Success Stories of African SMEs: Ayodeji Megbope

Ayodeji Megbope - success stories

The success story of the moi-moi maker.
Ayodeji Megbope, the first of our African SME success stories runs a catering outfit called “No Left Over Nigeria Plc.” which she started with an initial capital of N1,000 by selling moi-moi (bean cake). She was trained as a confidential secretary, and worked in Corona Primary School for about nine years. On her resignation from Corona, she had the intention of starting a playgroup and not a catering outfit. To actualize this, she enrolled in a six-month Montessori program. At the end of the program, however, she lost interest in pursuing the playgroup. To get herself busy, she started cooking for her sister-in-law, who was an extremely busy career woman. One day, her sister-in-law visited her and joined Ayodeji and her family for a meal of moi-moi. She enjoyed it so much that she insisted on moi-moi being included in her menu for which Ayodeji charged N1,000. From there, family members, friends and colleagues began to place orders.

no left-overs - success stories Business realization and future plans.
Within three months of selling to a few family members and friends, the turnover was running into N30, 000 – N40, 000 and she decided to take the business more seriously. It was at that point she realized that a high turnover is critical to a success story in business. The first question that came to her mind was how to make her product available to a wider market. She went to the school she previously worked at to hawk moi-moi and that enabled her business to reach a larger market.
The Goldman Sachs experience and the impact of the Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management (CEM) program completed her success story. Even with the income from the sales of moin moin at Corona, she could not really account for the sales, expenses and profit. She had no proper financial account and believed she needed to increase her production capacity. Coincidentally, she came across an advert on the newspaper saying that a United Organization was coming into Nigeria to invest in women entrepreneurs with a business, but were lacking in necessary business skills. That was the Goldman Sachs 10,000 women program in collaboration with the Enterprise Development Centre of the Pan-African University. An essay was required from interested applicants about their businesses and growth potentials, Ayodeji participated in the essay, got shortlisted and was awarded a scholarship. She simply wrote what she was doing – selling and hawking moi-moi in front of a school. The 5-month program opened her eyes to the fact that she needed to put her finances together, and properly structure her business to ensure her sales and expenditure are clearly spelt out. Another aspect of the program that really transformed her business was the customer service aspect; reason being that prior to the CEM Program she lacked self-confidence. There, she also realized she had good communication skills, all of which would be invaluable to the eventual actualization of the “No Left-overs” success story.
After the program, she testified that her story took a different turn; she started seeing the possibilities of a success story in sight. She was like a bird ready to fly, she became unstoppable! She was determined to run the business like a real business. She opened a bank account for the company and started setting up business structures. The company had moved from one single company product (Moi-moi) to a full catering outfit, where catering to an event of 1,000 people was no longer a big deal. But she jealously guarded the seed- moi-moi, which had now become a department of its own in her new outlet. The contribution from this department in one week was enough to pay the entire staff’s monthly salary. In less than one year of being a Goldman Sachs scholar, she had saved enough money to buy her own delivery vehicle, giving her more control of service delivery. She moved her business from her home to an office, enabling her to take on multiple jobs. Success story peaked!

Ayodeji Megbope - success stories Business transformation and expansion plan:
She had staffing issues at the initial stage of growth but the HR module (people make it happen) she attended during the CEM program helped her sort it out. She set up a proper staff structure and started to delegate duties. But as she grew, she found out that as long as a business is built around the owner, it cannot grow. Trust, delegation and empowering people are required in order to grow, meet targets and eventually become a success story. Putting all that in place helped the business reach out to a larger market. She could take several steps at the same time and the business exploded. From that she was able to build up capital. She went from a humble beginning of N1,000 capital to a turnover of 50 million naira a year.
When asked for her message to young female entrepreneurs and any other potential SME success story out there thinking of starting their own businesses, she said “The most important message is never to be afraid to start small and never to be afraid to start with any amount.” She admitted that the journey was not smooth all the way. The zeal to acquire so much set in at a point and this really set her back at times. She would like to encourage the young entrepreneurs to have a good business plan because it helps with proper planning and projection. Also, she advised that financial records must be properly kept. In her words “that would help the business to know when to make the next move, when to expand and how to expand.”

The Moi-moi maker’s success story reached its climax when she was invited to New York to address the Annual General Meeting of Goldman Sachs, with satellite links to other viewing centers of the bank around the world, addressing the world’s most powerful investment bank. She was also invited by President Bill Clinton to his annual Clinton Global Initiative. In December 2011, Ayo was invited by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey for the Second Global Summit on Entrepreneurship to speak on the panel session titled “Global Entrepreneurship Revolution. In April 2013, she was one of the three women nominated to represent Nigeria in the Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Programme – a partnership which connects talented, emerging women leaders from all over the world with members of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Leaders for a month-long internship programme in the U.S. In March 2014, Ayo was invited to speak at the White House in celebration of International Women’s Day. To crown it all, she delivers motivational speeches on her success story at events across the nation.

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