Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Inspirational Interview: "Why I Started my Own Business"

In Nigeria today, many graduates look forward to clinching high-paying white collar job immediately after leaving school. While many have been lucky in this aspect, millions remain unemployed years after graduation. The truth is that the jobs are no longer there. While many of these graduates remain idle without trying anything on their own, others chose to take their destinies in their own hands by starting something no matter how small. One of those who have chosen this honourable path of entrepreneurship is Tolulope Omotunde, a graduate of Micro-Biology and the CEO of Movib Foods. She is doing extra-ordinary things with Nigeria's local rice, saving many the financial stress of buying foreign rice. The Journalist Blog spoke to the "Foodist" recently. Read excerpts of the interview below.

TJB: Tell me about yourself

Tolulope:  I am Omotunde Blessing Tolulope, a graduate of Micro-Biology from Ekiti State University and a Post-Graduate of Gender Development Studies at the same university.  I am from Ekiti State, Ifaki-Ekiti to be precise. I have always lived in Ekiti State, had all my education in Ekiti state. I was privileged to change environment for a year, all thanks to NYSC. 
Movib Rice, one of Tolu's products

TJB: What do you do for a living?

Tolulope: As someone who has expenses and needs a source of income, I realised staying idle and anticipating for a job, is not an option for me. Then I thought about what I love to do. I am foodist, who is passionate about quality service and healthy consumption. So I decided to go into the sale of hand-picked Igbemo Rice and other hand-processed food.

TJB: Is Igbemo Rice the same thing as local rice? 

Tolulope:  Yes! Here in Ekiti, we have our own locally grown rice. Ofada Rice is rice grown in Ofada Town in Ogun state. Instead of that, I sell Igbemo Rice, a rice grown in Igbemo-Ekiti. It’s our own indigenous rice and that is mostly sold around here.

TJB: So you package yours in small bags, how is that acceptable among the populace?

Tolulope: It is stony, and I hand-pick, remove shaft before packaging. Lots of people avoid eating it because of the stone-phobia and stress associated with the separation. With me removing this immediate problem, many have come to embrace it. It is time-saving and you don’t have to worry about breaking a teeth while enjoying your local dish. Not just that, a lot of people find it hard getting unadulterated plantain flour, which we call “elubo ogede”. I take the pains to buy bunches of plantain, peel, dry and powder it too. All these, just to see people get to eat healthy.

TJB: Lets talk about the business now. Have you been succeeding?

Tolulope:  I am in business for barely a month now, and I must say God has been faithful, though it hasn’t been easy. Trying to build a client base is one hard nut to crack, as a start-up. Feedback from clients have been positive, with some promising to come back for more. So far, no negative feedback has been given and that’s what motivates more about the business.

TJB: How was it starting? Any discouragements?

Tolulope: I started small, I just told few persons that I am starting to sell hand-picked rice. When they showed interest, I picked up my mum’s rice and started picking. That was how I started. With the increase in demand, I had to go for a bag. I wasn’t packaging, In fact, I sold per rubber for sometime. With the dream I have in mind as a foodpreneur, I had to start packaging and then look forward to the bigger picture.

Discouragements? There are days I wished I have more money to brand properly, register my business and introduce more food items to my stock. Then I wish I can reach out to more persons so as to patronise me and delivering to clients outside my location too. But it has been getting better with time. I am very positive I will get through this phase successfully, shortly.

TJB: So where do you see yourself in 5-years?

Tolulope: In 5-years, I see myself as a household brand, with most homes having our products on their shelf and our products will be readily available in reputable stores across the country. With my background in Micro-Biology, I am currently working on a very nutritious food. I am hoping we can have it round the year, as it’s seasonal and we also don’t have to worry about food poisoning. I look forward to having a breakthrough in that aspect by then.

Part of our proceeds will go to charity, as am very passionate about girls’ education. Then I am looking forward to my brand to champion girls’ education and other beautiful initiatives.

TJB: On a lighter note, tell me about your relationship. Any man around? My readers may want to know.

Tolulope: I don’t mix business with pleasure, neither do I take distractions lightly. I interact a lot, which is obvious on my social media handles. I am single and I am not in a rush to settle down. I deserve the best and I’m patiently anticipating.

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