Metrowoman entrepreneur of the week: Ejiro Jakpa
Ejiro Jakpa, fondly called Ejay, is a seasoned entrepreneur with investments in real estate, ready-to-wear fashion and agriculture. However, she is most known for her range of locally produced breakfast cereal, NicnaxGranola, which is the first NAFDAC-approved locally produced granola in Nigeria.
In 2015, while on a weight loss journey, Ejiro was unable to find granola which was affordable or had traceable ingredients. So she decided to create her own. And so NicNaxGranola was born – in her kitchen with just N10,000.
She currently stocks her product in over 60 retailers across Nigeria and has aggressive distribution plans for the rest of the country.
Based on her own experience, Ejiro passionately encourages budding entrepreneurs through mentoring sessions to look beyond the obvious challenges (most notably, capital), and to draw on their inner reserves of passion, creativity and faith to navigate the boisterous waters of small business. She encourages them to develop a culture of consistently adding value, which ultimately leads them to profit.
Ejiro has a first degree from London Southbank University and bagged a double Master’s Degree in Innovative Manufacturing & Management Information Systems from the prestigious Cranfield University School of Management where she was awarded a scholarship for exemplary performance.
She is currently one of 200 women selected across Africa to participate in IBM’s pioneer African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative (AWEC) programme.
What problem does your company solve?
In the face of growing weight and health concern, the availability of homegrown
healthy breakfast and snack options is very minimal in the Nigerian market. Our solution considers a healthy option that cuts across all demographics.
What ignited the spark in you to start your business venture?
I have always wanted to build a successful business that will change lives directly and indirectly. NicnaxGranola wasn’t a planned business but I was quick to find an opportunity in it and when I realised the impact it would have on people’s lives, the spark bloomed into a flame.
The idea came about when I was trying to shed some weight. After searching for reasonably priced sugar-free granola, I ended up making my own granola. I gave out leftovers and with positive feedback and encouragement from my friends and family, I sold a few packs, attended a few fairs and like the saying goes “the rest is history!”
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Networking: Every entrepreneur needs to learn the importance of networking. The right connection can open the door to meeting the right resources from potential employees to mentors, vendors and even investors!
Think big: When I decided to go fully into granola production, I didn’t see it as an end in itself, a cereal. I saw it as a household brand that will be widely available on the shelves of Supermarkets across Nigeria. I took the idea, let it grow wings and watched it soar.
Marketing & Sales: Every entrepreneur by default is a sales and marketing champion. If you focus on building a strong brand that adds value, people will talk about it and help you create free buzz.
How did you respond to failure as an entrepreneur?
I personally believe that every perceived challenge houses its own solution. If I am unable to find a solution at the required time, I choose to take the lesson learnt and translate it to another situation in the future.
How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
I haven’t given up yet on an idea that I have been stuck on. So far I have seen through my ideas. If at first I don’t succeed, I try and try and try and try again!
What motivates you?
Seeing my products on a supermarket shelf next to international brands and knowing that my company has evolved into an indigenous brand that promotes empowerment and nation building.
How would you define success?
Success, for me, is supporting other people’s dreams and encouraging them to look beyond themselves to use their talents and skills, not just for profit, but for nation building and empowering others.
Success for me is about leaving behind a legacy. It doesn’t end with me.