Ogbu Mary-Jane started Ovalz food as a means of putting an end to food wastage she often saw around her.
Talk about seeing a gap and filling it! Her interest in going into the processing and packaging of natural and healthy Nigerian foods piqued when she saw how much food was wasted in the north and how much scarcity of these foods affected other parts of the country.
Let’s learn more from her.
Hi Ogbu Mary-Jane, what’s your brand name?
Ovalz Foods Nigeria Ltd
Tell us about Ovalz Foods Nigeria Ltd .
We process and package natural and healthy Nigeria foods
How did you get started?
While growing up, I saw my dad advocating for preserving food. He disliked wastage. He would make us preserve food that we couldn’t consume at once for a later day, or a later time.
So, when I travelled to Jos to further my education, I was perplexed at the amount of food that would waste every farming season. From tomatoes to pepper to potatoes and other perishable food items.
I wasn’t very interested in doing so much about it, until I travelled to see my parents, and my mom was lamenting about the price and non-availability of tomatoes.
Then I said to myself, what an irony? There in Jos, is an abundance that is been wasted and here is my mom in need of something that is super available. It is just in a different part of the country.
Then I knew, that this is a problem that needed to be solved. I began to wonder how many women in other parts of Nigeria had the same problem and would gladly embrace a solution. That was how Ovalz was birthed. And since then, it’s been looking for solutions to lingering problems, hence our coffee and other products in the future.
What challenges do you currently face in your business?
The time that regulatory bodies take in approving the safety of product, is unnecessarily long. And also there’s the non-availability of locally made machines and some materials that are essential for packaging.
What country do you manufacture your goods, and why?
I manufacture here in Nigeria, because the bulk of my raw material, is right here in my locality.
Which stakeholder do you think has the most influence in your industry? How do you think they can help?
The consumers can help by giving accurate feedback while the next is the government. They can help by making approval processes faster.
What is the one thing you think we need to stop importing in Nigeria?
Food, we have it in abundance.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started?
I wish I had networked more and had a clear customer persona.
What is your advice for new entrants/entrepreneurs in your industry?
Know who your customers are. Not everyone will buy your product. Some will swear that they will never buy. But have a clear-cut idea of who your customers are and pursue them. You don’t need any one to believe in you. All the belief you need is of yourself. Stay around people who understand your process.
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