Entrepreneur series: My Enterprise story of how I made money from selling Peppered snails- Silton foods

Another Entrepreneur series, and who is my precious guest, none other than Anthonia, we met when she contacted me to have some bags made for her and we hit it right off, only saw her that once, but  since then,we have always maintained contact and patronized each other . One unique quality about her is she loves seeing her fellow entrepreneurs progress by intimating them of awards, grants and referring other clients .She also has passion for hleping sex abused children and adults. So when I contacted her to share her entrpreneurial jouney, she didn't hesitate and I got an explosive one. God bless her.You must read to the Very end, am sure your entrepreneurial spirit will receive a kick.  Continue reading ...

PERSONAL PROFILE

My name is Anthonia Ojenagbon, I am the Chief Operating Officer of Silton African Kitchen, a Lagos-based outfit set up in 2013 to provide cutting-edge indoor and outdoor catering services.
I am a recipient of the coveted Federal Government YOUWIN Grant and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Scholarship. I hold a Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management from the Pan Atlantic University.
I am one of the pioneers 1,000 Africans selected for the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurial Programme (by the Tony Elumelu Foundation). I run a support group for sexual abused people.  I am married to Sylvester Ojenagbon.

BUSINESS PROFILE 

Sometime in 2009, l saw an advert in The Punch newspaper indicating that Goldman Sachs, a leading global investment banking, securities and investment management firm, was giving women entrepreneurs scholarship to study at the Pan Atlantic University under the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women's Entrepreneurship Programme. This was to culminate in the award of a Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management. l applied and was given the scholarship.
At the time, I was into millinery – I was making hats and bridal accessories and that was what took me to the Pan Atlantic University. At the first of class, a woman was brought to speak to us about entrepreneurship. As she spoke l was so inspired that l started asking myself if l was in the right business. Prior to that time, l had started a small scale catering business just to be able to make some money. Much of the sale of my products was to members of the church I was attending and because it was not compulsory in the church for women to cover their hair, l was barely making any money from hats. Sometimes, I could not even sell one hat in three months and I was just starting a family.
My husband was working in a church office and needed all the assistance he could get from me. I however was not really able to assist him in providing for the family. So as l listened to the lady speak at the Pan Atlantic University, all l could see was how to take my catering business seriously.
branding
PEPPERLICIOUS SNAILS



 Then someone ordered some snails, but I honestly did not know how to prepare snails. So l went to ask my Pastor’s twin sister, who was selling snails, among other things, in the kiosk on the church premises to teach me how to make snails and she did. That was how I was able to make and sell my first snails.

Now, catering business is one of the easiest businesses to start in Nigeria because there is no barrier to entry and exit. Before I dreamt of going into the business, I always prepared and packed lunch for my husband whenever he was going to work. He would share his lunch with his colleagues sometimes and they all felt I could make it a business. So his colleagues started encouraging me to take it seriously. l did not however want to cook like everyone else or just add to the number of caterers in Lagos. l wanted to be known for something special; l wanted to do something that would distinguish and stand me out, so l started thinking of what l could do differently.

As l pondered and thought seriously about it as the class was going on, an idea just jumped at me: peppered snails! Immediately after, during the lunch break, l started telling my course mates that, apart from hat making, l also sell peppered snails. The response was really encouraging! So on my way home that day, l stopped over at the market, bought some snails, prepared them the next morning and brought them to school to sell. That was how my snail business began.

THE NAME PEPPERLICIOUS SNAILS AND THE IDEA OF SNAILS AS A GIFT

One day a friend of mine ordered some snails to be delivered to someone who was marking her 50th birthday. When she called, she said, “I want to order those your pepperlicious snails.” She then brought ribbons so we could decorate the cooler she brought for us to pack the snails. That was how the name Peppelicious Snails and the idea of giving out snails as gift were birthed.


CHALLENGES FACED

I was excited to start my new business but l did think about the challenges of a new business and product. Throughout the programme at Pan Atlantic University, l was selling snails every day in class and delivering to members of staff who were ordering. So l thought it was going to continue like that. But after the programme, the first challenge l encountered as I wanted to break into the market outside the school environment was that of brand acceptance. The people in my class who knew about the snails had gone their own ways, so marketing the snails to new people was not funny at all. l got nasty comments like “What’s so special about you snails?” or “Sorry we cannot patronise you because your business does not have a name.” l must confess, at this point, l was confused, sad and depressed because l thought l had a wonderful product and selling it would not be a problem. l tried everything l knew about traditional marketing, but it just did not work.

Then in 2011, l got a mail from the Bank of Industry about the maiden edition of the Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YOUWIN). I started the application process but could not complete it because l did not have a business plan. So my number 1 resolution for 2012 was to get a business plan, and l did just that. Fortunately for me, 2012 YouWin competition was for women alone and by the grace of God l was shortlisted among the first 6,000 and finally among the 1,200 women the Federal Government of Nigeria gave grants to for their businesses.

I must say here that YouWin was the best thing to happen to my business because immediately the winners were made public, my business profile just went over the roof. People who had rejected me and my product before starting taking a second look at me and my business. l did not have to beg anyone anymore to buy my snails. Many more people now wanted to taste my Pepperlicious Snails. Our turnover grew by over 500 percent. Then we decided to further rebrand by making a classy box for our snails but the name remains Pepperlicous Snails, ready to eat.

We started advertising in our church magazine, bulletin and newsletter as well as our own social media platforms. Then the orders started coming from other parts of the country and from outside the country. The response has been overwhelming. Today we have high profile clients, ranging from pilots to General Overseers of churches.

THE AHA MOMENT FOR PEPPERLICIOUS SNAILS

The exhibition and presentation of a box of Peppered Snails to President Goodluck Jonathan at an exhibition in Aso Rock to which I was invited as a YouWin awardee in November 2013. It came with a lot of media hype and more customers.
 Anthonia Receiving the YouWin award from Ex- President Jonathan

Anthonia Receiving the YouWin award from Ex- President Jonathan

TEEP BOOTCAMP EXPERIENCE

The Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurial Programme organized a 3 day boot camp for the 1000 Africans selected from 51 African countries and it was held at Covenant university Ota Ogun state. I was indeed an awesome time of learning great entrepreneurial insights and networking. Speakers like mr Rasheed Olaoluwa managing director bank of industry , Adewale Ajadi producer of Dawn in the creeks, Angela Aneke and a host of other speakers. One thousand entrepreneurs from 51 countries gathered together in one place to chart a new course for African entrepreneurs.

I met entrepreneurs from other African countries, l met some noted individuals and l also had the opportunity to network and rub minds with other entrepreneurs. I will also like to recommend entrepreneurship to any housewife, no pimyt staying idle.


 Tony Elumelu at the Teep boot camp

With Tony Elumelu at the Teep boot camp

HIGHEST AND LOWEST POINT

My lowest point was when l was trying to get clients to believe in our products and services and my highest point in business so far was the day l attended an exhibition in Aso rock and presented a box of peppered snails to the then president of Nigeria President GoodLuck Jonathan.

BEST ADVICE

The best advice l got when l wanted to give was that to create significance you have to think long term and not short term as an entrepreneur and that hard work does not kill.

ROLE MODEL

Mr Tony Elumelu

Mrs Ibukun Awosika

FUTURE PLAN

To have branches in major cities of Nigerian as well as in London.

DRIVING FORCE

To be a blessing. On the last day l want God to tell me ‘Well done’ for being an inspiration to someone. l want someone to look at me and say, “l almost gave up but decided not to, after I heard your story,” or “I was about to give up but decided not to, when I remembered your story.”

WORD OF ADVICE

  • The journey of entrepreneurship is not an easy one. To be a successful entrepreneur you have to think long term and not short term.
  • You have to be disciplined and learn to make sacrifices.
  • Hard work is very important because there is no short cut to real success.
  • Integrity is key in business, as the long term gains far outweigh the momentary gains lack of it may bring. You must always think of the consequences of any action and learn to minimise your mistakes.
  • Implement your dreams and stay focused no matter what. It won’t be an easy route but you just have to remain focused.
  • Above all, get God involved.

OTHER INTERESTS

Apart from catering l also run a support and counselling group for sexually abused people being a survivor myself. We offer counselling and support to people who have never spoken out about their abuse because we believe that total starts from talking to people who understand and will not judge or condem you. We also offer counselling to people who have ldentity crisis as a result of sexual abuse.
We believe it is easier to prevent sexual abuse than repair and emotionally battered person.

Contact:
Anthonia Ojenagbon
Silton African Kitchen
+234 (0)8098987884, 07018456607

Christina
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Comments

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