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Graemoh Foods at 5!

Today marks the 5th year of me being the founder and CEO of Graemoh Foods. It was just like yesterday when I was at the Corporate Affairs Commission's office trying to put together a name for a business I didn't know would change my life forever! I've always been involved in business for as long as I can remember but this is the first time that I've been committed to any for this long and what an experience it has been! It's been 5 years of trying to navigate the turbulent waters of entrepreneurship especially in Nigeria with pretty much no compass or GPS to guide me. The truth is, nothing really prepares you for running your own business. No amount of reading, podcast, seminar, training can accurately predict what you will face when you start running your own business. I'm not against any of the aforementioned especially as I am a beneficiary of them but from my experience, things are very different when the rubber hits the road! 

One thing entrepreneurship does is to constantly challenge you and push you to the limit. You set out to solve a problem and then another problem crops up while trying to solve the first problem. In an attempt to solve the second problem, a third problem shows up and before you know it, you're neck deep trying to solve a fifth problem that you never knew existed despite all your extensive research. Simply putting it, "how do you solve a problem that you didn't know existed and only discovered while trying to solve a problem that you knew existed and initially set out to solve?" That in a nutshell is what entrepreneurship is- solving problems. However, this is much more difficult than it sounds especially when you add other variables such as the human factor, covid-19, government polices and others. There were times when it felt the whole world was against me and things would never work out. There were some nights that I sincerely hoped that morning won't come so I won't have to deal with challenges of the coming day. There were days when I had to make several critical decisons over a short period of time with very little information as to the full effect of those decisions. There were times when some people made degrading comments about my vision and plans, the kind of comment that would completely knock every fibre of confidence in you.

 

But somehow I survived and it hasn't been all bad news to be honest. These five years have given me the opportunity to discover myself more. My strengths, my weaknesses and everything in between. This has made me more confident in my abilities and how to partner with those who are more capable than me in other areas. Also, this journey has given me the opportunity to meet some very amazing people who have been very helpful and kind. This journey has shown me that there are a lot of honest and hardworking people who genuinely want you to succeed. I honestly wish that I could list everyone one of them out but I'll probably save that for my book lol. These five years have given me to opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of people and the society at large and it is a gift that I am very grateful for and won't want to trade it for anything else.

Graemoh has come definitely come a long way as a company. There was a time in our history when we outsourced all our processing due to lack of equipment, but that isn't the case today. We currently meet all our processing needs and have become a processor for other companies. We have over the years invested heavily in research and development and this has led production of bespoke equipment that have greatly increased the quality and quantity of our products. One of such is our two-stage honey filtering and dispensing machine that reduces honey filtering time by over 80% and doesn't make use of electricity! Smoked catfish was our only product when we started out in 2016 but today, we've expanded our product line to include honey, spiced pepper powder (barbecue, crayfish & garlic flavours) and brown rice. Due to our vast experience in the agriculture space, we've begun offering consultancy services to individuals and organizations on how to best optimize their businesses for performance.

Our efforts to improve agriculture in Nigeria has not gone unnoticed. In 2016, I was accepted into the Young Africans Leadership Initiative, a program started by the then president of the United States of America, Barack Obama to develop young African Leaders. In 2017, I was a recipient of the Tony Elumelu Foundation grant of $5,000. In 2018 we were accepted into the prestigious incubation program of the Ministry of Science and Technology under the National Board for Technology Incubation. This program is for organisations that have been identified as having the capacity to greatly improve their industry. In 2019, I was among the 10 finalists selected in the country for the ScaleUp program by FATE Foundation. There are so many other programs that we have been part of that putting them here would probably bore you. However, I would like to thank each and every one of those organisations who have found us worthy to offer us their support whether in cash or in kind.

"To whom much is given, much is expected." As we have been the benefited so much from others, it is only right that we give back to others. In this light, we established the Graemoh Foundation to assist with our corporate social responsibilities. Through the foundation, we  organized the Kaduna Entrepreneurship Summit in 2018 where we brought in experienced entrepreneurs to educate and encourage young entrepreneurs. We also had a business pitch competition where entrepreneurs were given the opportunity to pitch their ideas in front of a panel of judges and the best ideas were rewarded. We have also organised free grant writing sessions to teach startups how to access funds for their businesses as well as improve their business process. We have partnered with local farmers for free on how to effectively commercialize their farms to increase yield and profit.

Looking back on the journey so far, we have definitely come a long way, but this is still far from where we want to be. However, we're still very grateful for how far we've come and the impact we've been able to make. At this point, I would like to thank God Almighty for everything that Graemoh Foods is and has achieved. "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." To our staff who have worked tirelessly to keep the products moving, I thank and appreciate you and pray for more success. I would also like to thank my friends and family for their constant support and encouragement even when half of the time they didn't fully understand my "crazy" ideas lol. A very big thank you once again to every organisation that has found us worthy and supported us on this journey. Finally, a very big thank you to everyone who has purchased our product at any given time. Your patronage has helped us become the company we are today.

Happy 5th anniversary to Graemoh Foods and here's to a thousand more years!!!

Simply putting it, how do you solve a problem that you didn't know existed and only discovered while trying to solve a problem that you knew existed and initially set out to solve?

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