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Be Inspired: Read Ayo Megbope’s story of how she turned a N1000 MoiMoi into a multimillionaire business (No Left Overs)

I was opportune to listen to Mrs Ayodeji Oluyemisi Megbope on the 21st November 2013 at TREM Headquarters, Lagos, Nigeria, where she told a tear jerking and inspirational story of how she started her ‘Left over’ business in Lagos in 2007….now she travels all over the world to inspire others.

The first time she traveled out was when she was invited to New York to address the Annual General Meeting of Goldman Sachs.

“See me oh, common moin-moin maker in God’s own Country, It was God’s doing. Nothing is impossible before the Almighty.
I give HIM the Glory” she said during her speech back then.



You can watch the video (HERE), it is worth your time.

Today, while scrolling through instagram, I found out that she has now opened a branch in Abuja and I was so happy…and decided to share her story of how she started her business in 2007 with just N1,000 with you all.

No kidding; Mrs. Ayodeji Megbope still remembers vividly some of the major items she spent the N1,000 capital on:

2 tins of beans at N60 per tin -N120; A bottle of groundnut oil –
N100; Eggs – N100; Leaves – N150; Pepper, Onions,etc – N130; Fish –
N100; Seasoning – N100; Crayfish – N80; Grinding – N50 and other
incidentals.

In three days, she was able to generate a turnover of N5,000. This quickly rose to N20,000 in two weeks.
She remembers these numbers because according to her, “This was a very
low period in my life, financially, when every kobo counted. And I truly
counted every kobo – if you know what I mean,” She giggled.

UNLIKELY BEGINNING
Ayodeji Megbope, who had trained as a confidential secretary, and worked in Corona Primary School for about nine years, never intended to set up a catering outfit. She left Corona with the intention to start a Playgroup.

To actualize this, she enrolled in a six-month Montessori programme. But at the end of the period, she felt no excitement for Playgroup anymore.

‘For some inexplicable reason, I didn’t feel the excitement for it. I
needed to do something really exciting, and Montessori didn’t feel like
it.”

To get herself busy, she started cooking for her sister-in-law,
who was an extremely busy career woman. “I would make all kinds of meal
for her – soups, stew, etc. Then one day she visited us and joined us
as we were having moin-moin, as a meal. My husband had given me the lat N1000 in the house to prepare dinner that evening and so i used it to prepare moi moi for the house and that’s what my sister-in-law met us eating.  Immediately, she insisted that I
must include moin-moin in her menu. And from there, her friends and colleagues began to place orders.”

Here the story gets interesting. According to Mrs. Megbope, her
intial buyers were family members, close relatives, and their friends,
colleagues, etc. Business was by way of referral and word of mouth.

Then it occurred to her to go back to Corona School. “I would show up in my rickety Peugeot car, with wraps of moin-moin in a cooler. I would stand at the school gate,
and begin to call each parent by their first name or their children’s
names, and attempt to sell them moin-moin. They were used to seeing me
in skirt or trouser suits, but were now seeing me in Ankara outfits. It was an humbling experience. They were like, sebi we told you not to leave Corona but you did, see what you are selling now, Moi moi, this is bad….but i sold still”

Ayo, hubby and their two kids

But no sooner had people started patronizing
her moin-moin, than they also began to request that she makes other
delicacies, such as varieties of soups, stews, meals, etc, especially
the very traditional ones.

How Did She Learn These Traditional Recipes?
Simple, the sellers of the ingredients for making the meal. She says
she would go to the market with a pen and notebook and ask the sellers
of the ingredients to teach her how to make the delicacy. Then she would
prepare a little portion of it, return to the same sellers who would
taste it and award her marks. “Not until I receive a thumb-up for my
effort would I fill the customer’s order. It worked like magic,” she beamed.

No Left Overs Nigeria Ltd. has now grown from $1,000 a month in sales
to more than $16,000 a month and now focuses on high net worth clients.
Ayo has applied the following lessons in order to properly manage her
catering company’s rapid growth:

Believe in Yourself
Whether she is catering for as much as 2,000 people,
trainng employees to take on more responsibility or negotiating prices
at the marketplace, none of it would have been possible without
self-belief. “The [10,000 Women]] program has made me daring”, I used to
be very timid and unsure of myself, but now I see the great potentials
in me not just to succeed, but also to lift up those who feel there is
no good in them.
Since the
success of her catering business, I am regularly asked for advice by
women in my community on how they too can achieve business success. ”
The first thing I tell them is, ‘Everything you need to succeed is in
you.’ In addition, having the support and encouragement from family and
friends has also helped me gain the confidence to meet unexpected
challenges.
Manage Your Money
During my company’s first year in business, making money
wasn’t the major problem. Instead, I struggled with managing the money.
“The money I made went into my purse, and from there I would spend it. I
kept no record of sales, expenses or profits. The first thing I learnt
from the program was the importance of having a bank account for the
business. Now I’m able to manage cashflow better, and make projections
of how much is necessary to sustain growth, and invest in supplies and
equipment.
Cash management can make or break a company, says Peter Bamkole, director of Enterprise Development Services at the Pan-African University of Nigeria. It’s not just a matter of having money – – it’s about having enough money at the right time.
Focus on Service
When a company grows too fast, the focus can easily
shift from providing excellent customer service to trying to manage
growth. As a result, customers suffer. When orders began to flow in, I
recall being so excited that I didn’t want to turn anything down. We
ended up compromising quality because our hands were too full and we
couldn’t afford to hire more staff. That was a really terrible
experience, I lost a few clients before realizing i couldn’t do it all.
Thanks to the
program, however, I learned to identify our market and focus on the jobs
that are more in line with the company’s capabilities. “Having learned
at the 10,000 Women program that challenges should spur us on, we have
had to learn from our mistakes and we are coming out better and
stronger”.
Make Wise Investment
It wasn’t long before I realized that money I spent
renting utensils and transportation could be better invested in
purchasing my own equipment. As a result, I saved my profits to purchase
utensils, a delivery vehicle and also moved the company’s operations
from my home to a bigger facility.
We are now able
to take up more and larger orders, employ more staff and also get our
jobs done fast with prompt delivery; which is key to our success.
“Investing wisely in things that will help businesses operate faster,
better, and cheaper is an important part of what participants in the
program were taught. Business owners are also reminded that as assets
increase, so do overhead expenses.
Empower Your Staff
When it comes to a company’s most important asset, any
successful business owner will agree that employees top the list.
Creating a strong culture, developing other leaders and training
employees for new roles are crucial to managing growth. A good leader
doesn’t try to do everything themselves, they listen to everyone’s
ideas.
Recently, I
began training two employees who seemed ready for more responsibilities,
although it was “heartbreaking” when one quit, we have remained
committed to training and mentoring staff. By letting go, we have
experiences some disappointments here and there, but the advantages of
delegating far outweigh any negatives that might occur.
Build a Network
It’s only natural for an entrepreneur to
gain knowledge and instincts as their business experience growth, but
even veteran business owners can benefit from the perspectives of
others. It is inspiring to hear others share their business success and
failures, especially those who have been in business for so long.
It has been
helpful to incorporate their advice into my business since completing
the program. I still meets regularly with my co-scholars. For example,
it was a co-scholar who gave me my start in catering corporate
luncheons.
I also learned
the value in networking with my competition. As a result they refer jobs
to me when things get too busy and vice versa.
Have a Plan
The faster a business grows, the more
diffcult it can be to plan future expenditures or income, that’s why the
10,000 Women program teaches students to rigorously think through their
business concept and develop a roadmap with specific milestones.
Without my
business plan, I would be going around in circles. It’s like a guide to
me. It helps me focus and plan properly and as a result, growth is
almost assured. As I look towards my company’s future, there are things
that I hope to soon implement. We are looking forward to getting bigger
and having our business name more visible so it screams, “COME AND
PATRONISE US!”
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