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How Jos inspired Finnish entrepreneur, Mira Mehta, to establish famous ‘Tomato Jos’

When Mira Mehta made the decision to relocate to Nigeria in 2014, her father questioned her choice of residence.

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Mira Mehta of Tomato Jos speaks to Nairametrics, Tomato crisis in Nigeria, Tomato production in Northern Nigeria, Twitter Tweet Chat

When Mira Mehta made the decision to relocate to Nigeria in 2014, her father questioned her choice of residence.

“But you already lived there once! Why do you want to go and live there again?” he asked. That question didn’t have the perfect answer. Mehta just couldn’t shake off the emotional attachment she has for Nigeria, a country she has been living in since 2008.

Mehta, who is a Finnish/Indian and American citizen, had the opportunity to begin her career in a developed country where basic amenities are readily available to be utilised. Instead, she chose to establish an agricultural company in a Sub-Saharan African emerging economy like Nigeria. Now mind you, she didn’t even establish her company in Lagos, the so called commercial hub of the country. Instead, she went all the way up north.

Why Northern Nigeria?

So what made Mehta prefer Northern Nigeria as the location for her business, Tomato Jos? Could it be the market size or guaranty of returns on investment? After all, Lagos is like the promise land for entrepreneurs. Regardless, reports about the environment and entrepreneurial spirit of Northern Nigerians were enough to lure Mehta and her dreams.

That was how Tomato Jos was established in Nasarawa State before it was eventually moved to Kaduna. Nairametrics learnt all these during a TweetChat we had with the her yesterday, April 26, 2019.

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Why Tomato Jos?

The name of Mehta’s business shows the deep connection she has with the North. According to her, the fondness she has for Northern Nigeria was influenced by the likes of Sim Shagaya (the Founder of Konga and Executive Chairman of DealDey) and his friends who kept telling her how beautiful their town, Jos.

How she raised capital to establish Tomato Jos

While trying to set up Tomato Jos, Mehta approached friends and family with a SAFE (Simple Agreement for Future Equity) document.

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What is SAFE?: It is an agreement between an investor and a company that provides rights to the investor for future equity in the company similar to a warrant; except without determining a specific price per share at the time of the initial investment.

Tomato Jos operates in three segments;

  1. Farming tomatoes (and maize and soy in the rainy season),
  2. Processing tomatoes, and
  3. Selling a branded product – So far we’re only really doing the first thing, but the company intends to start processing in 2020.

Mehta disclosed during the TweetChat that the company is currently in need of capital in order to build a factory that will process tomatoes and improve Tomato Jos‘ financials.

Mehta said Tomato Jos operates like any other tomato paste company

Challenges faced in the business

Although Tomato Jos has yet to begin full-fledged tomato paste business, Mehta said the non-availability of raw materials makes it difficult for her paste business. Therefore, there is need to always farm.

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Short term plan for Tomato Jos

Mehta said during the TweetChat with Nairametrics that the goal is to launch Tomato Jos’ tomato paste brand in the second quarter of 2020.

Olalekan is a certified media practitioner from the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ). In the era of media convergence, Olalekan is a valuable asset, with ability to curate and broadcast news. His zeal to write was developed out of passion to shape people’s thought and opinion; serving as a guideline for their daily lives. Contact for tips: [email protected]

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    April 27, 2019 at 4:38 am

    Oh please give me a break , tomatoes jos has been in existence for long befor she came to naija, y’all just love to promote foreigners, that’s all.

    • Daniel

      April 29, 2019 at 9:10 am

      “Anonymous April 27, 2019 at 4:38 am
      Oh please give me a break , tomatoes jos has been in existence for long befor she came to naija, y’all just love to promote foreigners, that’s all.”

      You are not intelligent. It does not matter whether it is a foreigner or indigene. The issue is about promoting young businesses playing in challenging spaces, especially with the volatile political situation across Nigeria and the tough economic realities. I will be glad that she can get investors, can imagine the job she will create. As a foreign national, she could have taken her work elsewhere than labour painfully. Go and start a business and witness what it takes before releasing feeble-minded statements.

  2. Stephen

    April 27, 2019 at 5:39 am

    This is good news for us in Jos…it means value addition in every sector of our economy (employment, farmers, security etc). Well done guys!

    • Gyang

      April 27, 2019 at 9:31 am

      Did you read the article at all? It’s called Tomato Jos, but it is NOT based in Jos. I don’t know why she decided to do that because Jos’ tomatoes are so good, hence the popular term “tomato Jos”.

  3. Anonymous

    April 27, 2019 at 12:28 pm

    Not that easy, tomato can be in short supply, not enough income to keep up the factory and can lead to closer,oh yes marketing and distribution is a tough terain in niaja. good luck

  4. Anodebenze

    May 2, 2019 at 3:59 pm

    if I do not like Nigeria or Nigerians I do now. i.e that is if I am not a Nigerian, nobody is addressing the issue of tomatoe production in jos.if miss Mehta is going into production,we do not know ? if nairametric is informing us or educating us,we do not know ?all I saw is a white woman making a lots of noise,from south east of Nigeria,we do get potatoes,tomatoes,some vegetable down south to south south part of Nigeria. what Does this woman really want ?Does she want to take the advantage of agricultural industry in jos area because of jos mild temperature of that area.we do have a sizeable white people living in jos,who came during the colonization and still stayed in jos area.Mr John Major,the former prime minister of Britain was living in jos town during the colonization,he was working as a banker in jos
    What I enjoyed is Gyang comment Why ?he wrote because he is from jos area,he could be an idoma or tiv person.he know what he is talking about

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Business

Lagos shuts 3 container terminals, hotel in Amuwo Odofin, seals 17 buildings in Lekki

The government has moved to seal illegal terminals and unapproved structures in the state.

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Lagos issues ultimatum to Tank Farm Operators over planning permit, Lagos seals 27 residential and commercial buildings in Lekki, LASG Seals 19 more Buildings in Banana Island over planning permit

The Lagos State Government has moved to stop activities of the illegal container terminals with the sealing up of 3 illegal locations along Festac Link Bridge, Amuwo Odofin. This also includes the one used for batching sand underneath the bridge, among others.

The state government, in its continued clampdown on illegal structure, sealed off 17 buildings at Oniru Estate, Lekki and several others along Oniru Beach. It also sealed the Festival Hotel and a 9-floor serviced apartment illegally renovated in Amuwo Odofin.

This disclosure was made by the Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Idris Salako, while supervising the sealing off of the facilities, in the company of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Urban Development, Ganiyu Adele Ayuba, and Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Arc. Foluso Dipe.

Salako noted that the existence of container terminals and docks must be controlled in order to forestall abuse of the physical environment and ensure environmental sustainability.

He explained that the container terminals, some of which also operated unapproved docks, are located indiscriminately in apparent contravention of the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning Law 2019 which stipulates that prospective developers must obtain Planning Information and Planning Permit as necessary conditions for locating such facilities.

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While ordering the removal of the container trucks along Festac-Mile 2 link-bridge, the Commissioner said that the State Government would not condone the existence of illegal terminals or similar facilities across the metropolis in view of their impacts on the infrastructure and natural resources of the State.

Salako urged anyone interested in setting up such facilities to approach the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development for Planning Information, which would give informed advice on approvable locations, and also obtain a Planning Permit from the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA).

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Coronavirus

COVID-19 Update in Nigeria

On the 18th of September 2020, 221 new confirmed cases and 1 death were recorded in Nigeria.

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The spread of novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) in Nigeria continues to record increases as the latest statistics provided by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control reveal Nigeria now has 56,956 confirmed cases.

On the 18th of September 2020, 221 new confirmed cases and 1 death were recorded in Nigeria, having carried out a total daily test of 2,609 samples across the country.

To date, 56,956 cases have been confirmed, 48,305 cases have been discharged and 1,094 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory. A total of 482,321  tests have been carried out as of September 18th, 2020 compared to 479,712 tests a day earlier.

COVID-19 Case Updates- 18th September 2020,

  • Total Number of Cases – 56,956
  • Total Number Discharged – 48,305
  • Total Deaths – 1,094
  • Total Tests Carried out – 482,321

According to the NCDC, the 221 new cases were reported from 18 states- Lagos (59), Abia (46), FCT (22), Gombe (20), Plateau (17), Rivers (11), Bauchi (7), Benue (6), Ekiti (6), Imo (6), Kaduna (4), Kwara (4), Ondo (4), Ogun (3), Osun (3), Bayelsa (1), Edo (1), Kano (1)

Meanwhile, the latest numbers bring Lagos state total confirmed cases to 18,827, followed by Abuja (5,526), Oyo (3,226), Plateau (3,192), Edo (2,611), Kaduna (2,326), Rivers (2,220), Delta (1,799), Ogun (1,758), Kano (1,734), Ondo (1,594), Enugu (1,234), Ebonyi (1,035), Kwara (1,013), Abia (881), Katsina (845), Osun (810), Gombe (799), Borno (741), and Bauchi (689).

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Imo State has recorded 557 cases, Benue (473), Nasarawa (447), Bayelsa (394),  Jigawa (322), Ekiti (313), Akwa Ibom (288), Niger (250), Anambra (232), Adamawa (230), Sokoto (161), Taraba (95), Kebbi (93), Cross River (85), Zamfara (78), Yobe (73), while Kogi state has recorded 5 cases only.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Western diplomats warn of disease explosion, poor handling by government

Lock Down and Curfew

In a move to combat the spread of the pandemic disease, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days, which took effect from 11 pm on Monday, 30th March 2020.

The movement restriction, which was extended by another two-weeks period, has been partially put on hold with some businesses commencing operations from May 4. On April 27th, 2020, Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari declared an overnight curfew from 8 pm to 6 am across the country, as part of new measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19. This comes along with the phased and gradual easing of lockdown measures in FCT, Lagos, and Ogun States, which took effect from Saturday, 2nd May 2020, at 9 am.

On Monday, 29th June 2020 the federal government extended the second phase of the eased lockdown by 4 weeks and approved interstate movement outside curfew hours with effect from July 1, 2020. Also, on Monday 27th July 2020, the federal government extended the second phase of eased lockdown by an additional one week.

On Thursday, 6th August 2020 the federal government through the secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 announced the extension of the second phase of eased lockdown by another four (4) weeks.

READ ALSO: Bill Gates says Trump’s WHO funding suspension is dangerous

 

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Business

Fire guts fuel tanker, vehicles at Anthony, Lagos

The tanker conveying PMS lost control while in motion and subsequently fell sideways.

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NNPC reacts to Lagos pipeline explosion

There is a fire outbreak, which has gutted a fuel tanker, at Anthony inward Gbagada, Lagos State.

This was disclosed by the Federal Fire Service via its Twitter handle on Friday evening. The incident, which occurred around 10 pm, has razed at least two vehicles.

The agency urged road users to avoid the area and take alternative routes.

Also, the Director-General of the Lagos State Emergency Agency, Dr Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, confirmed the incident.

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He said, “The Agency responded to distress calls and upon arrival at the scene of incident, it was discovered that a tanker with unknown registration number conveying PMS lost control while in motion and subsequently fell sideways.

“This led to an explosion in which two unidentified vehicles were burnt.”

A joint team of responders led by the Federal Fire Service, LASEMA, LASG fire service, LRU fire unit, Nigeria Police and LASTMA are working together to curb the inferno from escalating further.

Details soon …

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