It is not every day you see a Civil Engineer venture into the business of food making, well, this is the case of Chef Nneka Agbo. Chef Nneka as she’s popularly called, bagged a bachelor’s degree in civil Engineering from Enugu state University of Science and Technology but ended up embracing entrepreneurship. As a professional chef, Nneka specializes in African cuisine and is the founder of Dolphin Restaurant Limited, one of the most innovative Restaurants in Abuja, Nigeria. Scroll down to read up our chat with her and learn a thing or two!
Hello Chef Nneka, It’s great to have you on LLA, can you briefly describe yourself and your business?
My name is Chef Nneka Agbo, with a bachelor’s degree in civil Engineering from Enugu state University of Science and Technology who ended up diverting to embrace entrepreneurship as a professional chef with specialty in African cuisine. I am the CEO Dolphin Restaurant Limited located in Abuja, happily married with children.
Why entrepreneurship? and what inspired this particular line of business?
It has been my childhood dream to help a lot of people and be the reason why people smile. I became an entrepreneur because I felt that is the only way to achieve my dream knowing that I’ve been called to be a blessing to my generation. I was inspired by my mother who has been in the catering business for more than 4 decades. I believe it’s a continuation of my Mother`s legacies.
How did you start up your business and what would you say has been the most rewarding highlight of your journey so far?
I used to work with a pension fund administrator back then, I was pressured to leave the organization by my ex-husband and pay attention to raising our children. I wasn’t fulfilled as a full time house wife so I ventured into making soups and selling to bankers particularly bachelors. I can never forget a friend of mine who solicited on my behalf from her colleagues to make sure I get constant orders. That was how I started and before long the restaurant commenced.
When you launched your business, did you have prior knowledge on how you could run one? How did you make it work?
Yes, I had prior knowledge because I had worked with my mum for several years.
What new innovation have you introduced to your business?
It used to be difficult to get freshly prepared meals on the go within the capital city but we developed a strategy to prepare meals fresh per order. We are also one of the first set of restaurants to start the delivery of food method.
Your line of business requires you to meet different kinds of people, what have you learnt most and what attribute or skill would you say every entrepreneur should hold on to?
In my line of business, honesty is key, so I try to be as honest as possible. Also, one very important attribute every entrepreneur should hold on to is Patience; this is an important attribute when dealing with customers.
What will you say is responsible for your success?
Handwork, Dedication, Consistency and most importantly God.
In your opinion, would you say that there are any unique challenges that female entrepreneurs face? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced, and what’s kept you going?
Yes, there are challenges that female entrepreneurs face in business. More so there isn’t a level playing field for women in business. Majorly, lack of funding and access to loans were our initial challenges, which we have since surpassed. The determination to succeed has kept me moving.
What’s your five-year plan for your business?
To diversify and improve on my services. I hope to be observant and exploit other opportunities in the industry.
What do upcoming female entrepreneurs need to do to be successful in this path?
They need to be dedicated and consistent. They must also know the business they intend to invest in first hand.
The LLA Lady Boss Series is a weekly interview series that highlights the achievements and entrepreneurial journeys of African female entrepreneurs. The idea is to showcase the Leading Ladies who are transforming Africa and the African narrative through enterprise and business.
It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes leadership, inclusion and diversity for women of African descent.
If you know any kick-ass women of African Descent doing phenomenal things in enterprise, email email@example.com, and she could possibly be featured.