Every entrepreneur in Nigeria has a unique story to tell and usually an inspirational story of how his or her own personal entrepreneurial journey started. For Abioye Tunde-Anjous and Ladi Oshinaike, co-founders of SirChefs Food and Beverage, their food inspiration came directly from the personal stories of the employees they found around them.
SirChefs Food and Beverage is a real celebration of Nigeria’s food industry, with its essence created from local and traditional ingredients that are unique.
Through its Breakfast King brand, Abioye and Ladi provide Nigeria’s Pap (popularly called Ogi or akamu) and Akara (bean cake) in cups. The pack enables employees and people with busy schedules to take breakfast quickly and regularly.
“The idea behind our business came when we were both working with the health insurance industry. As a pharmacist, one of my roles in my former organisation was to talk to employees about their health and each time I asked if they had taken breakfast, I got a ‘no’ response from most of them,” Abioye says.
“Living a fast-paced lifestyle is often why workers often skip their breakfast. Knowing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and how it can make workers productive, I decided to fill the gap by providing them the right meal for breakfast,” Abioye states.
After doing some research on what the ideal breakfast could be, Abioye shared his idea with Ladi, his friend and colleague then, who bought into it and in 2017 they established SirChef Food and Beverage.
“We identified that even if there were options available for breakfast, they were not very healthy, and the ones that were healthy, you find them very expensive. So we felt we could make the food available and affordable ,” Ladi discloses.
Abioye and Ladi started their business with the money they raised from their personal savings while they were working and also sourced additional capital from family and friends.
The co-founders tell Start-Up-Digest that their business has grown tremendously since starting their operation owing to global standards adopted in production and excellent customer service, as well as repeated patronage and high referral rates from their previous customers.
“Despite we started the business at the height of Nigeria’s recession, which was not probably the best time to start, we have been able to survive and grow new number of clients,” the pharmacists-turned-entrepreneur says.
“We have never spent anything on advertisement. Our previous customers have been the ones doing it for us. We regularly get referrals for them,” Abioye further says.
The young entrepreneurs also point out that they have not taken any loan from money deposit banks since starting.
SirChef Food and Beverage currently has 26 full-time and part-time employees. “At the moment, we have 26 staff members working with us both directly and indirectly,” Ladi says.
Both entrepreneurs tell Start-Up-Digest that they source most of their raw materials locally and that plans are ongoing for the business to own a farm.
“We source most of our raw materials locally and produce all our food products applying global standards. We only import our packaging materials overseas, but we do the printing here to create employment for Nigerians,” Ladi explains.
“We have started discussing with some packaging companies in the country and very soon we will begin to source from them,” he adds.
It has not all been rosy for the two entrepreneurs as logistics weaknesses have continued to impact negatively on their business.
According to the entrepreneurs, the traffic situation in Lagos has remained the major challenge confronting the business. Poor road infrastructure across the state is also another big factor. The entrepreneurs say that these have impacted their delivery time negatively.
To address this, Abioye and Ladi have made huge investments in buying bikes, making use of personal cars for deliveries to customers. Also, the co-founders have decentralised their delivery channels to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in delivery.
“The major challenge for our business is logistics. It was a nightmare when we started initially because we had to outsource to other vendors to help with our deliveries.
“It was not a pleasant experience, so we brought out a bit of extra money to get our own bikes, and we had to use our personal vehicles as well,” Abioye says.
“In some cases we had to hop out of the car, go ahead and ask the driver to come and meet us. It was absolutely crazy initially, but it was very encouraging with the support we got from family, friends and from some of our customers,” Ladi says.
They urge the Federal Government to address the huge infrastructural gaps in the country, noting that it will ease the challenge of doing business in the country.
They also call on the government to open up other means of transport system in the country to reduce the pressure on road infrastructure.
“The government needs to provide a conducive environment for businesses to thrive, especially start-ups. In terms of power, road and rail infrastructure, there is a lot that needs to be done. We know how much we spend on power on a monthly basis,” they both say.
On expansion plans, the co-founders say they plan to adopt technology to make processes seamless and grow the business. The entrepreneurs add that they adhere to corporate governance.
Also, the young entrepreneurs are planning to expand their operations to other major cities across the country.
On advice they are willing to offer other entrepreneurs, Ladi says, “Solving problems is not a quick fix; it is a gradual process. So be focused and be passionate about what you want to achieve. Awareness is very crucial and ensure you provide a product that has value.”
For Abioye, “Be informed and willing to learn new things. Do thorough research about the sector you want to invest in and mingle with the right people. You must also learn time management if you want to succeed as an entrepreneur.”…