Photo Credit: Alice Uba
Alice Uba is the CEO, McDera Kitchen and Founding Partner, McDera Food Bank Foundation & Girl Power Initiative. McDera Food Bank Foundation, is a platform that allows McDera Kitchen to provide healthy meals to the underprivileged. Driven on a standard of buy a bowl and feed a hungry, McDera Kitchen is committed to allocating 20% (percent) of its profit from every bowl to feeding the hungry children, the aged and homeless.
McDera Food Bank Foundation has fed thousands through this intervention. Alice also lends her experience, under the Girl Power Initiative (GPI), by providing mentorship to young girls between the ages of 14 to 21 who lack mother figures in their lives yet seek role models. Alice is a certified emotional intelligence specialist, customer service professional, with over 12 years’ experience in administration. Scroll down to read our interview with this Ladyboss.
A brief introduction about Alice Uba, what’s your story?
My name is Alice Uba, I am a co-founder in McDera Food Bank Foundation and the CEO of McDera Kitchen Nigeria, a bespoke catering outfit in Lagos that delivers on-demand packaged local delicacies particularly, soup and stew. In the last 6 years, McDera Kitchen has met the needs of individuals and families with healthy on-demand home-type meals. Premised on healthy meals from a hygienic environment with the addition of convenience and affordability, McDera Kitchen continues to provide premium home-made meals to its clients.
I have a strong passion for cooking and equally particular about what is been consumed as food. Having observed the fast pace lifestyle of families and busy professionals in comparison to their eating habits, I decided to bring in my expertise in helping busy people who do not have the luxury of time to prepare and package healthy and sumptuous meals.
Can you tell us about McDera’s Kitchen and McDera’s Food Bank Foundation, and what inspired you to go into this line of business?
In 2016, I was driven by a passion to tackle prevalent hunger among growing children in my community and in Nigeria, so I had to modified the business structure of McDera Kitchen to include a social arm (McDera Food Bank Foundation); a platform that allows McDera Kitchen to provide healthy meals to inner-city children as well as people in the street and slums. I am often baffled as to why there is surplus of food in one area and a scarcity of food in another area sometimes within very close proximity. In view, McDera Kitchen commits 20% (per cent) of its profit from every bowl of food purchased to feeding the hungry children, the aged and homeless.
My greatest inspiration is based on the premise that I am able to meet the needs of busy families and professionals by providing them with homemade meals right at the comfort of their homes, and at same time helping people in marginalized communities solve hunger problems and providing them with skills that will help them earn a living and become resourceful in nation building.
What has been the Highlight for you since you founded your business?
The highlight for me has basically been the fact that my clients are able to get healthy meals made with love, at an affordable price, yet at their convenience considering their tight schedule.
How do you handle running your business successfully, what principles help you grow?
I have been able to run my business successfully over the years by constantly pouring out myself in terms of giving in my best, being truthful to my clients, adding value, and being consistent in providing quality at its peak. One of the principles that have helped me to grow the business is the fact that I put my customers needs first, helping my clients provide adulterated meals has in turned opened several doors to meeting new clients.
Another growth principle that has helped me succeed over the years is hiring the right team members. I have an amazing team no doubt, and they are willing to go out of their way. Every business need team member who are loyal to the organization.
Openness, I am always open for new ideas, willing to test the waters, and flexible enough to welcome innovative ideas from staff as well as create new products as much as it solves a problem.
Genuineness, we are a stickler for “what you see is what you get”. We are true to our words and our customers.
Care to talk about Challenges on your journey and Lessons you’ve learnt?
I have had countless challenges ranging from government policies, to lack of power to preserve product and increased tariffs, inaccessibility of loans to upscale production for small business. Staffing at some point was an issue, as well as logistics in terms of delivery and transporting of goods from the point of purchase to where it is needed for production.
However, the lessons learnt have helped me to put on my thinking cap and come up with innovative approach that can be adopted to enhance growth.
Tell us about the Social Innovators Boot camp for which you recently qualified as a finalist and its impact in your journey?
SIBC has brought about a paradigm shift in my non-profit journey. The 12 weeks was quite rigorous especially with the combination of various activities and the emergence of the pandemic, the whole period was well spent. The quality of facilitators were exceptional, I had to go back to my drawing board to fix a lot of things as lectures were unfolding. The program opened me up to a lot of things I need to know about running a structured and well a detailed blueprint of what needs to be done and how to go about it. One of the things I am happy about is my strategy plan. Kudos to Donors for Africa for setting up SIBC.
Tips on how you handle when the going gets tough?
I understand that there will always be trying times either in life or in the business, but what I have come to terms with is that I identify those moments, I pray and ask God for wisdom, go back to the drawing board, take time to think through what needs to be done, take out the lessons learnt, and deploy the necessary strategy.
Bonus Question: Final words to entrepreneurs who want to go into the food industry and women in our community?
It is good to be passionate about what you do, but beyond the passion, you need to keep pressing hard and pushing forward, keep aiming higher, keep updating yourself and keep fanning the flame. There is one acronym that keeps me going… TOAST yourself.
T-hink of better ways to do what you do
O-bserve how things are done
A-spire to become more because you have what it takes on the inside of you
S– teer the wheel of your passion
T-hankful at all times for little and big wins, be thankful to God.
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The 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, and she could possibly be featured.