It can only take innovation, creativity and good managerial skills for someone like Bimpe Ajibola, a 29-year old Physiologist, to excel by selling foods and catering for people within the country’s seemingly harsh business environment where epileptic power supply, multiple taxation and other logistics challenges are order of the day.
This is a young lady who has worked in flagship retail outlets and a logistics firm in Nigeria such as Jumia, Polo Luxury and African Courier Express as the head of sales, business development; retail coordinator, client relationship manager, among others, having bagged Bachelor of Science in Physiology from the University of Ibadan (UI) in 2012.
She joined all these firms immediately she finished at the College of Basic Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan (UI), where she was able to gather the capital for which she set up foods business in 2015. But she couldn’t succeed for lack of managerial skills and probably innovation and creativity. She had to pack up and eventually left Lagos, having run into a big loss.
The Owo, Ondo State-born Ajibola, had to resurface in 2017 to start all over again and learn the rules of the game in a very hard way, though taking various courses in business management, investing in personal development. In less than one year, she grew a paltry N3, 000 to N3 million with Ivie’s Kitchen and caterers for Lagosians. She also opened Ivie’s Food Business Hub where over 40 people have been empowered with skills acquisitions in less than four months.
“I initially wanted to be a Paediatric Surgeon, but there is a difference between what you really have passion for and what you think you like. I have always loved cooking or anything that has to do with foods. I have always experimenting when it comes to foods,” she says.
“My mother, being an Edo woman, is basically what inspired all of this in me and along the line, since what I studied seems not getting me what I want. I worked in companies but everything I have done is not in line with what I studied. I had a Bsc to get a job, that was it,” she discloses.
“In January 2015, I started my food business, and not up to a year, the business crashed. The business crashed because I did not have fundamental knowledge of running a business properly. The business crashed and I had to move out of Lagos. But in 2017, I came back and was now stronger. I later realised that food business is capital intensive but at the same time, it’s a business that you can start with nothing.
“N3,000 to N3 million? Yes, having proper structure put in place helps me increase my profit margin and I’m pumping the money back into the business. All I need is to get is the orders. Once you have made payment and I have it confirmed, we can go ahead with your orders and that is how it all started.
“That was why I said I didn’t need much money to start it and it grew to 10 – 20 orders, catering for small parties, for companies and individual parties, and less than a year I generated over N3 million. I know it could do better. Food business is a good business if you are running it properly.”
Speaking on Ivie’s Food Business Hub, which was established by Bimpe Ajibola to teach women and girls rudiments of food business – cooking, food catering and food business management, Ajibola says critical missing links, such as legal aspects, market intelligence, access to information, collaboration opportunities, government policies, among others, are taught to influence the Nigerian food business better.
The recipe creator, who describes herself as self-thought chef, discloses that over 40 women and girls have been taught and empowered by Ivie’s Food Business Hub in last four months. She says to be in food business one has to be innovative and creative. The entrepreneur says she is out to ensure that food business is improved in Nigeria in order to improve people’s lives.