Ejiro is the CEO and founder of Nicnax Enterprises in Nigeria. In 2020, she took part in our Road to Growth programme, which gave her the knowledge she needed to better handle her cashflow and improve her production plan, as well as the confidence to succeed…
“My name is Ejiro Jakpa. I am the CEO and founder of Nicnax Enterprises. In the last few months, we’ve upgraded from an enterprise to a company. What we do at Nicnax is we manufacture healthy foods and snacks which are affordable, readily available and very healthy for the health-conscious customer. 5 years ago, we birthed our first granola, and now we are the largest indigenous producer of granola in Nigeria.
One of the ways in which our business has impacted communities is due to the fact that about 50% of our sourcing is from female-owned businesses. For example, our coconut comes from one of the largest producers of coconut here in Nigeria, which happens to be run by a female. Our honey is also from a female-owned business, and by getting our materials from people like this, we empower them, and they also empower other women around them. We also source our groundnuts from a little village in Niger state, thereby empowering the locals directly.
One of the major challenges of being an entrepreneur generally in Nigeria is electricity. About 30-40% of our processes rely on electricity. Another major challenge is the steady decline of the Nigerian economy. Another challenge is finding local manufacturers, there are various machines needs that will move my business forward, but our engineers don’t have the access to this technology.
Over 60% of women in Sub-Saharan Africa actually work in agriculture, but the majority of these women don’t have access to land, except through a male relative. So it is very important for the world to support these socially-conscious women by providing access to farmlands and knowledge. As it is commonly said, you support a woman, you support a nation; that, I believe, is the key to sustaining the wealth of a nation.
I heard about the Road to Growth programme through a friend on WhatsApp. The opportunity to learn things I didn’t understand before and the thought of having a mentor who is within my own space and has grown organically was what made me apply. I really did enjoy the programme. It was very interactive and one of the best classes for me was the class on personality traits. It was great meeting fellow businesswomen and even greater meeting women whose businesses complimented my own. There are 3 women from my class with whom we still have working business relationships to this day.
Innovation is one of our core values here at Nicnax. The Road to Growth programme made me realise that innovation got us to where we are and it helped me see myself in the light that the principles behind Road to Growth saw me. I have definitely applied what I learnt from the programme in my business, for example in the areas of finance, I know how to handle our cashflow better. We’ve also increased our staff strength because we now have a better production plan thanks to the lessons learnt from the programme.
Having a successful business doesn’t just mean being able to employ people, but more importantly, it means being able to empower people by teaching them how to ‘fish’; they in turn go and teach people how to ‘fish’ and this becomes a ripple effect.
The successful impact of my business is that I am able to give people hope. I started this business with 10,000 Naira, which was equivalent to $50 back then. You don’t need a million dollars to start up your business.
Participating in the Road to Growth programme has made me realise the importance of women supporting women. I would encourage all women to join the programme, kindly put together by the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. It is free and taught by experts in the field with knowledge you would pay hundreds of thousands for ordinarily.
I think that government agencies and corporate bodies need to place women in the forefront during this pandemic in order to rebuild their nations. A woman is a builder; give her a house, she turns it into a home, give the woman the money and knowledge she requires to start a business, she will build wealth not just for herself but for the people around her.
My future vision for myself as an entrepreneur is building a pan-African brand from Nigeria of global repute that stands the test of time.”
Road to Growth is highly scalable and adaptable. The Foundation is actively seeking funding partnerships to enable the programme to launch in, but not limited, to Rwanda, South Africa, Ethiopia, Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania and Mozambique, with each iteration carefully adapted for a local context. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss potential partnerships!