#DearNigerianGraduate: Sell food -differently.

During my college days at Unilorin, we bought bread and akara at the boys’ hostel’s buttery. The akara was second to useless. It was usually brought from town, and therefore was never fresh. Sometimes, it was already stale.

Then one day….

Olayioye Samuel and his friend, Jerry, both in their penultimate years, teamed up and started frying akara, yam and puff-puff. For the first time in forever, we had the luxury of sandwiching our bread with akara ‘as e dey hot’. These guys saw a problem, and offered a smart solution. Same akara. But delivered differently.

These two guys almost sent Alhaja, the tenant and manager of the hostel buttery, out of business. Her sales dropped significantly. When she couldn’t bear it any longer, she reported to the school authority. Samuel and Jerry were both forced to shut down their little business.

Samuel was later my roommate in his final year, and he told me they invested less than 5k in the business; buying just a small gas cylinder and a frying pan. Before the business was shut down, they had already made multiple of that amount in profit. After his graduation, the next time we met was at KPMG. He was my senior colleague.

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My friend, Olasupo Abideen, recently launched Soup4Me, an on-demand local soup delivery business in Ilorin. When he first discussed the idea with me, I must confess I didn’t see the feasibility, but I didn’t discourage him. Even if I did, this friend is one monster entrepreneur and he wouldn’t have listened.

Brothers and sisters in the Lord, when he told me how much they made in their first month and how much sales have grown monthly, I opened mouth and couldn’t close it.

It’s soup delivery. In ILORIN! But the difference really is: being different.

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Have you heard of Dundu Nation before? Well you guessed right. Dundu Nation sells dundu (fried yam), moin-moin etc, accompanied with orisirisi ponmo and fish, at busy locations. They started 7 months ago and sales has since grown by 475%. They started in Lagos with one outlet, now they have over 20 outlets. They are currently recruiting for their Ibadan outlets. Trust me na. I’m waiting for them with open arms when they come to Ilorin.

Shey you want to hear? The founder, Bayo Lion Adedeji, has an MBA from the University of Atlanta and he’s the Senior Finance Manager at Amazon. Yet he sells fried yam on the street. But he does it differently.

So what’s stopping you? Shame abi? With your BSc, how will you be frying puff-puff? With your 2,1 how will you be selling akara? How will you be selling ofada rice? My brother, my sister; what do you think education is for? Is it not for you to look at something and see a thousand ways it can be done better? Is it not for you to have a rock solid plan and financial analysis for your business? Have clear milestones and feasible timelines?

The woman selling dundu on your street, for example, wouldn’t think of branding, or business process, or scaling, or franchising, like Bayo would. Because she doesn’t have the education that Bayo does.

So my dear Nigerian graduate. Start a food business today. But let your schooling reflect in the business: DO IT DIFFERENTLY.