#LadyBoss Nwanji Ogechukwu Henrietta, Founder, Hetty Coconut World “I started my business with 5 coconuts which is equivalent to N1,000”.

Image credit: Henrietta Nwanji

We are blessed that Mother Earth provides us with our daily needs of food and water from nature. However, that is not to say that many of us realise what the earth has blessed us with. One woman, who knows, and is currently, changing the narrative is, Henrietta Nwaji, who uses coconut shells to make eco-friendly products; thereby, reducing environmental pollution.

Nwanji Ogechukwu Henrietta also known as “The Coconut Professor”, is a graduate of Computer Science from the University of Portharcourt, Rivers State. She is an Alumnus of the U.S Exchange Program- Academy for Women Entrepreneurs; British Council – Creative Enterprise Program; Enactus Nigeria, and The Platform: Young Professionals.

As the founder of Hetty Coconut World, Henrietta is creating a sustainable environment by eradicating pollution caused by coconut shells in the environment. Henrietta produces eco-friendly products from coconut shells which such as necklaces, wristbands, buttons, keyholders, bowls, and soap dishes.

In this interview with LLA, Henrietta takes us on a journey of how she started her business with five coconuts (equivalent to N1,000), the importance of mentorship for business owners and how she has been able to gradually grow her business. Lean in!

Who is the Coconut Professor?

My name is Ogechukwu Henrietta Nwanji (also known as “The Coconut Professor”), a graduate of Computer Science from the University of PortHarcourt, Rivers State. I’m a fellow of the Platform: Young Professional and also the Next Generation Female Leader for African Women in Leadership Organisation.  I am the founder of Hetty Coconut World, a brand aimed at promoting the African culture using coconuts. 

Your story

My quest for the solution to my hair problems led me to coconut. I started with coconut oil and the first coconut oil I used looked more like palm kernel oil. The only difference was the smell.

Thanks to research, I discovered that there is more to coconuts than its oils. I discovered that what people called waste were fortunes disguised as coconut shells. I began to research, practice and learn from coaches to help master the craft. 

Funds and Logistics 

I started my business with 5 coconuts which are equivalent to N1,000. With this first start, I was able to gradually grow my business to the stage it is today with the profit I made from it. 

Achievements

My team emerged as the winner of the Business Idea Challenge organized by Nigeria Bottling Company, Youth Empowered held in Benin City, Edo State. HettyCoconut World was also the winner of the #MyCraftStory Competition organised by African Handmade Forum.

We were selected as a fellow of The Platform: Young Professionals, and also selected as the Next Generation Female Leaders for African Women in Leadership Organisation (AWLO). We also got featured as one of the 10 Innovative Young Leaders in the AWLO magazine.

Image credit: Henrietta Nwanji

My greatest achievement

In May 2018, African Women in Leadership Organisation called for the nomination of exceptional young female leaders as their Next Generation Female Leaders. Out of a total of 2204 nominations (in which 20 nominees will be selected for 3 states (Abuja, Lagos and Rivers), I emerged as one of the Next Generation Female Leaders for Rivers State. 

Your Inspiration

I want the younger generation to see or hear of me and say, “Because of you and your story, I didn’t give up!”

Thoughts on Mentorship

I believe in mentorship. Mentors have led me on the right path and made sure I didn’t experience the same mistakes they made.  

Challenges

One challenge I have faced is inadequate funding. I work with simple tools that make work more stressful. However, my commitment to my work has kept me going.

Entrepreneurship & Personal Life 

To successfully combine both, I had to develop the skill of time management and leverage it. This has helped me grow. I have also learned to set my priorities right.   

You in Five Years?

In five years, I see myself becoming an authority in the creative industry. 

Image credit: Henrietta Nwanji

Your Uniqueness?

I don’t believe in impossibility.

 

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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