Today on TEF Alumni Corner, we discuss with one of our entrepreneurs from Nigeria, Seton Oluwabukola Oyekemi, she is a highly experienced farmer and seasoned trader and she focuses on farming and exporting of a Unique specie of premium rice called the Ofada Rice.
Q: Can you tell us about your business?
A: My Business Name is Seton Oluwabukola Oyekemi Ventures also known as SOO Ventures, a registered company with the CAC registration number BV3. I deal in packaged and bagged Ofada rice and my Trademark is AuntyKiks Ofada Rice. Ofada rice is a specie of rice which is also known as Farro 44 and botanically called Oryza Sativa. My business is in the rice production and processing value chain. Both the production and processing level demands trained and skilled workers.
Q: What inspired your business and how old is it now?
A: I had several training and experience in the Rice business. There was massive importation of foreign rice over the years but the Government saw a huge loss in the Gross Domestic Product and needed to resuscitate the agricultural sector under the auspices of the former Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Femi Adesina now the President of the African Development Bank (ADB). There was a need to revamp the Agricultural sector with emphasis on some staple crops like Rice; an embargo was placed on importation of foreign rice to encourage Rice Cottage Industry to gain the necessary strength and stamina to be able to adequately and effectively boost the Nation’s GDP and so I thought it was the best time to apply my experience in the rice business and explore the local rice industry. My business is almost 2years old now.
Q: What makes your business stand out from all other businesses within your niche industry?
A: It’s very affordable. Others sell theirs at one thousand, five hundred naira (N1500) only and I sell mine for as low as one thousand naira (1000) per kilogram. I recently when carrying out a market survey and I found out that a kilogram sells for as much as six thousand naira (N6000) depending on the area.
Q: When did you become a Tony Elumelu entrepreneur and how has it helped your business?
A: I became a TEF entrepreneur earlier this year. I applied for the Tony Elumelu Foundation for financial assistance to procure some of these machines; De-stoner machine, De-husking machine, Rice polisher and some other machines that help to ease human efforts and boost production and returns. I have been able to get some of these machines so the grant has really helped me in great measures.
Q: After training and mentorship from the TEF Entrepreneurship programme, how has your operational model changed?
A: It has helped me to be a good networker that I don’t have to work so hard to get result, I only have to work SMART and by SMART, I mean Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. I just need to know the customers who are ready to pay Immediately and zero my target on them instead of committing to all and then they disappoint and that’s being Specific. Talking about Measurable, it is the amount I can actualize on that venture no matter how small while incurring very little expenses so I can get back a good return. Believing I can do it and chanting my “Yes, I Can” Mantra makes it Attainable. I also became more Realistic and never got carried away with offers that could possibly run my business down and Timely; delivering promptly without giving excuses.
Q: How many steps ahead would you say the TEF seed funding helped you get to?
A: The seed funding took me 7 steps ahead. The rice business is a highly capital intensive one so I still need to keep going but honestly it has helped a lot and I feel privileged and honoured.
Q: How do you market your business and which methods have been most successful since completing the TEF training and mentorship programme?
A: I make use of social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Google and Facebook. I also use Associations like NASSI; National Association of Small-Scale Industries, RIFAN; Rice Farmer Association of Nigeria, SMEDAN etc. I’m also getting NAFDAC registration and registering my Trademarks. I also belong to a community/network of Famers all-round the country so I make sales through referrals from them as well. I am currently working on my website.
Q: What are some of the challenges you face as an entrepreneur in your operational environment?
A: Well, there’s the fact that I am still new although I belong to a market. Right now, I have a target of growing a large amount because some of Us small-scale Farmers have been picked to be suppliers to larger Ofada Rice Farmers and they will be exporting Ofada in very large quantities to some parts of the world because they already have a demand and a Market. So we are really just focused on farming.
Q: What are some of the solutions you might suggest to help solve these challenges?
A: We just need to keep selling and building a large network of customers. By promoting African products, I believe The Ofada Rice is a special commodity unique to the African Continent. The Asians don’t have it so, when we sell products unique to only Nigerians, we are promoting the African economy with African goods thus raising our GDP.
Q: As you know, the core of the TEF entrepreneurship programme is to promote Africapitalism, how has your business been able to make an impact in that light?
A: By promoting African products, I believe The Ofada Rice is a special commodity unique to the African Continent. The Asians don’t have it so, when we sell products unique to only Nigerians, we are promoting the African economy with African goods thus raising our GDP.
Q: If you had a chance to start your entrepreneurship journey all over again, what would you do differently?
A: Well, I really don’t know what I would want to do differently because applying for the Tony Elumelu Foundation Grant has been a blessing to me and a huge step for my business. So, I don’t think I regret the things I did and don’t feel I would want to do it any differently from how I have already done it. The challenges and waiting process itself is a journey.
Social media handles: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook: Aunty Kiks Ofada
~ Author: Derek Nwankwo