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Gideon Olanrewaju: The food entrepreneur, with eye on healthy nutrition

Gideon Olanrewaju
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Nigeria’s problems create multi-billion naira opportunities. It is, therefore, no surprise that Gideon Olanrewaju, co-founder of BikeAndBlend, is making money from solving one of these problems.

Malnutrition and obesity remain two big challenges in Nigeria. According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), malnutrition is a direct or underlying cause of 45 percent of all deaths of under-five children in the country.

To change this narrative, Gideon and his fiancée Temilade Salami co-founded BikeAndBlend to provide Nigerians daily nutritional requirements for their development. They focus more on children through their 100 percent organic fruit drink variants provided at affordable prices.

Gideon, who studied Nutritional Biochemistry from Ladoke Akintola University, was inspired to establish the business in 2017 as a result of his own personal experience while studying for his master’s degree in the United Kingdom.

The young entrepreneur was restricted to high cholesterol fast foods upon his arrival to the United Kingdom for his programme. This made him gain lots of weight in four months, as he was becoming obese.

To shed off some fat, Gideon joined a challenge that involved fruit blending race competition for students. He succeeded in this and lost 27kg afterwards by eating healthy.

“To shed off fat, I joined a 60-day fitness challenge that involves fruit blending race competitions among students and this was my first encounter with Blender Bicycles,” he recalls.

“I lost over 27kg afterwards and I was intrigued to adopt such a fitness-nutrition idea into Nigeria,” he adds.

“Using pedal-powered blender bicycles, BikeAndBlend provides health-conscious customers with organic, instantly prepared 100 percent fruit smoothies as healthy alternatives to sugar-sweetened and carbonated soft drinks,” he says.

In 2018, Gideon and Timilade established BikeAndBlend.

The initial start-up capital was N5million, which was raised from their personal savings, family and friends. Gideon and Timilade, the co-founder, used the initial capital in securing a warehouse, equipment and raw materials.

The fruits and vegetables are sourced from smallholder farmers and open markets across the country. “We currently source our organic, locally grown fruits and vegetables for our events from small- scale fruit farmers and in the open markets,” he says.

Since starting, the business has grown and it now attracts various invitations to multiple events on weekly basis. “We are managing to attract invitation to multiple events on weekly basis now, but we are coping,” Gideon says.

The business currently has two full-time employees and two part-time employees.

Gideon states that innovation has driven the continual existence of the business despite tough economic environment in the country.

“Innovation is the vital key behind our continual existence,” he says.

“By creating new and innovative products and packages, we continually engage different stakeholders within the fitness and nourishment industry to ensure brand relevance and value addition,” he explains.

Also, the flexible pricing strategy has made BikeAndBlend remain in business.

Answering questions on the challenges confronting the business, the young entrepreneur says seasonality of fruits, inadequate storage facility and short shelf life remain the biggest issues.

“With huge volume of demand, refrigeration doesn’t prevent fruits from spoilage, as we often tend to buy in large quantities to save cost and stock up for subsequent events,” he further explains.

Another major challenge is the unavailability of blender bikes in local markets. Importing them has shot up the company’s production price.

“The peculiarity of our business is built on the innovation of our blender bikes and because we have a few bikes which were actually imported at a high cost, our service delivery and other services are somehow affected,” he says.

He also identifies huge infrastructural gap as a major challenge limiting the growth of the business.

The graduate of Ladoke Akintola University urges the government to bridge the huge infrastructural gaps in the country to drive industrialisation and production of machines in the country.

He says that the firm plans to secure partnerships with corporate organisations and government at all levels for implementation of wellness programmes to drive nutrition in the country.

Similarly, it plans to launch a franchise model. “We are launching a franchise model that will result in the opening of more outlets in various high traffic locations such as shopping malls and plazas, restaurants and cafes, market stalls, hotels and universities,” the young entrepreneur discloses.

Gideon, who is a serial entrepreneur, has been honoured with a 2015 YALI Tech Camp Alumnus, a 2016 Teaching Fellow of the African Leadership Academy and a 2018 UNESCO Young Leader Award.

On his advice to young entrepreneurs, he says, “When you set out to do business in Nigeria, you must love what you do to become successful in it. Passion and grit are key in running a successful business in Nigeria.”

“Also, be fearless in your execution but strategic in your planning. Funding may not be readily available locally but it should not be a stumbling block from meeting your goals and setting milestones.

“Research on funding opportunities within your sphere and learn to leverage on the power of social media to increase visibility about your brand. And never stop trying our new ideas on how best to produce your goods or deliver your services. Lastly, pay close attention to customer satisfaction and feedback. It’s key for your long term returns,” he concludes.

 

Josephine Okojie

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