By Moses Nosike
Ijeoma Ndukwe-Egwuronu, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Bubez Foods, a food company focusing on processing and packaging traditional foods using research and modern technology; steering the team towards achieving our set goals and targets.
She is also into CSR initiative that focuses on women empowerment via enlightenment and inspiration. In this interview with Moses Nosike of Saturday Vanguard SMEs &
Entrepreneurship, Ndukwe-Eguronu discussed that food processing industry relies on machines, therefore you spend a lot when there is no power as we’re seeing it today. This also affects new businesses. Excerpts:
Tell us why you are into food processing and packaging?
I am a mother of 3 kids and with my busy schedule I realised that the convenience of having a traditional meal, pap also known as OGI/AKAMU which I used in weaning my kids was important to me and I knew that will be important to other mums as well. This motivated my going into the foods processing and packaging industry.
Since there is unstable power supply, how do you preserve unsold packaged foods?
The power challenge in Nigeria is not peculiar to us, being that our produce is sold fresh, raw and frozen we resort to alternative power sources like the generator to power our cold room and we are in talks already to acquire solar panels. Though these alternative sources come at extra cost, our focus is on getting our products fresh to the stores and finally to the consumers.
What does this business need to compete favourably?
Like every other SMEs, favourable government policies that increase the ease of doing business will position us to be able to compete favourably. Provision of infrastructure, power supply among others in any economic environment gives SMEs edge to develop fast and employ more hands to the growth of the economy.
How is demand of these processed foods since the recession?
Because the purchasing power of the average Nigerian consumer has dropped, it slightly affected the demand of the products generally but not significant enough for us to shut down the business.
What are your major challenges running food processing factory in Nigeria?
I’d still say the bureaucracies encountered in government agencies involved in the foods industry, it could be discouraging. The Forex rate at this time is a contributing factor as much as the food stuff is sourced locally, the raw materials used for the locally produced packaging materials are imported, this affects production cost and the ripple effect is felt. The power challenge can’t be overemphasised, the food processing industry relies on machines. Again, when a business venture, or SMEs, young entrepreneurs provide almost everything to run a business in a given environment it becomes difficult for that economy to grow. Enabling environment is very important and advise our government to look into that direction. We need more businesses to solve the challenges of unemployment.
What is your take on women empowerment in the society?
My take is that women who deliver their jobs excellently should be given the opportunity to take their rightful positions in their chosen fields of endeavour. For me that’s what women empowerment means.