In Nigeria, starting and running a business – any business, is no walk in the park, as countless entrepreneurs have failed repeatedly. Hence, starting and successfully scaling a business, is a feather only few can lay claim to.
Co-founder and CEO of Loshes Chocolate, Femi Oyedipe, was a guest on the Nairametrics Business Half Hour, where she shared her start-up story and succeeding in a field where she was entirely self-taught.
The graduate of Biochemistry from the premiere University of Ibadan, recalls that her decision to start producing chocolates locally meant that her office became her classroom. Her words described the satisfaction she has derived from this chosen path.
“The fun of trying out new recipes, making mistakes, learning and unlearning till you understand the best recipes is a huge reward,” she said.
The decision to start
Entrepreneurship is innate for her, since she always gravitated towards it. However, taking it as a full-time venture definitely seemed less attractive. So, she tried out other options, things she could do alongside a day job. She had a brief stint as a make-up artist, and then another in trading Ankara fabrics, before becoming a cake-maker.
It was while making cakes, Femi picked interest in chocolates. As a caterer, she would use them in some cakes, sometimes breaking or melting ready-made chocolates.
“It did not make sense to me that we still had to import almost all the chocolates on the store shelf, even when we had cocoa locally available,” she recalled.
However, she was still hesitant to take the bull by the horn, until 2015.
“I had my eye on a job I was going to start when I came back from the U.S in 2015, and it was supposed to take me on a totally different career path. When it didn’t come through, I was upset and disappointed. It was in the midst of this disappointment, that the inspiration to make chocolates came.”
It dawned on her that the major ingredient for chocolates – cocoa, was locally available in large quantities, and decided to challenge the norm of importing chocolates for consumption. From her house, in that same year, she started Loshes Chocolate. The single-origin, bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Nigeria.
Capital is key to any start-up venture, and it was no different for Loshes Chocolate. Femi pooled resources with her husband, and started by sourcing cocoa from local farmers, then processing it into chocolate for direct consumption, and for use by caterers and confectioners.
“The drive was ensuring that we retain the natural flavors and health benefits of cocoa, as against the usual mass-produced chocolates which have lots of additives. People are becoming more conscious of eating healthy foods, and we try to meet that need while producing chocolates that are still yummy,” she said.
Being domiciled in one of the largest cocoa-producing countries, availability of the major ingredient had taken care of a lot of problems except for electricity – a possible deal-breaker.
“It takes about 36 to 48 hours to grind the cocoa beans into powder, and you can imagine how much power that consumes,”
“We needed some machines to get started and could not lay hands on them at the time, so my husband being an engineer helped to fabricate some of them. We got some parts from local markets in Lagos state, like Orile and put them together to make the machines we needed,” she explained.
Femi understood early on that, variety is the spice of life, so She spent time trying out new recipes, with family members and friends also serving as ‘guinea pigs’ for each new recipe. This served as a great source of feedback.
Later on, they needed to get the specialized machinery, and Femi recalled how fluctuations in Foreign Exchange, and the availability of manpower to maintain and service the machines posed a serious challenge.
Yet, she remains graceful in her advice to would-be entrepreneurs. “Just start where you can. In there, is where the innovation lies, because you do not have access to so much, and the business environment in Nigeria is not easy for SMEs. Instead of turning your back, you stay and become creative,”
With so many milestones attained, the company is not resting on its laurels. Loshes Chocolates still serves the local market at the moment, but there are plans to raise funds, scale-up, and start exporting. Femi is optimistic in the possibilities that abounds for her company, as is evident from her mantra, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”
BMGA is more than a training platform for fresh graduates | Gbemisola A Abudu, Founder BMGA | BHH
Eden Life set out to automate domestic chores for busy people – CEO
Eden Life connects people with professional home managers, using its app that helps them outsource the tasks to professionals.
Nothing dampens the desire to work like that nagging feeling that you have left some house chores unattended, or you have to go fix your next meal. But Eden life exists to fix this issue.
According to Nadayar Enegesi, CEO and founder of Eden Life, Eden was set up solely to improve the quality of life of the working middle-class person, who is so busy and yet needs the domestic chores to run on auto-pilot.
Speaking at the weekly Nairametrics Business Half Hour, Nadayar said when he came to Lagos in 2014 to co-found Andela, he first noticed that very few things worked, as they should and things were quite difficult for the working class adults, irrespective of how rich they were.
Often times, people had to resort to the use of helps in order to function properly, but because most of the helps have not been trained to handle the chores without supervision, you end up spending more time trying to get them to do it right, than you would have doing it yourself. At the end of the day, the money has been spent without getting corresponding value.
In a bid to create a better life and community where things ran smoothly, Nadayar teamed with a couple of friends, Prosper Otemuyiwa and Sim Momoh, to do an urban development research to see how things could be done differently to make people’s lives better.
“We were first thinking along the lines of Urban development Centres where people could migrate to and basically change their lives, but that was going to be capital intensive and we ran into money challenges before even getting started. So we decided to approach the problem differently and instead look at how to make people achieve better quality of life,” Nadayar explained.
Just like the Garden of Eden, Eden life is out to ensure that things run as they should, and you get to live a better quality of life.
“My long term vision is to build Nigeria and Africa into a place that people want to live in as opposed to a place that they want to leave from,” Nadayar says.
With Edenlife, customers get to select services they want and how they want it, and then it runs on autopilot henceforth. There would be no need to place an order for a meal everyday, or call the cleaner every morning to put the house in order. The user will also be spared the troubles of having to micromanage a house help to do things when they should be done, as the Eden life Concierge team does all of these, ensuring that the service delivery comes when and how it should.
It hardly makes sense that you leave your house in the morning by 5am to deal with all the traffic madness that Lagos has to offer, come back in the evening and your home is a mess. With reliable, timely, and quality services assured, workers can now go about the business of making more money and leaving the little details that take up all their time.
Executing service to precision
Launched in April 2019, Eden Life connects people with professional home managers, using its app that helps them outsource the tasks to professionals known as the Gardeners. These ‘gardeners’ are trained home managers and handle all the hassles to ensure that the services are delivered when and how they should.
An average monthly subscription of N36,000 could avail users a variety of domestic services, ranging from meals to laundry and cleaning, and it goes all the way upward depending on just how much more the user wants.
The app also allows users to customize their subscription with the specific needs that they have. Once a user subscribes, the app attaches them to a ‘gardener’, who they can give instructions to from within the app.
On the average, artisans and skilled labourers are associated with some sort of disappointing service, and this is the reason Edenlife chose not to work with artisans.
“Trust is at the core of what we do and we cannot afford to breach that,” he explained.
Eden Life instead works with a collection of small businesses that have been checked and verified for their services. These businesses also have to have some sort of insurance services, because no one ever plans to have things go wrong until they actually do.
“Insurance is necessary because of the mistakes that occasionally come up with service delivery.”
The company recently secured a funding round from Samurai Incubate Africa and the US-based Village Global to help expand its operations, after taking part in an accelerator program conducted by the firm.
With its cheap subscriptions, the model is not yet built for profitability, but according to Nadayar, the plan is to build a sustainable model within the next couple of years before seeking more funding and expanding to other busy cities in Africa like Abuja, Accra, etc.
With more people spending money on domestic helps and home cleaning services, Eden life has a huge market to go after and is not bothered about the competition. One of its core values considered during recruitments is customer obsession and this stands at the core of all services to clients.
“We will continue to raise the bar on service delivery and customer satisfaction and our hope is that more service providers cross the bar because ultimately, the goal is to give busy people a better quality of life, while they pursue career goals,” Nadayar said.
Now you can avoid house chores by automating them on Eden | Nadayar Enegesi CEO at Eden