Ehime Eigbe-Akindele has had quite a week. From being one of the 100 Most Inspiring Women in Nigeria in the 2023 edition of our annual list, to featuring on the ABC reality series Shark Tank, with her husband Michael Akindele, Ehime is the poster woman for determination, hardwork, and impact for the female African and Black entrepreneur.
When the founder and CEO of Lagos and US-based frozen yoghurt brand Sweet Kiwi, Ehime Eigbe-Akindele, started her pioneering business, it was born out of the need to create a clean dessert recipe after she realised most available brands weren’t as healthy as they claimed.
After a health scare in 2009, Eigbe-Akindele made it her mission to focus on healthy eating. Unfortunately, this meant she’d have to give up her favourite dessert, ice cream. Now on a mission to find a healthier, yet just as satisfying dessert, she soon began to research the topic of nutrition. As she learned more, Eigbe-Akindele started to create her own recipes for frozen yoghurt.
After some trial and error, the ambitious entrepreneur felt she was ready to begin the long journey of launching her own frozen yoghurt food business. However, after returning to Nigeria following a holiday in the US, Eigbe-Akindele noticed a lack of available frozen yogurt shops and quickly recognised a great potential for business. This decision would ultimately pay off. The demand for Sweet Kiwi was high, and it quickly gained a cult following locally.
Sweet Kiwi was soon able to open a flagship store and two additional locations in Nigeria, and then eventually, launch its product offering in the US. Speaking to Business Day Nigeria, Eigbe-Akindele said: “I founded the first frozen yogurt company in Nigeria with the intention to create healthier dessert options in the country. Sweet Kiwi frozen yogurt is now a well-known brand in Nigeria which I built from scratch. We are currently the top frozen yogurt company in the whole of West Africa.”
With business doing well in Nigeria, Eigbe-Akindele decided to move back to Washington D.C. with her husband, where they would try to build a consumer packaged version of their frozen yogurt. Describing the expansion, she says, “The expansion was quite exciting for me because it was a validation of seven years of hard work I had put into the business. To have top US retail brands and top people in the food industry in the US try our products and believe we have something special really gave us so much confidence.”
Eigbe-Akindele has also gone on to win several grants such as the VISA & I Fund Women Black Women-Owned Grant, Sara Blakely & Spanx’s Red Backpack Grant, Digital Undivided’s ‘Do You’ grant, and additional one for winning the Black Girls Ventures Pitch, all of which expanded her business and helped her gain more visibility.
Sweet Kiwi now has over 100 flavours and recipes. They also make smoothies, parfaits, waffles and have created unique flavours for and led partnerships with many exciting brands such as Moët & Chandon, Pepsi, Guinness, Baileys, Veuve Cliquot and Hennessy to name a few.
She has catered major concerts for Pepsi, serving over 3000 people. Sweet Kiwi was named one of the 100 most innovative companies in Nigeria in 2017 and 2018. Eigbe-Akindele is known as the remarkable pioneer of frozen yogurt in the West African market.
On the March 10 episode of ABC’s Shark Tank, Ehime Eigbe-Akindele featured with her husband Michael Akindele asking for $250,000 for 5% equity at $5 Million Valuation.
Robert Herjavec offered $250k for 20% equity but Michael countered $250k for 7.1% equity + 5% advisory shares. Robert then countered again with $250k for 16% equity. The Sweetkiwi team agreed to this offer.
Several reports have confirmed that Ehime plans to use this funding to expand Sweet Kiwi to Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom in the nearest future.
This Article Was Culled From Smart Money Africa