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Adanne Uche: Building an Agro-Processing Company in Lagos, Nigeria

"Ady’s Agro processing Limited is an agro-processing business based in Lagos, Nigeria that is tasked with providing families with healthier cooking ingredients, seasoning blends, and spices to ensure a nutritious and delicious meal. We make this possible with our hygienically processed and packaged Palm oil, single spices, mixed seasoning blends etc, in Nigeria and the world where African dishes are appreciated."

Q1:Tell us about your yourself:

I am the founder and C.E.O of Ady’s Agro Processing Limited. A graduate of Foreign Languages and Literature (French/German) from the university of Port Harcourt, Rivers State Nigeria. A mother of 4 beautiful children. I have 7 years working experience as a business Development manager at Tranos Contracting Limited and Client Service Executive at Promoworld Limited where she won and managed accounts like MTN, Etisalat, Nigerian Breweries, 7UP Bottling Company, etc.

I am a knowledge-driven, passionate, strong-willed and resilient woman who found herself being a strong healthy food advocate helping families cook healthy. My flare for food started way back as a young girl, which till date has given my opportunity to help families, create jobs and contribute to empowering farmers. I am also a coach, speaker and have mentored over 350 women & youth on proper business set up and scale in different fields.

Q2:What does your company do?:

Ady’s Agro processing Limited is an agro-processing business based in Lagos, Nigeria that is tasked with providing families with healthier cooking ingredients, seasoning blends, and spices to ensure a nutritious and delicious meal. We make this possible with our hygienically processed and packaged Palm oil, single spices, mixed seasoning blends etc, in Nigeria and the world where African dishes are appreciated.

This is because, in the Nigerian open market, research have shown that there are lots of unhealthy food practices, malnutrition and food adulteration We are committed to building a digital compliant, nutritious, and healthy community by using modern technology to provide our consumers with healthier, affordable cooking ingredients that have zero preservatives, zero additives, 100% herbs, spices and vegetables for a nutritious and delicious meal for all.

Q3: What inspired you to start your business?:

The daily life of an average Lagosian, especially the hard-working middle class, has always been quite stressful and hectic. In recent times, this has become more complicated: from demanding work schedules to frustrating long hours in the endless Lagos traffic, the life of many Lagosian is nerve racking and traumatic.

And coming home after such a stressful day to find the food shelf and refrigerator empty or packed with non-cleaned and unsorted food ingredients can be very unsettling. The weekends are not different with busy work schedules and domestic chores: with house cleaning and laundry, in addition to social engagements beckoning, these hard-working Lagosian find cooking and shopping a tall order and often unbearable. It is these underlying problems that gave birth to Ady's Food Mart as a solution outfit to give these hard-working women and men and other business executives some respite as well as help them to have a more balanced lifestyle.

As we grew and with my research, I found out that there are a lot of unhealthy food practices and food adulteration in the Nigerian open market which may lead to ailments and possibly death, hence we ventured into providing families with healthy options of spices, seasoning blends and oils.

Q4: How do you define your business model; what differentiates your products or Services from others?:

We are committed to building a digital compliant, nutritious, and healthy community by using modern technology to provide our consumers with our hygienically processed and packaged oils, single spices and seasonings that have zero preservatives, zero additives, 100% herbs, spices and vegetables for a nutritious and delicious meal for all. Example the popular Nigerian Jollof rice mix.

Q5: Starting a business is not easy. What struggles did you experience in the infant years of your company and how did you overcome it?:

Building Ady's hasn't been an easy one because I didn't have money so I got a N30,000/$6 loan from my brother from my kitchen and having 2 previous failed business, I needed to make this work. So first, having no money and customers, I leveraged on family and friends. When I started the personal shopping, I found it difficult to convince people to help me shop for them, so I leveraged on the training I got from Facebook International on digital marketing

Q6: What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started?:

Now, I understand that I didn't need to get a shop/office space first before getting customers. I have learnt in a hard way that funds though important should not be the first point of any business but to have a minimum viable product, a product that actually solves a problem and a customer base, then funding follows suit.

Q7: What are your 3 priorities right now:

Our biggest priorities right now include:

  1. Market access/entry - those at the bottom of the pyramid

  2. Empowering the local farmers

  3. Business expansion and product optimisation

Q8: What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?:

We are working towards creating a healthy, life-changing and stress-free Nigerian and global food consumer-community and to be the preferred choice for healthy food ingredients and seasoning providers in Africa while promoting good health and nutritious food for all.

Q9: Advice to other entrepreneurs or to your younger self?:

I would advise other entrepreneurs that passion alone does not do the magic but ensure that your business actually solves a problem that focuses on any of the United Nations Social Development Goals.

And to my younger self, you will fail surely but when you do, get up fast, look for people who have threaded that road and learn.

The world's demand for spices is incredible. Looking in the rearview mirror: 1.15 million tons of spices were produced globally in 1993, whereas in 2012 around 2.10 million tons were produced, current numbers, 10 years later, today's numbers are being consolidated. What is clear, historically, is that Asia produced 94.2% of global spices. From a growth volumes perspective: the global spices and seasonings market is expected to grow from USD 21.3 billion in 2021 to USD 27.4 billion by 2026.

As you can imagine, it brought such a delight, around our office: when news of Adanne Uche's bold inroads into the spice and seasoning sector reached our desk. For Ady's Agro Processing Limited the golden days are ahead, when considering Africa's spice consumption per capita, growing numbers, along with a rising consciousness to "buy local". We wish Adanne Uche and the team well as they continue to spice up this landscape.

We have a family tradition: every weekend we choose a country and cook a traditional dish from that country. We choose from African countries, global and ethnic groups, including our diverse home nation, South Africa. What we have found challenging is the ease of availability of ingredients from our neighbouring countries, especially spices, which really sucks because spices are everything. We never have a problem finding Indian ground spices, Itallian, Chinese etc expect when it comes to African meals based spice.

Which is why: Africa's move to amalgamate trade, lower the borders and produce the food [and spices] we consume here on African soil, is a welcome move. If there are key lessons to be harnessed from the recent COVID era and the current tensions between Russia and Ukraine, is that African nations must step up the drive to make their own food. We must be sustainable from within, then bless our neighbours, through an overflow from our table, from that sustainability.

If you take away the spice and seasoning from our dinner tables: then the bottom falls out, from our dining experiences we have come to treasure. There's no point trying to enjoy Jollof rice without jollof seasoning spice mix. In the same token: there's no Africa, without bold innovators like Adanne Uche, among us, pioneering that drive towards a self sustaining Africa, across these seasoning domains.

Wishing Adanne Uche and the team the spiciest of times ahead, as they take Ady's Agro Processing Limited into the 53 other African nations, and the diaspora across the globe, who would no doubt come to enjoy and treasure these spice mixes, from Africa's very own.

Phumza Dyani Chief Marketing Officer - Pan African Network for Investment and Dev

“Economic growth is only sustainable if all nations have food security,” says Maximo Torero of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Eradicating malnutrition remains a vital goal of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). COVID-19, and climate change have exacerbated the hunger hotspots, and negatively impacted the progress gained by families to escape poverty.

In a study issued in February 2022, the Global Hunger Initiative stated that 45 million people in 43 African nations risked starvation. The Ukraine conflict is exacerbating food supply challenges in several African nations that rely on Russian and Ukrainian supplies. What all these mean is that there is a greater need for creative solutions to solve the imminent food security challenge.

Creating a product that solves a problem, especially a continental challenge, is crucial to the success of the business. Ady’s Agro Processing Limited paid attention and studied the food market, selecting a specific niche for healthy food, resulting in a solid product for a specific target market. Secondly, the founder has selected an offering she has a passion for indicating how this passion has existed since her youth.

The passion will be so important to drive her even in the tougher seasons of the business cycle. This is why she is able to find solutions even when she is met by challenges along the way. Passion is such an important component and will determine the grit the founder will have to keep things going. Other than being impressed with the work applied in the market analysis, I am particularly impressed by how practical Adanne is in the implementation of the go-to market strategy. She leveraged the use of technology for digital

marketing as well as distribution. With this, she already has an ambition to go global understanding the market that exists even outside of Nigeria with many potential customers in the Diaspora.

I love Adanne’s capacity to learn lessons faster because that will place her in good standing in the risks, she will take in future expansion initiatives. She mentions a lesson she learnt about the importance prioritising customer acquisition as well as product refinement before increasing overheads. With this knowledge, she will be able to approach funding and future costs much more effectively.

Olatunji B. Alonge Speaker l Podcaster & Founder - Growth Hive Consulting

According to United Nation’s World Population Prospects, life expectancy from birth for Africa has continuously declined. Apart from amenities deficiencies, a major factor to this, is our diet; what we eat and the quality. We have had more dead foods than living foods since the subtle adoption of foreign culture of preserving foods with chemicals. Ady’s Agro Processing Limited is a voice from our ancestors who lived so long even without the comfort amenities can afford us today because they had good food with a befitting eating lifestyle.

Yes, I have particularly mentioned amenities as I want you to see that it is not a waver for those who have the latest of them when we talk about living healthily and to full old age.

Thank you, Adanne Uche for this so careful and intentional concern for our wellbeing because we need not just a technologically advanced Africa but also a healthy one. Adanne, go ahead and recover as many as can still be recovered but be more outgoing in catching the young Africa while their taste buds have not been swayed by the food that won’t allow them live strong enough to fulfil the vision of making Africa great again. Adanne, you have chosen a good thing to do for us, we are here to support you.

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