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Sunday, 26 October 2014

Ehime Eigbe MD Sweet Kiwi Frozen Yoghurts - " Look at Your Environment and Strive To Create Value"

Ehime Eigbe owns the Sweet Kiwi brand, a pioneer frozen yoghurt shop that makes and sells fat-free creamy delights. This young female entrepreneur who left a career in Busi­ness Information Technology and International Relations to start up her own business, speaks about her journey and business lessons learnt along the way. Read excerpts from her interview with The Sun below:

What is the story behind starting out in entrepreneurship?
When I was working in corporate circles, I came across the concept of frozen yoghurt and I thought it would be a good addition to Nigeria. When I visited Nigeria, I thought it would be a good idea to come here, open and then introduce the concept to Nigerians. So, I went back to Amer­ica and learnt how to make yoghurt. Then I came down to Nigeria to put all that knowledge to work.

Tell us the most memorable start-up challenge you had and how did you handle it.
Finding a space to start up my brand was the most difficult thing I had to grapple with. The pricing of some spaces for business venture does not allow small businesses to grow. There is no fair market value for houses. And this makes the landlords to be dictating the market prices of houses, which is not very proper. In every country that I have been to, they have a fair pricing system for a property. But here, it is unregulated which makes it very difficult for small business owners.

That was the biggest start-up challenge that almost killed my dream, because at a time I almost gave up setting up here in Nigeria. When I needed to start up, I couldn't get a space. I had to resort to setting up small shops in other peoples' spaces which wasn't selling the idea we wanted to present to people. And for three years (we started up in 2011), we were patching up until early this year, 2014. It is very difficult to get a suitable place to start up and when I finally got one and made the payment, two days later the land-lord called, saying I should come and take up my cheque because another person has offered to pay much more than I have already paid. At a point, I was put off and was done searching for a space.

I started making arrangements to return to the US, where I would start up my business in peace. But my mother was there striving until she nosed out another good area where I finally started up, and finally realised the dream I had. And I would say there is a lesson in not giving up, because if I had given up at that time, this would not have become what it is today.

What are some other business lessons have you learnt over the years?
Aside dedication, I have also learnt perseverance and how to do things properly, in the sense that if you make just N100, you should be sure that that N100 is accounted for, it is necessary to have accountability in business. Again, separate yourself from the business. Learn to withstand pressure because trial times would definitely come but what keeps you afloat in business is the strong foundation that you have laid for it

What would be your ad­vice to the young and un­employment?
Step up and take action on your life. You should look at your environment and strive to create value. That was what spurred me into creating my venture. I didn't sit complaining that we don’t have frozen yoghurt outlets in the country; rather I took the challenge to initiate the concept here. Going into business shouldn't be motivated by the desire to make money rather by building and empowering your society.

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