Create products that people need, something that solves a genuine problem – Ehime Akindele
Mrs. Ehime Eigbe-Akindele is the founder and CEO of Sweetkiwi Frozen Yogurt. She holds a degree in Business Information Technology and International Studies from London Metropolitan University. Eigbe-Akindele has also completed an Entrepreneur Management program at the Enterprise Development Centre of Pan-African University in Lagos. Ehime Eigbe-Akindele is a dairy explorer, entrepreneur, and a remarkable pioneer of frozen yogurt in the African market.
Her brand ‘Sweetkiwi Frozen Yogurt’ Sweetkiwi Frozen Yogurt is an enterprise that provides premium and healthy frozen yogurt using the freshest, finest and richest ingredients. The brand specializes Frozen Yogurt, Smoothies, Parfaits, and Waffles, and more. It’s a healthier alternative dessert to the calorie type of ice cream. Through Sweetkiwi, Eigbe-Akindele wants to promote and create a trend in the Nigerian community about the importance of healthy eating habits.
Who is Ehime away from the SweetKiwi Business?
Ehime away from Sweetkiwi Founder is a new mom who is figuring out being a mom. I love music, love to dance, love tennis and I love movies I should be a professional movie critic. I also love food, so I am always trying out new recipes.
You have been a recipient of grants recently, What has the process been like?
I have been very blessed lately and won several grants that we applied for. I think the key is learning our story most authentically. We won the VISA & I Fund Women Black Women-Owned Grant, The Red Backpack Grant by Sara Blakely & Spanx, The ‘Do You’ grant by Digital Undivided, and a grant for winning the Black Girls Ventures Pitch. God has truly favored us in this season. We typically apply and go through the process, some require pitching, some do not so it is important to practice being able to pitch your business and tell your story in a way that resonates with your audience.
Sweet kiwi Launched CPG Products in Whole Foods – Washington D.C. Congratulations! It must have been an incredible experience. Share your experience with us?
It was definitely an incredible experience to be able to see our products on the shelf and see my face on freezer doors. A very humbling experience! We launched our products in the US last year and we were already in smaller grocery stores, so it was great being able to pitch to the Whole Foods Team, and being accepted was the biggest validation of my career. I remember not being able to sleep the night before we were meant to launch, I woke up early the next morning and drove into the store, it was so surreal seeing our products on the shelves.
What are some of your future plans for Sweet Kiwi?
Sweetkiwi is going to continue growing our vision of creating the best tasting low-calorie desserts and food products. We are currently backward integration to create more value within the local Nigeria dairy chain. We will be putting out more dairy-based consumer packaged goods in our bid to support the growth of the local dairy industry. We will keep growing in the US market and start looking to explore other markets in Africa and Europe.
You are young and getting it, what are some of the business lessons you had to learn the hard way?
Beware of little expenses, a small leak will sink a great ship.
Keep innovating, never be stagnant
Committing all my plans into the hands of God
Be unrelenting about your dream but flexible in your methods.
With your years of experience as an entrepreneur, what advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs in the food and beverage ( CPG) business?
My advice is to create products that people need, something that solves a genuine problem people have and you are already successful. A business born for just profits will find it difficult to connect with consumers. In everything you do, look at how you can add value to your customers, your team, and with a community focus.
The name of your flavors are unique, is there a story behind each flavor?
Our flavors are created through listening research, we listen to what consumers are saying and we create flavors that meet their needs.
What are some of the advice you would give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to trust God more and not worry so much. Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. – Prov 16:3
As a woman in business with spanning years of experience, what would you advise the younger generation?
Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire. I believe women can have it all, you just have to be flexible, prayerful, and wise. Wisdom is what we all need!
You have been vocal about the government assisting SMEs in Nigeria – Kindly give us specific points on how the government can assist?
The government needs to do a better job of removing the tax burdens and harassment small businesses face, instead, they should be creating programs to support the growth and longevity of small businesses. This same government offers more support to international brands than their own home grown brands, they get more grants and government funded loans however the tax burdens then to fall on the small businesses who they do not show any support to. Till date the 50bn Covid loans have yet to reach the majority of businesses that need the money and there is no transparency on how said funds were applied. SMEs who even received the funds got only 10% of the amount promised so there is a lot that really needs to change in governance.
With expansion comes more responsibilities. Will you be more focused on Sweet Kiwi in the states than in Nigeria, which is more profitable?
Sweetkiwi is one company regardless of location so I am focused on Sweetkiwi.
Elizabeth Osho is a detailed strategist and a communications expert. She is the founder of So.MeSolutions, a communications company that has helped a significant number of brands boost their possibilities including Sterling Bank, South African Tourism, MasterCard Foundation, Unilever, Filmhouse Cinemas, Sweetkiwi to name a few. Liz has been recorded among the100 most inspiring women in Nigeria (2017). She was likewise interviewed by CNN where she spearheaded one of the most insightful events on Digital marketing tagged Dedicated to Digital.