EMBA 27 The Export Business

Malobi Ogbechie Written by Malobi Ogbechie · 1 min read >

Exportation is something I fell into over the years. At no point in my childhood did I think that I would become an exporter of goods. More specifically, the thought of exporting goods was never a conversation amongst my peers or family. Now, I have a company that exports fonio, an ancient African grain, to the United Kingdom and my business is doing well. So how did I get here? What is fonio?  Why is export a good business opportunity for individuals, businesses, and the country? I will do my best to answer these questions in the blog

My business originally started as a market stall in London. By that I mean we sold food at local food fairs, vegan fairs, local markets, and other venues. The inspiration came from when I had turned to a vegan diet. For those that do not know what veganism is, it is a movement of individuals that do not eat foods made from animals or their byproducts. Vegans even go a step further by not wearing clothes or items that are made from animals. I had turned to veganism because I did a lot of research on the health benefits and it made a lot of sense to me. It seemed like the healthiest lifestyle for a human being. To be honest I still think it is to this day – if it is done right.

The items we originally sold at the markets were vegan burgers. I had tasted a vegan burger by V Burger, a market stall at Borough Market in London, and it tasted so good, that I had to try recreating it with my own recipes. The first few iterations were really not good until I hired my first chef, and we were able to sell out at a vegan trade show. Those days were very exciting because this was the first time I had been paid for rendering a service to people. It was such a great feeling. Not too many months after, I was speaking with a consultant and I told him about fonio. The consultant told me that this grain could be a differentiator for me. It took me a while to follow his advice. I must admit I was a bit stubborn at first. Who was he to limit my vegan business to just one grain? Now that I have a bit more experience, I understand the importance of having a unique selling point.

Once I pivoted to fonio, everything changed. This highly nutritious, diabetic-friendly grain would change my life moving forward. I was able to make money by bringing it into the UK. Not long after importing it, I decided to move back to Nigeria in order to establish my own supply chain for sourcing, processing, and exporting the grain. Last year I did a ton which was good for me. It is very important for Nigerians to embrace exporting because it can help to stabilize our currency, create jobs, and help the country to be more self-sufficient. All of these are very important if we wish for Nigeria to be a powerhouse globally.

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