#LadyBoss Interview: “Knowing your worth as a boss lady hugely determines what you get as your pay in the labour market,” Precious Onyekwere, Founder, Hariz Fruities.

Image credit: Onyekwere Precious Ijeoma

Onyekwere Precious Ijeoma obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from Imo state University. While growing up, one of the problems she encountered was not knowing where to pitch her tent because she was multi-talented. When she’s not in her business of making smoothies, meals, snacks, soups, finger foods, cakes, event planning and management, she can be found inspiring people through her platform “Thrive Beyond the Norm Africa” and other offline platforms too. As a lady boss, she’s also known as “The Smoothie Queen”.

In this interview with Leading Ladies Africa, Precious shares the inspiration behind establishing Haiz Fruities, how she’s changing the status quo as a female entrepreneur in a country dominated by men and patriarchal rules and why mentorship is important for female business owners. Lean in!

Who is Onyekwere Precious Ijeoma?

Onyekwere Precious Ijeoma is a graduate of Theatre Arts from Imo state University. She is a certified broadcaster with certification from the National Broadcast Academy and is the CEO of Hariz Fruities, a subsidiary of Hariz of Presh Enterprise – a company that specializes in making natural fruit juices, smoothies, meals, chops, healthy soups, fruit salads, parfaits, event decoration and management. Their products are void of preservatives and additives that are harmful to the body.

As the convener of Thrive Beyond the Norm Africa, she has been able to use her platform to reach out to the downtrodden in the society by helping them overcome adulterated mindsets and ill behaviours exhibited due to youthful exuberance in areas concerning sex, marriage, mindset, career, life; and converting their “pain check to a paid cheque.”

She has been recognised for her works by various media platforms like Guardian Newspaper, Correct F.M, Inspiration F.M, Leading Ladies Africa, Enterprenause T.V, Apex. Ng and Today’s Hero Campaign and is also an inspirational speaker who has spoken on various platforms to help people achieve the best version of themselves.

She is also an award-winning author of the Book titled “From Pain Check to Paid Cheque” – which exposes people to practical steps on how to convert their pains to gains. She is a member of the Young African Leaders Initiative, SheTrades Commonwealth, African Young Entrepreneur Forum and the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur Forum.

Image credit: Onyekwere Precious Ijeoma

Background story and Inspiration to Founding “Hariz Fruities

Hariz Fruities was officially founded and registered on the 7th of April 2017. Prior to this time, I just resigned from my teaching job where I was told my salary would be #32,000 but received #30,000 for the first paycheck; and which continued to reduce the subsequent months. I established Hariz Fruities with just a little knowledge about fruits and its health benefits after visiting a friend’s office where smoothies were sold for a whopping sum of N500.00. So, I thought to myself, “why search for a job when I have a skill that can pay far better?”  

About Hariz Fruities

Hariz Fruitiesspecializes in making smoothies, natural fruit juices, parfaits, fruit salads, meals, soups, cakes, desserts, finger foods, events decoration and management. Currently, our spot is located at #13 Ladipo Street, Olodi, Apapa, Lagos. We handle both indoor and outdoor delivery and training anywhere in the world. 

We started out beside a shawarma spot with a table and umbrella after which I moved to my compound and then to a hotel. Now, we have an independent spot with hopes to move to a better place soon. I started making sharwama with a stove and a non-stick frying pan before I was able to raise money to get a proper sharwama machine.

Personally, I believe that no excuse is good enough. Things would keep falling in place as you move. Sitting in a spot has never built a house.

Impact over the years

Over the years, Hariz Fruities has been able to meet the needs of people with a desire to live healthy by consuming edibles without additives or preservatives that are harmful to the body. We’ve also empowered over 2,000 individuals in profitable catering skills that’d enable them to become financially independent. Our social media educative contents, anchor podcast and e-book also teaches people to understand the functions, health benefits and nutritional values of consuming various edibles.

Image credit: Onyekwere Precious Ijeoma

How do you stay innovative?

I stay innovative by looking up to brands I draw strength from – brands like Alpha Foodie, Fruitie World, Zapphire Events, Fab Juice Bar, Smoothie Express to mention but a few. I also create time to visit places that have elements of nature like La Champagne Tropicana, Truth Beach, Landmark Beach, Lekki Conservation Centre, Sailors Lounge, Lagos etc.

I also register and attend major events where I get to meet like-minds like me. For example, I was privileged to attend Actress Mercy Aigbe’s birthday bash at Fespris Lounge & Bar owned by her colleague, Iyabo Ojo in January this year. Most of these events, if not all, were organized on the Island because of its ambience and luxurious lifestyle. It takes commitment -financial and mental discipline – to attend such events. However, since  I’m bent on becoming my best, I have no other choice but to push through.

I also belong to various social media groups that house young and creative minds like me. Examples are Too late to be Nobody by Remi Owadokun, Headstart Africa by John Obidi, Money Sense Africa by Alex Iheanacho, The Excellent Entrepreneur Network by Emenike Emmanuel, my tribe (Thrive Beyond the Norm Africa (Thribet-N)), Online Publishers and Entrepreneur Network(Open) by Edirin Edewor and a host of others.

“Hariz Fruities” In Five Years?

In five years, Hariz Fruities World should be sitting on our massive land on the Island decorated with all things beautiful ranging from trees with fruits, a garden, recreational centre, production factory, Africana eatery, natural pond and lots more. It would be a tourist centre for those who appreciate nature’s goodness and aura.

 

Image credit: Onyekwere Precious Ijeoma

Challenges on your journey and Lessons…

The highest challenge we’ve ever had to battle with is unstable electricity. I’ve lost count on times when I had to pour away our smoothies because they fermented due to power outage. We spend heavily on running artificial light (generator/Lister); and yet, we pay heavy bills to PHCN. We look forward to buying our own transformer to curb the menace that comes with the power outage.

Another challenge is the gender factor. In a country mainly dominated by men, it takes a lot of guts to stand unwaveringly as a boss lady. I’ve had to quarrel, involve the authorities, lose ties and change the environment in search for a conducive environ that’d accommodate my creativity. I’ve learnt to speak out, stand up to defend myself and stay away from men who feel threatened by my ambitious pursuit.

In my previous spot, the manager of the hotel kept consuming my smoothie without paying. When I asked for my pay, he’d tell me “It’s complimentary.” I didn’t argue, I just kept a record of everything he took. At the end of the month, I subtracted it from space payment and gave him the tiny balance left. My gesture threw him off-balance and he began making the place uncomfortable for me. I silently got an independent spot and moved out without informing him. I also gave them my word that they wouldn’t find someone else to fill up my smoothie spot. One year after, that spot is still bare.  

For me, knowing your worth as a boss lady goes a long way to determine what you get as your pay in the labour market.

Upcoming projects and what you hope to achieve

My upcoming project would be a food and drink festival in October. It’s going to be mind-blowing. There would be competition, a variety of foods prepared by different tribes, gifts, talent hunt, grants and a whole lot more. 

Tips on how to create and build an impactful business

One thing is paramount when building a successful and impactful business – Find a mentor who already excels at what you want to do and model them. While self-teaching is great; however, it leaves you at your mercy. So, find a mentor, submit to them and be open to learning.

Image credit: Onyekwere Precious Ijeoma

The secret to your success

God is my first secret. I can’t count the number of times I’ve hit rock bottom. But somehow, I draw strength from the Creator who knows my end from the beginning.

Secondly, I accept my needs and find a way to meet them because it keeps me focused enough to do what I love.

Thirdly, I know how to strike my happy chord so when it looks like I’m not getting the results I desire. I strike my happy chord and visit my happy places to ward off depression.

Final words to women in leading ladies Africa

Listen to the positive things people see in you and accept them even if you don’t look it now, because your belief brings them into fruition. Follow your dreams – it knows the way even if you don’t. Finally, always know that you are powerful – strike your chord when necessary. No one would live for you anyways.

 

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 lead@leadingladiesafrica.org, and she could possibly be featured. 

 

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