in December 2013 with ₦4,000. I bought a few take away packs and a few fruits.
My aunt was also kind enough to give me an apartment, which was close to a few Ministries. From there, I got my first set of clients. The very first order I made was 10 packs, and they sold out. The same thing happened in the 2nd and 3rd week.
The civil servants were impressed with my neatness and determination to do something for myself, rather than beg them for money. I got my first corporate event to supply fruit packs at a wedding, a few weeks after I started out.
The acceptance I got, encouraged me to press on. Sometimes I had to wake up early to make the juice and keep it chilled when there was a power failure.
O.O: Which do you prefer between corporate events and retail?
OJ: Corporate and retail events compliment each other. Retail customers recommend my company for corporate events. At corporate events, I also get referrals. Retail clients also help to keep the business going, at periods when there are few corporate events such as the early part of the year.
O.O: What is your current turn over?
OJ: Jokem’s annual turn over currently run into millions of Naira.
O.O: What are the challenges you face running this business?
OJ: My biggest challenge is the epileptic power situation in the country, which means sometimes means I have to wake early to make juice. A sudden change of plans by clients sometimes crops up. So a client could ask me to deliver at 6 am, rather than later in the evening as previously agreed.
O.O What would you do differently, if you were starting out all over?
OJ: I would have embraced social media much earlier to promote my business. Social media gives prospective clients a means of verifying my authenticity, especially in this era of fakes and copycats.
O.O: How do you deal with difficult customers?
OJ: I try as much as possible to satisfy my customers because they are essential to my business. I have had to replace packs earlier ordered because customers did not like them. I also take specific notes of preferences by each customer. I encourage my staff to do the same.
I am lucky to have a good staff, who take initiative in my absence. My dispatch rider often comes around to ask how else he can help
O.O: What has been your worst day so far
OJ: My worst day so far was when I had to make a delivery to Sango Ota. The client told me she was on the mainland. I ended up carrying the packages on my head. I had to go through with the order because I got the reference from someone who was based abroad, and I don’t like to disappoint my customers.
O.O: What advice do you have for upcoming entrepreneurs?
OJ: Consistency. Upcoming entrepreneurs should start small and be consistent in what they do.
How MSMEs can get easy access to finance
MSMEs must take the following steps for loan readiness.
MSMEs are considered the backbone of the Nigerian economy. In 2019, they made up 90% of all registered businesses, contributed more than 50% of the country’s nominal GDP, and employ 84% of its labour force. Despite this, MSMEs were the recipients of less than 5% of all credit granted by the banking industry.
One reason for this is self-selection by MSME owners. Many MSMEs refuse to apply for loans from banks due to a fear of rejection and a belief that banks charge exorbitant fees and request hefty collateral before giving loans to MSMEs. Now more than ever, in this era of cashflow-based lending and low-interest rates, this harmful myth is costing businesses access to finance that they need to scale.
Another reason is the MSMEs’ lack of loan readiness. Unlike large companies, small business owners do not prepare themselves before applying for loans. This causes them to make many mistakes that discourage banks from lending to them due to a fear of non-repayment.
In order to overcome this hurdle and join large businesses in taking advantage of the low-interest climate, MSMEs must take the following steps for loan readiness:
1. Maintain financial records – Research shows that 69% of MSMEs in Nigeria do not keep detailed financial records. As a business owner, you must ensure that funds pass through your business account. Your business’s financial records as reflected in your bank statement will help your bank determine your repayment capacity. This is important, whether you want a collateral-free or collateral-based loan.
2. Use narrations for transfer into personal accounts – Again, always use your business account for business funds. However, if funds must be paid into your personal account for any reason, then ensure that those payments have a narration that reflects the purpose of the payment. For example, Two shirts purchased. This helps isolate business funds from personal when computing your turnover in order to determine your loan amount and repayment capacity.
3. Know what you want – Always know exactly how much you want and what you want it for. If your account officer asks you how much you want and you say “any amount you can give me”, they automatically assume you have no plan for the money or a plan for repayment. Before approaching your bank, determine how much you need and how much you can repay per month, using your monthly income.
4. Have a repayment plan – Always have a plan for repayment. Know how much you can afford to part with per month. Note however that your repayment plan might not align with that of the bank. Banks prefer not to take more than 33% of your monthly income in loan repayments, so your loan repayment period will probably be dependent on how much you can pay per month. Regardless, a well-thought-out repayment plan will build confidence in your repayment ability.
5. Engage your account officer– It is important to have an engagement with your account officer before applying for the loan. Instead of just writing a loan application letter to the bank and waiting for a response. Armed with your financial statement and your knowledge of how much you need and for how long, visit your account officer and have them work with you in getting your loan.
Ese Atakpu is a writer and banker.
AFEX raises $50 million to Finance Agri-SMEs in Nigeria
The $50 million Agri-SMEs fund is expected to bridge the funding gap between lenders and borrowers in the agric sector.
AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited (AFEX), a private commodities exchange company, has announced the first Warehouse Receipt Backed Commercial Paper in Africa. The paper has tech-enabled operations and a 24-hour fast cash turnaround for borrowers.
This was disclosed by AFEX in a statement issued and seen by Nairametrics on Thursday.
The $50 million Agri-SMEs fund is expected to bridge the funding gap between lenders and borrowers in the Nigerian agricultural sector with a commodity-backed instrument – for the first time.
Ayodeji Balogun, CEO, AFEX, stated, “The AFEX financing deal will help eradicate the high cost of procurement incurred by processors by deploying a discounted value of a warehouse receipt distributed among five leading players in the Food and Beverage, Trading Poultry and Animal Feed segments in Nigeria.
“The receiving companies are top 10 players in their respective segments. They have now been enabled access to a tool for managing price volatility, enabling up to 30% direct savings on prices.
“With our vision to reach a cumulative total of over $5 Billion in investment to the agriculture sector over the next five years, this financing deal is right on track to achieve this goal.’’
He added that as AFEX move towards building a derivatives market in Africa, “we want to be able to reduce exposure to price risk for stakeholders, by enabling them to hedge their positions and trade in commodity derivatives.”
Why it matters
- The warehouse receipts, which can then be transferred from commodities to a financial asset and listed under the borrower’s portfolio on the AFEX trading platform, will create a sustainable funding structure and address underfunding in the Nigerian agricultural sector.
- With the warehouse receipt system linked to financiers, the system allows financiers value and marks the commodities’ price to market on a real-time basis.
What you should know
- AFEX’s mission is to provide low-risk working capital facility for stakeholders in the Agro sector, in a way that is transparent and has a very high viable investment return.
- As a licensed commodities exchange and warehouse receipt system operator, it deploys a warehouse receipt system and collateral management infrastructure to increase market confidence for both lenders and borrower.
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