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Elizabeth Oladepo: My daughter’s food poisoning experience led me to start my business

By Esther Ijewere
22 January 2022   |   2:58 am
Farming and agriculture are the backbones of our society. Without farmers, we wouldn’t have access to food and other basic necessities

Elizabeth Oladepo

Farming and agriculture are the backbone of our society. Without farmers, we wouldn’t have access to food and other basic necessities.

Take a moment to really appreciate this profession and all the hard work and dedication the farm life requires. Thanks to farmers; we can eat a wide range of food all year round. There is no doubt that Agriculture is our wisest pursuit because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.

Elizabeth Oladepo is passionate about improving the lives of individuals in Nigeria through healthy and safe food production. She founded 07 Foods to contribute to the achievement of the SDG 2 and 12 goals. With the establishment of 07 Foods, she partners with smallholder farmers to eliminate food poisoning caused by adulteration and cross-contamination of food products as well as reduce environmental degradation due to the burning of crop residue by converting them into livestock feeds.

She is Nigeria’s 25 Under 25 Award Prize Winner for Agriculture 2020 and a recipient of the Eloy Recognition Award for Enterprise.

Graduating with a First Class in Business Administration and Management, Elizabeth seeks to learn, unlearn and relearn great business values and skills by connecting with individuals and organisations to achieve communal growth. Elizabeth, who loves to read, travel and create food recipes, shares her inspiring journey in this interview.

Growing Up
MY childhood was a mix of roller-coaster emotions. I lost my parents while I was in Pry.5 and lost access to everything, including building a strong relationship with my only sibling as we got separated. Luckily for me, my father had insurance to cover my education, as I was in boarding school. It helped me grow my self-confidence, discipline, and independence. So yes, I think I see the traits of discipline in my business.

Pitching My Tent In The Agricultural Sector
My daughter’s food poisoning experience led me to start my business. She consumed bad flour and was at the hospital for a few weeks at just eight months old. So, I started making my own flour, selling to family and friends and finally launching it into a full-fledged business.

Inspiration Behind 07 Foods
The unending cases of food poisoning are caused by adulteration and contamination of food. Also, the ability to be able to contribute to economic growth.

The Journey So Far
The journey has been a lot inspiring, challenging, filled with laughter and tears, and of course, many opportunities have helped me scale. I can’t believe we will be three years in business by February.

Products At 07 Foods
Our product line includes yam flour, unripe plantain flour, Kokoro (corn sticks) and we are launching more products this year 2022.

Challenges 
One of the major problems we face in this business is instability in the market. A lot of time, we must absorb certain costs so as not to keep increasing the prices of our products, but every single time, there is always a new price of raw produce or packaging material or even the logistics. The rate of inflation is causing so much harm. Other challenges include logistics, climate change, and hiring youths.

Other Projects And Activities
Personally, I help other women succeed in business through training on business structure and grant-winning pitches through my Tams Cademy. I also partner with ZEEP Initiative to bring encouragement and support to women businesses in the hospitality industry.

What I Enjoy Most About My Job
I enjoy the production and client relations part of my work. For my production, I am able to work with smallholder farmers in Oyo State by off taking their product; it is always fun to be in the midst of the elderly ones where I get to learn so much more about life. On the other hand, we have amazing customers whose feedbacks help us in ensuring the best outputs; both the back and front end are always amazing.

Three Women Who Inspire Me And Why
Mrs. Edobong Akpabio – Founder of Visionage Agrotech Farms Ltd – Mrs. Edobong is an all-around excellent person in my industry who is not just my mentor but also an amazing mother. She is selfless helpful and goes the extra mile for entrepreneurs in the Agro sector.

Fade Ogunro, founder and CEO of Bookings Africa – Fade’s grit and resilience are outstanding. Her journey from being a radio host to becoming the founder of Bookings Africa, channeling through challenges and coming out better is one of the amazing reasons why this woman inspires me. She dares to be different.

Mrs. Ibukun Awosika – She inspires me through her work and support for girls and women. Her works make me believe that my goals are achievable. She truly is a gem.

Government And Its Support For Agricultural Sector
I believe it is a continuous process. Over the last few years, programmes dedicated to supporting the Agro sector have been put in place by the government, which I believe can be more inclusive. By this, I mean more processing plants for MSME food processors, which will curb to a large extent food importation in the country.

The issue of security should also be top-of-mind for the government as our farmers are faced with so many occurrences of crop burning which is one of the reasons for the price hikes.

The Pandemic And How It Affected My Business
My business was well-positioned to counter 80 per cent of the effect of the pandemic, as we were already online, customer data was not a problem, we ensured to get more inventory of not just our products but other food commodities our customers need, we also ensured to map out our delivery processes. In short, all we did was structure how we could function better and of course; we had the government permit for essential commodities.

The Agricultural Sector And Thing I’d Like To Change
Access to reasonable financial plans for MSMES. Honestly, if we are to deal with food importation and depend on local production, there is a need for finance to get to the right hands. To purchase machines, fertilisers, raw materials, logistics, and so much more, we need finance. It will be of no use if we ban the importation and local production is not sufficient for the economy. So yes, access to finance.

Being A Woman Of Rubies
I am phenomenal, I recognise the power and opportunities I have and I am ready and willing to share with other women. This makes me a Woman of Rubies.

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