Across West Africa, many rely on breakfast made from maize, sorghum and millet popularly called Koko or Pap. But the worry is that it has a short life shelf. Some also complain of unhygienic methods of preparation.
A Nigerian entrepreneur has been adding value to the preparation of pap and having it sold in formal retail shops. Oluyemisi Obe established a food processing company called Prothrive Astute Heights in 2015 to produce high-quality pap with a longer shelf life.
Obe said she went into food processing following challenges she had getting varieties of cereals to feed her children when they were babies. According to her, she then saw it as an opportunity to produce a variety of breakfast meals for other mothers.
“I thought about food processing when my children were babies because each time I tried to introduce them to cereal, I would find just one variety. I realised there was an opportunity to produce something readily available to other mothers. That was how I came about the idea and the research started,” she told How we made it in Africa.
The business started daily operations by producing 50kg of its maiden product, Grandios Pap, which was sold from the boot of Obe’s car in churches, mosques and other public places. After securing regulatory approval, she marketed in supermarkets after establishing agreements with distributors and agents.
In addition, she also took advantage of social media to reach out to potential customers and according to her, it eventually paid off for her despite the cost of marketing for small businesses like hers.
“We increased the number of distributors and retailers by building our relationships. We also created an online presence through our website and social media platforms. The cost of offline marketing for small businesses is enormous, so, we had to learn how to use social media for our marketing and it has paid off,” she explained.
Seven years down the line, Obe now produces several tonnes to meet daily demand. She sells in major supermarkets in Nigeria, including Shoprite, Spar, Ebeano, Justrite and other retailers across the country.
The product is also on the shelves of supermarkets in the U.S. and UK known for selling made-in-Nigeria products.
Obe is already entertaining the idea of expanding into the West African market as part of her medium to long-term goals. Part of her expansion plan is to develop more varieties of the existing products and other traditional foods in smaller pouches for convenience, according to How we made it in Africa.
Ultimately, her dream is to be listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. “We are working on listing. I know there will come a time when I would want to retire but I want the company to continue.”