My love for food and agriculture inspired me to start Teemarkfood – Ibenero Tobiloba
In the past few weeks we have witnessed a situation that has not only put the world at a standstill, but also affected families and businesses. Many can’t afford to put food on the table as a result of the global lockdown to help contain the virus. Agro Entrepreneur Ibenero Tobiloba Tolase is helping to alleviate the pains of many by providing them with food and giving them hope through her Teemark Food Company, where she produces and processes raw foods such as Garri Ijebu, yam flour and plantain flour. With support from well-meaning Nigerians, she’s been able to feed over 200 families in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, as they partner with her to package foodstuff under N4000 to feed each family in a bid to give hope, pending when things go back to normal.
The graduate of Pure and Applied Chemistry from Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) was inspired by her love for agriculture and passion for food, which started when she was young. Tobi loved seeing the smile on people’s faces when they eat good quality food.
Aside Agriculture, Tobi is also passionate about issues that affect women and young girls. Through her Girlscrib Initiative, she helps sensitise women and teenage girls on the importance of menstrual health. This initiative also distributes sanitary pads to secondary school girls.
She is the Creative Director of Jembridals, a one-stop bridal shop for traditional wedding and aso-ebi and also volunteers for Project Smile, an NGO that reaches out to the orphans all over Nigeria.
She shares her inspiring story in this interview.
My childhood was fun and I am glad I had a mother that is filled with wisdom, who taught me all I know today. I am the eldest of two children and was trained well in all areas, not because I am a girl, but because I would be a leader some day. One thing that was constant in our home was food to give to friends and family. My mum always told us, “never look the other way when people around you have nothing to eat” and that lesson is what is guiding me till date.
Inspiration behind Teemarkfood
Good food! My love for food and Agriculture inspired Teemarkfood. One of the ways I feel fulfilled is seeing people have access to quality food and which has been my mantra since I was a child.
Reception since Inception
It is a learning process, but I am grateful to God for wisdom to discern the pros and cons of the business. People have been very supportive and accepting of my initiative.
Support for female Agropreneurs
Well, we are not there yet but times are changing; we will get there eventually. We are not backing down, we will keep pushing till we are at the front-burner and recognised for our efforts as change agents.
Giving hope to those affected by the lockdown
There was a point in my life when we had nothing to eat as a family, it was a very difficult time and with that understanding, knowing that there are families out there who do not have anything to feed on but might be reluctant to ask from friends and families, the next thing I thought of was reaching out to them first.
Effects of the lockdown and Coronavirus on Agropreneur
Honestly, I would say transporting and getting the food from one place to the other so that people can have access to it easily, but we are doing our best to give hope and lighten the people’s burden. We are also calling on well- meaning Nigerians to help alleviate the pains of these people by partnering with us through our platform to feed more people.
Challenges of being an Agro Entrepreneur
Financial challenges: Agro-entrepreneurs not having access to loans and enough capital to improve and increase their productivity.
Transportation: Government should help reduce charges and fees paid on farm produce that are transported from the farms to urban areas.
Education: Sensitisation of our local farmers on technology and its advantages on agriculture is also very important, because it makes the production faster and delivery to consumers quick.
Other projects and activities
I am working on a project called “Girlscrib” this is an NGO for women and teenage girls. The project will help educate women on menstrual health and also provide sanitary pads to secondary school girls.
Being a Woman of Rubies
I believe I carry greatness within me and I am on a journey to transfer that greatness into each and everyone I come across by spreading love.
To young women who want to become Agro Entrepreneurs
I would say this first, trust God to use you as a vessel for greatness, believe strongly in your self and lastly stay focused. When you have these three you become unstoppable.