By Julie Ibok
Onward-Anwuri Leah is a legal practitioner. She is also a food processing and packaging entrepreneur. She's the CEO of INGIBO FOODS and she's happily married with children.
INGIBO FOODS is a business enterprise that sells sea foods, destoned Acha grains and processes grains to flour.
She started her business in the year 2020, when she noticed the need to begin healthy eating.
In this interview, she tells us about her experience as a food processing entrepreneur as well an advice for women contemplating going the path of entrepreneurship.
Why did you choose the food processing industry?
In 2015, it was discovered that I had pregnancy-induced diabetes and it cost me a 7-month old pregnancy. So, the journey to eating healthily started as I became tired of insulin injections, daily drugs, and regular hospital visits.
In one of my google searches for what to eat, I came across Acha which is also known as fonio and read reviews that piqued my interest in healthy foods.
Seeing the good result I got after eating Acha as a substitute for garri (Nigerian staple food), I was counseled to stop drugs and to continue eating healthily. I also found out that the food can not be boring, as it can be used for more than one kind of meal. It can be used for pudding, swallow, cooked like jellof, baked into bread, pancakes and confectioneries. Surprisingly, nursing moms and babies can take it as pap too.
Acha is very rich in iron, amino acids, fibre, vitamins, minerals and protein. It's also gluten free, good for diabetics, cholesterol, cardiovascular functions, and for weight loss.
Have you encountered any challenges since you started?
Yes, I have encountered difficulties. Especially, sourcing raw materials to get appropriate milling machines and funding.
How do you get people to purchase the product?
We get clients via on-line marketing, social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp), and via referrals from her customers.
How do you handle customers when there is a surplus demand?
We manufacture in large quantities to ensure that our products never runs out of stock. We have a team. So we assign tasks to each employee and they work as a group to meet customers orders.
How many employees do you have, and what do you look out for in your employees?
For now, we have 5 employees. We look out for the following qualities: the employee needs to be clean, respectful, diligent, punctual and approachable.
What measures do you take to make your product stand out?
Attending seminars, conferences, and exhibitions, as well as conducting internet research. Also, making sure that these products are disbursed inside and outside Rivers State, via logistics. Eventually, we make certain that our products are very affordable.
Where do you see your business headed in the next three years?
We are projecting a very fast growth and working towards our products being found in every Nigerian home. Also, we look forward to exporting our products to different countries.
What do you have to tell women out there that desire to start their own businesses?
Consistency is the key! Start small and think big. Be patient and embrace integrity. Also, acknowledge that God will make it happen.
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