The Learning Process
Growing up, Ebere Onyinyechi Ogbonna watched her mother invest her time and resources into the grain storage business and succeed. Given her early introduction to the business, it is no surprise that she decided to forge a path for herself in the same industry.
In her own time, she took things a step further by storing other indigenous food products like Ofada rice, beans, palm oil, maize and wheat. Additionally, she also began to process some of these food products into flour which she brands and packages for sale to both local and international markets.
Years after she obtained her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Ilorin in 2004, she finally created Grains Plus Ventures in 2012 and registered it as a business enterprise in 2013.
Although the company didn’t officially commence business operations until January 2017, in 2012, Ogbonna was selected as a Goldman Sachs 10K Women Scholar and was opportune to gain business knowledge from Enterprise Development Centre (EDC), an arm of the prestigious Lagos Business School (LBS). In 2017, she was selected as a Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur, and in 2018, she was selected for further business and management training by the African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative (AWEC) Programme.
Grains Plus Ventures and the Growth of Reynox
Grains Plus Ventures’ vision is to be an unparalleled leader in food production in Nigeria and Africa at large by fulfilling the highest standards for quality, consistency, sustainability, dependability, product assortments, value-added support services and integrity in our business and personal relationships.
They achieve this via their registered brand called Reynox which has a range of products that include Reynox Beans Flour, Reynox Plantain flour, Reynox Yam Flour, Reynox Cocoyam Soup Thickener, Reynox Ofada Rice and Reynox Honey Beans.
Although Ogbonna has just four full-time staff members, she is working hard at increasing her workforce as the business grows. Located in Lagos, Nigeria, Grain Plus Ventures also offer contract manufacturing opportunities to women in their community to mill different food products into flour at discounted rates using their processing facility which meets Food Safety Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The proceeds they make from selling these flour products help them cater to their family and social needs.
As a business owner, Ogbonna has a passion for creating employment opportunity to the teeming youth in our business community and is constantly looking for ways to impact her immediate community.
Strengths and Challenges
Ogbonna attributes her success so far partly to her inquisitive nature and strong will. She also takes her time to conduct extensive research on her industry and competition, constantly working to improve her techniques.
Customer feedback is also crucial especially in her line of work and she takes it very seriously. Lastly, self-improvement is a lifestyle for her and she achieves this through training, seminars and workshops which learnings I apply to the running of my business.
One major challenge she faced at the beginning of her entrepreneurial journey was losing over 80% of my business capital due to the civil unrest in the northern part of Nigeria where she stored beans.
This experience didn’t discourage her from continuing her business, instead, it became one of the driving forces that inspired Ogbonna to start processing raw foods into flour.
The Tony Elumelu Foundation Programme
Ogbonna considers her acceptance into the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme in 2017 to be one of the highlights of her life as a businesswoman.
She praised the Foundation for all the support that she has received adding that the 12-week online training helped equip her with the knowledge she needed to transform her business into what it is today.
Conclusively, she mentioned that the seed capital she received from the Foundation and the relationships she has built with other entrepreneurs across the continent has helped her position Grains Plus Ventures for growth and further expansion.
Even in the short time that Grains Plus Ventures has been operational, Ogbonna has already garnered some attention. In May 2018, Ebere was invited to the African Foods and Products Exhibition and Conference organised by Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce (NACC) as a Panellist for one of the SME sessions.
For future expansion, Ogbonna is currently in talks with retail and online stores for potential partnerships. This collaboration is geared towards increasing the number of distribution channels available to her business and improving their processing capacity.
Furthermore, Grains Plus Ventures plans to become a major distributor of dry plantain in Nigeria, specifically for the production of plantain flour. To achieve this, they are currently working on constructing a plantain production plant at a farm in Edo State.
To contact Ebere Onyinyechi Ogbonna or Grains Plus Ventures, view the details below:
Office Address: Grains Plus Ventures, Technology Incubation Centre, 1 Oba Ogunji Road, Agege, Lagos.
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