Entrepreneurs target Nigerian shoppers with cookies, furniture and more

Customers having a meal at a So Fresh outlet.

From affordably-priced cookies tailored for the mass market to furniture crafted for aspirational millennials, we highlight six entrepreneurs who have launched consumer-oriented ventures in Nigeria.

1. Cookie company cracks the Nigerian market

Fastizers, a Nigerian snack and cookie company founded in 2010, recently secured a $2 million investment from Aruwa Capital Management. Debby Lawson, the founder, initially eyed roles in the banking or oil industries post-university. But, while job hunting, she found herself working at a Lagos bakery. During a late-night shift to fulfil a large order, she was inspired to start her own cookie venture. She began with just 1,000 naira (roughly $1.30).

Juggling her bakery job and fledgling business proved unsustainable, prompting her to quit and relocate operations to her sister’s modest kitchen. Her baking commenced every evening following the completion of family meals. “Sometimes I’d be in the kitchen at 2am baking cookies. But when you’re doing something you love, it really doesn’t feel like stress,” says Debby. “Seeing the progress, from 20 packs to 50 packs to 100 packs per day… It was exciting.” Read the full article

2. Nigerian-crafted furniture tailored for aspirational millennials

In 2018, Jumoke Dada founded Taeillo, a Lagos-based furniture manufacturer. Leveraging locally-sourced raw materials, the company produces an array of furniture items such as sofas, beds, chairs, and tables. Taeillo distributes its offerings via its e-commerce platform to both individual and corporate clientele. Dada started by designing one item and posting her design on Facebook. “A customer liked it and paid a deposit to have it made. I made 17,000 Nigerian naira (US$22.30 at the current exchange rate) profit, which was used to make the next piece. It grew from there.” Read the full article

3. Former NBA agent returns to Nigeria to launch sportswear brand

After working in the US as an agent for top NBA players, Ugo Udezue returned to Nigeria and eventually established the sports and athleisure wear company AFA Sports, which stands for ‘Africa for Africans’. AFA Sports sponsored the Nigerian men’s and women’s basketball teams and was the official outfitter for the Nigerian Olympic team at the Tokyo Games in 2021. “Everything we sell, we design and produce in Nigeria. We have different factories, and it’s a mix of mechanised production and by-hand. I’d never done manufacturing before starting AFA Sports – it took a team of six people about six months of experimentation to understand how the manufacturing would work,” Udezue explains. Read the full article

4. Elevating Nigeria’s groundnut industry with branded snacks

In 2015, Ladipo Lawani and Lanre Ladipo co-founded L&L Foods, a food processing and packaging firm in Lagos, offering a groundnut snack labelled Mr Ekpa. While Nigeria ranks as the world’s third-largest groundnut producer, Lawani notes that roughly 90% of the nation’s roasted groundnuts are informally packaged and unbranded. L&L’s assortment of roasted groundnuts features regular, salted, and frosted varieties. It has also introduced a flour-coated variant, termed Burger Peanuts. Read the full article

5. Championing local production in the baby food sector

Many Nigerians seek natural foods tailored to their infants’ tastes. Seun Sangoleye, a former computer scientist, noticed her son wouldn’t eat imported baby formula and other processed foods. This led her to create Baby Grubz, a company that makes infant food using local ingredients and traditional Nigerian recipes. She is optimistic about the potential advantages the African Continental Free Trade Area could offer to Baby Grubz. Sangoleye has aspirations to expand her product sales to countries like South Africa, Ghana, and Kenya. Additionally, she’s keen on strengthening connections with suppliers from Niger, given her interest in incorporating their dates into her recipes. Read the full article

6. Tapping into Nigeria’s healthy food market

When Olagoke and Abimbola Balogun founded So Fresh, a health-focused restaurant and retail chain, the wellness food industry in Nigeria was largely undeveloped. But times have changed, and the trend has gained momentum. Now, So Fresh boasts numerous branded locations, having expanded its offerings from fruits and vegetables to a diverse range including salads, juices, and smoothies. “I see the industry becoming more competitive. Look at what’s happening in the US and the UK. Traditional fast-food businesses are creating their versions of healthy meal options or taking over companies currently doing that. The fast-food landscape will switch to fresh, healthy alternatives,” notes Olagoke. Read the full article