Ayodeji Oluyemisi Megbope, is the CEO of No Left Overs Nig. Ltd– a full scale catering outfit which started with a take-off capital of N1,000 but today has an annual turn-over that runs into millions of naira. She was one of the first women worldwide to benefit from the 10,000 Women Initiative –set up to empower 10,000 underserviced women worldwide with formal business skills and education. Today she is an ambassador of the 10,000 Women Initiative; she has graced numerous local and international platforms and thus become an inspiration to many. The origin of “No Left Overs”
I run a catering outfit known as No Left Overs Nigeria Ltd. I started the company with initial capital fee of N1000. I started by selling moin-moin. When I started, it was not with the intention to start a business. I got to a situation where I had little or nothing to fall back on. It was a coincidence. I prepared moin-moin that day and had my sister in law pay me a visit. She tasted the moin-moin and she was wowed by it. Requested that I make for her the following day, she asked me how much it will cost her to get exactly what she had eaten. I told her N1000 and she gave it to me. I made for her, had some leftovers and gave to some people to taste. They enjoyed it. The question my sister in law asked the first time kept coming back: how much would it take for you to make exactly this? The same answer I gave to everybody: “N1000!”
“This Business Is Here To Stay”
Having done for family and friends and realising in about three months that the N1000 is hitting N30,000 – N40,000, I knew this was serious business. At that time, I was reading and listening to business people. I learned that the best way to achieve success in business is to have a high turnover. So the question that popped to my mind was: where can I go so as to make my products/services available to a wide audience? So I went to my last place of work. It was a very humbling experience for me. It was a school and when I was leaving I had told everyone that cared to listen that I was going to open my own school. To go back to the same school and hawk moin-moin was very humbling for me. But I had to do it because I prayed about it and knew that was where I needed to be. And it just opened me up to a wider market.
The Goldman Sachs Experience
Even though I was making lots of money after establishing my business, I could not account for the money I was making. There were a number of things I was not doing right. I had not opened a bank account. I was still running my company from the handbag so to say! It got to a point I knew that I needed to build capacity; I needed more knowledge about how to run a business. Coincidentally I came across a newspaper advert that an American company (Goldman Sachs) was coming into Nigeria to invest in women that have businesses but lack necessary skills. We were asked to write an essay that will help to determine whether we really need to be in the programme. I simply wrote what I was doing, which was hawking moin-moin in front of a school. To my amazement, I was shortlisted. At the end, I got a scholarship, went on a six-month programme at the EDC. The first thing I realise was that I needed to put my finances together. I needed to put structures in place; that my sales and expenditures were clearly written out. We were taught the nitty-gritty of accounting and I knew I was not doing any of it. Module: Developing Financial Records. Another area that helped was the Customer Service, because prior to that I was unsure of myself. I’ve had experiences in the past that robbed me of my self-confidence. After going through that module, I found out that there was nothing anybody was doing that I couldn’t do. Then I realise that I have good communication skills, all I needed to do was dig deep into my resources. The courage I built from there has been amazing. I’ve been able to reach out to client I felt I could never reach out to. My business took a different turn ever since.
Coping With Expansion
After getting my account together; another challenge I faced was staffing. The module: people make it happen sorted me out with that. I was able to put up proper structure for my staffing. I was able to overcome the challenge of tying the business around me. Prior to that, I felt “No Left Over” was my baby; and nobody could handle the business like me. But I found out that as long as your business is tied around you, you can’t grow. You need to be able to trust, delegate and empower people. Putting all that in place helped us. We were able to reach out to a larger market. We could take several steps at the same time. We exploded. From that we were able to build up capital. We started from my kitchen and we were there for almost two years before moving to a location in Ikeja. Then I found that location is very important. Another aspect of the programme that helped was putting together a business plan. Without a business plan, you really don’t have a map of where you are going. It helped us know where we were at every point in time and project going forward.
Counsel for Young Entrepreneurs
The most important advice I would give is: “Never be afraid to start small; never be afraid to start with what you have.” Along the way, I got my fingers burnt in some areas; one of which is biting more than you can chew. We were doing so well and at a point I felt; let’s begin to acquire this and that. Realising we don’t have enough funds, I said: let me have facility, which we did and it was overwhelming. We struggled to pay off the facility and the interest and it set us back a great deal. So I will encourage young entrepreneurs to start with what they have. Having a business plan will help you to plan adequately, help you make your projections rightly. Also, your financial records must be properly kept. It would help you know where and when to expand.