Chips:Quenching Hunger, Providing Jobs
Profit Margin Is Encouraging
HAVE you been engaged with work that you could not observe your lunch break? Or have you been in traffic and famished? If you have found yourself in either situation, then you will appreciate some people for packaging snacks to whet your appetite. This household business has not only provided jobs and money for the producers; it has also enabled them to engage people around them.
According to Bolaji, plantain chips and chi-chin have taken her family far above what they expected. “When we began, we thought we would run out of clients, but to our surprise our clientele has grown from the small family members and friends to over 500 clients, including departmental stores.
“I make close to N150, 000 a week after paying auxiliary hands and removing overhead costs, including electric bills. The business needs little or no advertisement; it sells itself. For as long as one is able to make them available, customers will surely come for them.
“All one needs to do is to make the chips crunchy and crispy. Also, you could choose to have varieties like adding garlic and ginger spices. And if one is able to do this and customers identify with them, doors would open for you. Most people love plantain chips and eat it as appetizers,” he revealed.
Disclosing that the business has a quick turnover, Ben said the profit margin is amazingly great. According to him the business gives immediate cash and operators can never be broke.
“I make 300 to 400 per cent profit on each production and if summed up, it means every month I make between N150,000 to N200,000. The business pays my bills and has given me financial freedom. I sometime make close to N45, 000 on a bunch of plantain I bought between N7, 000 and N10, 000. Though ripe-plantains are sweeter, most clients prefer the unripe ones for health reasons.
“I also make good money preparing chin-chin, but the gains on plantain chips are higher, comparing to the labour put into preparing both, ” he noted.
On how a new entrant could start production of chips, Ndukwe, who has been in the business for over 10 years disclosed that not much is needed to start the business. According to him, the chin-chin and plantain chips business is so flexible that a new entrant might not even need to rent a shop to start it.
I started producing chips from my one room apartment at Iyana Ipaja. I did this for two years before I rented a shop as a result of the expansion of the business. I always want to be on top of the game, so I began to package varieties of products, such as, ginger or garlic spiced chips, salted-chips, ripe and unripe plantain chips. They are all doing well in the market and for different people too.
To attract more customers, I introduced the smaller packages that go for N10 and N20. There are others within the range of N50, N100, N200 and N500. I neatly packaged them in bottles, plastic containers and nylons. With this I was able to reach out to even primary school pupils. The packaging also gave me a plus in the market.
“With N50, 000 to N60,000 anyone can start the business, especially as no sophisticated machines are needed. Only it needs hard work and patience to start yielding big. All you need is a big frying pan, gas stove, forks, plastic basins and others. These items are in the market and one can as well ask the wielder to design them if the ones in the market are not to your taste,” he said.
Revealing some of the business secrets, Aina, said, apart from hard work, one needs to get his/her plantain at the produce market, where they are cheaper.
“I get my supplies at Mile 12 Market and sometimes travel to Delta and Edo States, as well as other markets, where plantains could be got in large quantities. I make sure they are not ripe so that they could last long in the store. Getting my stock this way increases profit and enables me to be in the market when plantains and potatoes are not in season.
“ Apart from the great gain margins, we spend great time peeling, cutting to sizes, frying and packaging; it’s a whole lot of task. I produce every three days; because I do not add preservatives; so, 1 make sure I finished all I have packaged before producing another set. This is not the case with chin-chin because it is flour-based. All that is required is mix the ingredients overnight and then cut into bits in the morning and fry. Though, frying is another task, the gain is worth the pains,” he said.
Disclosing his experiences, Frances Akpan of Franks Chips noted that to make it big within a short period one has to put in good money and also include other varieties of chips like potatoes. According to him, people buy chips just the way they buy water sachets.
Most people eat it as an appetizer, something that would hold them until when they are ready for real meal. I sometimes sell up to 25 bags in a day. Each bag contains 50 wraps, which means 1250 wraps a day. The market is huge and producers are not enough.
“I have three boys that sell in the traffic on commission basis and another three that fry and package them in small wraps. I pay them N2,000 per day each time I am to produce and after that disengage them till another production day. The sellers take them to schools, tertiary institutions, and motor parks; in fact, anywhere we sense there would be a large crowd. Apart from being in charge of production, one needs to have his/her target audience. Sales from departmental stores are usually slow and the money does not come immediately, but sales from the street come faster and are more encouraging. In fact, the street sales provide the capital to run the business,” he said.
Throwing light on how he has been able to break even in the business, Akpan advises new entrant never to lose hope, especially it rewards did not come as expected.
He, however, asked them to be determined and be on top of their game.
“Be on top of your game. I make sure my products are not salty or sugary. Maybe for health reasons, ladies prefer the baked chin-chin to the fried and it is really making good sales. On a monthly basis, I make between N150, 000 and N200,000.
“If you are creative, being able to give buyers what they want, the business would surely pay your bills. I started by selling for others, but today people are selling for me. Learn to start small and gradually increase your capital. Be focused and do have varieties, with this you can never regret coming into the business,” he said.