On this week’s lady boss series, we have lawyer, cum foodpreneur, and the CEO of Tasty Corridors, Princess Olufunmi Ehuwa who is passionate about changing the narrative of local delicacies in the Nigerian food industry.
Her business- Tasty Corridors is an online based indigenous food brand that delivers homemade delicacies to consumers in Nigeria and the Diaspora.
With best sellers like ’aganyin’ sauce (black chilli pepper sauce) which is specially packaged in ready to eat jars and can last up to 6 months without reheating or refrigerating while maintaining its unique taste, Princess Olufunmi is slowly but certainly etching her name and brand into the minds of Nigerian food enthusiasts.
Hello! It’s great to have you on LLA, Can you briefly describe yourself and your business?
My name is Princess Olufunmi Ehuwa. I am lawyer cum foodpreneur, and the CEO of Tasty Corridors. I am passionate about changing the narrative of local delicacies in the food industry. When I’m not cooking, I am creating strategies for small and striving SMEs to go from passion to profit. I love reading, cooking and talking.
Tasty Corridors is an online based indigenous food brand that delivers homemade delicacies to consumers in Lagos every day. Through this business, I help busy women in Lagos live a balanced life with our ready to eat homemade delicacies, so that they can thrive as leading ladies in Africa.
Can you share what inspired you to go into this particular business?
I started the business in 2017 after my youth service while waiting for a white-collar job. I started with a token of three thousand naira savings and later added my youth service allowance to do branding items like logos, fliers and stickers. When the idea to sell ’ewaaganyin’ came it sounded crazy but I decided to follow it through nonetheless.
The name ’Tasty Corridors’ was inspired by the fond memories living in down town Lagos. I was born and brought up in ebutemetta. We lived with the Togolese who were referred to as ‘Aganyin’. I learnt how to prepare the Aganyin beans from them in exchange for cakes, icing sugar and snacks as my Mom was a Caterer. I learnt how to bake from her and also my culinary prowess. The house had no kitchen as it was a ‘face me I face you’ house, so everyone cooked at the corridor. The corridor was always filled with aroma of different delicacies. It resonated with me to relish the fond memory bestowed upon me. I decided to create innovative solution by leveraging on technology to bring local delicacies closer to consumers.
A typical example is our best-selling jar of aganyin sauce (black chilli pepper sauce) known predominantly for ewaaganyin (mashed beans) packaged in ready to eat jars so that lovers of this indigenous delicacy do not have to wait for hawkers before they can have it. The sauce can last for at least six months on the shelf without reheating or refrigerating while maintaining its unique taste.
Before setting out, did you have prior knowledge on how you could run a business? How did you make it work?
I have always been an entrepreneur right from my undergraduate days in Unilag, Akoka. I discovered that it’s a different ball game running an online based food business especially using the Instagram platform. I knew I had the culinary prowess to whip mouthwatering delicacies but the business angle i.e creating a sustainable food brand was a different ball game.
I was counting losses back and forth instead of making profit. I decided to go back to the drawing board to see where the mistake came from. I decided to learn digital marketing so that I could fully leverage on it to build a global food brand. I paid for webinars, seminars and master classes in order to run a successful business.
Why entrepreneurship and what’s the biggest misconception about entrepreneurship that you’ve heard?
I believe entrepreneurship stems from innovative thinking to provide solution to challenges in our environment and getting rewarded for same. As an entrepreneur, whenever I am faced with a challenge I think of how to solve that challenge and how I can replicate the solution to a larger audience who are faced with a similar situation.
Entrepreneurship when mastered, brings about financial independence because where value is served, needs are met. You need to be diligent with your 9 to 5 job before you can think of handling your business successfully.
People have made various misconceptions about entrepreneurship in the past. A lot of people quit their day job because they want to be their own boss. Being an entrepreneur requires hard work, grit and perseverance in the face of heat. It can be a very challenging journey but rewarding on the long run.
What new innovation have you introduced to your business and how has the reception been so far?
I am an advocate of making local delicacies more attractive and less stressful to prepare. This has led me to think of ways to prepare and package local delicacies to meet the consumers needs.
Putting the above in perspective, I tailored our delicacies at tasty corridors to match the busy lifestyle of our consumers. They can have a quick fix of breakfast with our best-selling jar of aganyin sauce- which is very versatile (it can be served with beans, yam, plantain, spaghetti, cocoyam, bread etc) and they are good to go.
At tasty corridors, we are creating more ready to cook and ready to eat delicacies in order to make life easier for our consumers.
As an entrepreneur, you must have encountered different kinds of people, what’s the greatest lesson you have learned on your journey? Also, what will you say has been the highlight of your journey so far?
I have met different kinds of people in my journey as an entrepreneur. My patience has been tested by workers, suppliers, logistic companies (dispatch riders) and customers at various points.
I have learned emotional Intelligence is a necessary skill to thrive as a business owner especially in Lagos which is a fast paced society.
The highlight of my journey as an entrepreneur is when I receive heartwarming feedbacks from satisfied customers especially those in the Diaspora as they can relish the fond memories of childhood and home cooked local delicacies with our meals.
What will you say is responsible for your success?
Resilience! Anytime I feel like giving up, I just have to try again knowing where I am coming from and the vision of where I am going to keeps me going. I try to unlearn, learn and relearn from every mistakes, failure and setbacks that I encounter on my journey as an entrepreneur. I remember my experience last year when I participated in lots of exhibitions and food fairs.
I didn’t research enough to know if my target audience would be at the fair and I went about it with zero strategy. I made monumental loss in the fairs and was in serious debt. I was tempted to fold up the business and go back to my 9 to 5.
I didn’t however follow through. Instead, I had to do an appraisal of my processes. I decided to close down my physical outlet at Victoria Island in order to reduce overheads. To pay back the numerous debtors, I went back to my 9 to 5 job and was operating the food business from home.
I would run down to the market after closing from my 9 to 5 to do market runs and do quick meal prep while I finish the rest of the cooking as early as 4am in the morning. I would not forget in a hurry my cheerleaders, followers, customers and folks who were very supportive and held the forte when I was at the verge of giving up. I would also not forget the grace factor from my maker.
In your opinion, would you say that there are unique challenges that female entrepreneurs face? What are some of the challenges you’ve faced, and what’s kept you going?
Yes, in the sense that there are lot of stereotypes the society has placed on women to do certain kinds of businesses based on their gender and role in the family and the society at large.
I was faced with the challenge of creating an enabling environment to actualize my vision. From acceptance from folks, to sourcing for funds to running the business and meeting up with policies from regulatory bodies as a small startup. The drive to create a sustainable brand that would change the narrative in the food space kept me going and the success stories of brands who started from the scratch and are making waves and impact in the society serve as a source of motivation for me.
What’s your five-year plan for your business?
We have produced and distributed over three thousand jars of aganyin sauce to families within and outside Nigeria with three international distributors (USA, Canada and UK).
We intend to spread more love through our local delicacies to more families. In the next five years, we would have achieved our goal to establish our factory to produce more internationally accepted local delicacies. We would have met regulatory bodies requirement for accreditation.We intend to create job opportunities and an enabling environment for youths to actualize their dreams. We also intend to give back to the local communities where we carry out our operation.
Can you share some helpful tips for upcoming female entrepreneurs looking to cut their teeth in this path?
No one was ever celebrated for being the first to conceive an idea but the person who is celebrated is the one who executed the idea. To the female entrepreneurs, the journey would be rough at the beginning but keep your head straight in the game. The kitchen would get hotter but keep your eye fixed on the meal, in no time, you will make it to the top.
Keep going when no one is clapping, you would definitely be celebrated if only you persevere. Master your craft to the point of perfection and never stop learning. You are the next big thing to happen in the industry.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, and she could possibly be featured.