This Tony Elumelu entrepreneur has walked through hell and high-water. From being unemployed to being a janitor earning N10,000, to owning of a mobile kitchen and now an employer of 36 staff. Meet the TEF Entrepreneur who catered to over 1,000 people at the TEF Forum 2016
TEF: How did you get your idea or concept for the business? What was your mission from the outset?
Titus: Speed Meals didn’t start as a business. It was a means of survival as we couldn’t get a job. We got a job as janitors with our salary at N10,000. Right after this, our dad had an accident and passed away. Imagine being the first child with 8 siblings. This equalled major responsibility and one at such an early stage for my twin and I. We knew we had to take care of our family. So we started baking cakes. Our selling point was that the client gets to taste their wedding cake before their wedding. As office cleaners, we were often sent out to get food. We see how unhygienic these meals are prepared. We wanted to change this. So we saw this as an opportunity to start ours. We decided to bridge the gap.
TEF: How many employees do you have?
Titus: We now have 36 employees. Before the TEF entrepreneurship Programme, we had 7part time staff but right now, we have 2 offices and 36 full time staff.
TEF: You managed the catering on Day 0 and the evening of Day 1 at the TEF Forum. How was this experience for you?
Titus: We wrote to the Foundation to let us cater to this year’s Forum. We were referred to another agency. In order to get the ball rolling the agency requested for so many documents. Luckily for us, we had learnt a lot from the Mentor Learning Platform on the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme. So, we had all our documents ready. Seeing the 2016 entrepreneurs was nostalgic for us. I could see myself in them. Just as I was in 2015. We put in 100% effort as a way to appreciate the Foundation for how much they’ve invested in us. We also sought to prove a point as we were the youngest amongst those shortlisted.
TEF: What are your company’s goals?
Titus: We got more jobs from the forum. Matter of fact, we are booked for the rest of the year for large scale events! We also want to launch our signature recipes/spices soon. We want to ensure they are exported. The world has to taste Nigeria. We recently launched our 4 month training academy in October. Our students are offered 1 month internship at top hotels/restaurants.
TEF: How does your company help the community where it is located?
Titus: We learnt from TEF through the TOE Way to give back. I’ve read the TOE Way 5 different times. I learnt that you’ve been raised to raise others. So we decided to set up the YEAST project in March, an acronym for Youth Employment Acceleration Strategy where we organise job fairs. We also ensure Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs know about these job fairs so they can employ from the pool of professionals at these fairs.
TEF: What benefits did you gain from the TEF Forum in 2015
Titus: First of all, I learnt as an entrepreneur, you have to learn how to sell to your customer. You need to offer value. Secondly, money is hardly the problem. You need an idea! Before we got on the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, we had absolutely no money only an idea and now, we have the money and are constantly building on our idea, seeking ways to diversify. The networking on TEF has also been amazing. The shoes I wear now is from a Tony Elumelu entrepreneur, my website is being built by a Tony Elumelu entrepreneur. The entrepreneurs are so helpful. Before now, I felt like I was operating in isolation but now, I have a community of entrepreneurs that are willing to help out whenever I need help. It’s an amazing ecosystem