Ayodeji Mebope is a Nigerian who wanted to make a difference while doing what she loved doing, cooking. She runs a catering outfit (called) No Left Over Nigeria, with an initial capital of N1,000 by selling local bean cake recipe known as moin-moin.
She trained as a confidential secretary and worked in Corona Primary School for nine years thereafter. After resigning from Corona, she had the intention of starting a playgroup and not a catering outfit. To actualize this, she enrolled in a six-month Montessori programme. But at the end of the period, she lost interest in pursuing the ambition.
To get herself busy, she started cooking for her sister-in-law, who was an extremely busy career woman. One day, her sister-in-law visited her house and joined Ayodeji and her family as they were having moin-moin, as a meal. She enjoyed it so much that she insisted that moin-moin must be included in her menu in which Ayodeji charged N1,000 for. And from there, family members, friends and colleagues began to place orders.
Business realization and future plans…
In three months of selling to a few family and friends, her turnover was running into N30, 000 – N40, 000 and she decided to take the business more seriously and at that point(insert ,) realised that the best way to achieve success in business is to have a high turnover. The first question that came to her mind was where can she go to make her product available in the wider market? She went to the school she previously worked to hawk moin-moin for sale and that opened her up to larger market.
The Goldman Sachs experience and the impact of the Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management (CEM) program in her overall success.
Even with the income from the sales of moin moin at Corona, she could not really account for the sales, expenses and profit. She had no proper financial account and believed she needed to build her capacity. Coincidentally, she came across an advert on the newspaper saying that a United organization was coming into Nigeria to invest in women entrepreneurs with little or no business That was the Goldman Sachs 10,000 women program in collaboration with the Enterprise Development Centre of the Pan-African University. An essay was required from interested applicants about their businesses and growth potentials. Well, she participated in the essay and was shortlisted and awarded a scholarship. She simply wrote what she was doing – selling and hawking moin-moin in front of a school. The 5-months program opened her eyes to the fact that she needed to put her finances together, and properly structure her business to ensure her sales and expenditure are clearly spelt. Another aspect of the programme that really transformed her business was the customer service aspect; reason being that prior to the CEM Programme she was not sure of her business career. There, she also recognized her good communication skills.
After the program, her story took a different turn, just like a bird She was ready to fly – she became unstoppable. She was determined to run the business truly like a business. She opened a bank account for the company and started setting up business structures. The company had moved from one single product company (Moin-Moin) to a full catering outfit, where catering for 1,000 people was no longer a big deal but she jealously guarded the humble SEED – Moin-Moin, which has now become Moin-Moin Department in her new outlet. The contribution from this department in one week was enough to pay all the staff monthly salary. In less than one year of being a Goldman Sachs scholar, she had saved enough money to buy her own delivery vehicle, giving her more control on service delivery. She moved her business from her “Home” to “Office” thus enabling her to take on multiple jobs.
Business transformation and expansion plan…
She had staffing issues at the initial stage of growth but the HR module (people make it happen) she attended during the CEM program sorted her out. She set up a proper staff structure and started to delegate duties. But as she grew, she found out that as long as the business is tied around the owner, the business cannot grow. Trust, delegation and empowering people are required in growing and meeting targets. She started handling multiple chores at the same time and so the business exploded with higher capital.
‘A humble beginning of N1,000 to a turnover of 50 million naira a year within a short period’. What is the message for young female entrepreneurs out there thinking of starting their own businesses?
The most important message she has is never to be afraid to start small and never to be afraid to start with any amount. Well, she admitted that the journey was not smooth all the way. The zeal to acquire so much set in at a point and this really set her back at a time. She will like to encourage the young entrepreneurs to have a good business plan because it helps with proper planning and projection. Also, she advised that the financial records must be properly kept. In her words “That would help the business to know when to make the next move, when to expand and how to expand”.
The Moin-moin maker has been invited to New York to address the Annual General Meeting of Goldman Sachs with satellite links to other viewing centres of the bank around the world. Addressing the worlds’ most powerful investment bank. She was also invited by President Bill Clinton to his annual Clinton Global Initiative. In 2011, Ayodeji Megbope was on a panel at the Turkish Prime Minister’s Global Summit on Entrepreneurship through the invitation of the Turkish Government in Istanbul, Turkey and the panel featured other entrepreneurs from different parts of the world. To crown it up, she delivers motivational speeches on her success story at events across the nation.