The Igwe Twins: Bringing their Mobile Kitchen Dream to Reality through Service and Speedy Delivery

L-R: Titus Igwe and Tobias Igwe

I met Afamefuna Titus Igwe at the Ford Foudation’s Youth Dialogue in Lagos last October where he had been nominated by the Fate Foundation to join the fifteen-member panel carefully selected across the country in discussing major issues concerning Nigeria and projecting for the next five decades. Over the course of the three-day programme, Titus showed us a bit of how passionate he was about Mobile Kitchen and making positive impact in Nigeria, especially among the unemployed youth. A few months down the line, the company is still blossoming and today we will explore the various experiences of this young man and Tobias, his twin brother with whom he started this laudable effort in the food service delivery sector of the Nigerian economy.

Titus and Tobias Igwe are 24-year old twin brothers who jointly run Speedmeals Mobile Kitchen, a food delivery services company in Nigeria. They were both undergraduates studying Business Administration at the University of Lagos (Distance Learning Institute) in 2009, when an unfortunate event occurred in their family. On Saturday October 24th 2009, they lost their father, in a car accident and suddenly became saddled with the responsibility of taking care of their mother and seven siblings. After engaging in a few menial jobs, it soon dawned on them there had to be a better way to approach life and achieve their dreams. Less than two years after that fateful day, they have set out on a journey to earn comfortable living by serving others and they are doing this quite well too. In this exclusive interview with BN Editorial Assistant, Gbenga Awomodu, they share their experiences, challenges and aspirations.

Could you tell us more about Speedmeals Mobile Kitchen?

Speedmeals Mobile Kitchen is a proudly Nigerian, world class food and services company of choice located in a serene environment at the heart of Apapa GRA in Lagos. At Speedmeals, working with the most sufficient technology in food processing so as to improve the lives of our customers is our primary motive. It is a registered food and services company that cooks and supplies food to schools and corporate organisations. With an annual turnover of three million naira in 2010, our company is driven by the knowledge that customers know and trust our services. Our food is produced from the finest ingredients with passion and pride. In 2010, we were declared the overall winner of Samsung Real Dreams initiative by Samsung West Africa. The future is bright for Speedmeals!

How did you start Speedmeals?

In 2009, after the sudden death of our father in an accident, we searched for jobs desperately to fund our studies at University of Lagos and also to assist our mum and seven younger siblings. After six months of no success, we decided to start up something on our own. We learnt how to make cakes and other snacks, but not with the mindset of establishing our own company. A friend, one day, advised me (Titus) to apply for the Samsung Real Dreams programme to learn how to manage a business. Tobias also attended the training in another stream. The rest, they say, is history. So far the success we have recorded has been overwhelming.

Did it require a large start-up capital and how did you obtain the start-up capital?

Really, all what is required is the will and determination to succeed. However, we also had to make some sacrifices. We used our school fees, what was left after our father’s burial, to start up, but unfortunately we were not able to recoup it so we had to apply for deferment, thus adding another one year to our undergraduate studies. It was really hard then; even to pay for deferment. Titus had to step down his education while I (Tobias) continued. We have learnt that business doesn’t just move. Titus is now enrolled in a Diploma programme (English for Professionals) after which he hopes to have an Executive Diploma in English for Professionals… While my brother does the operations, especially the cooking, I (Titus) also want to bring in something different. Tobias just concluded his 200 Level at the UNILAG Distance Learning Institute and, though we have several certificates baking cake, we plan to go for more professional trainings and even obtain a degree in Nutrition. Our three watchwords: Hygiene, Professionalism and Speed!

Which companies are your major competitors?

We don’t see other food vendors as our immediate competitors. Our biggest competitors are the local food vendors popularly called “mama put”. They control the larger part of the market.

What sets your company apart from your competitors?

We guarantee speedy delivery, professionalism and excellent customer service. This is what makes us different from others. With Speedmeals, expect no delays!! At Speedmeals, we understand what it means to be different; to be the leaders and set the pace for others to follow and to fill the vacuum that others have created. This is why we are always on point to meet the needs of our numerous customers. It’s so much more than what you think; we are excitingly different and unique! We know Speedmeals is not just about us.

What are your future plans for your company?

Our vision is “To be the most sought after food vendor brand in Africa with a global competitive edge”. We are going to be working with professional brand strategists and nutritionists. Tobias does the cooking, cake making, etc., while I (Titus) do more of the management. We currently have five contract staff that we pay on weekly basis, but we hope to expand our operations very soon. In the next five years, Speedmeals food should have been eaten by everyone in Lagos. Near every ‘mama put’, you should see a Speedmeal mobile kitchen. Most of the food sold by the local vendors is often prepared under unhygienic conditions. We are going to be employing professional nutritionists, taking Lagos as our primary market; then we’ll spread out to other states. We want to revolutionize the food sector in Nigeria and open up a new page. We are thinking of an enlightenment campaign to educate people on the importance of healthy eating. We do not intend to just put the ‘Mama put’ out of job; we are looking at selling them franchises and helping them to learn to be better service providers in the long run. If you want to remain relevant in the market, you know you have to step up.

L-R: Osayi Oruene Alile (Executive Director, Fate Foundation), a Samsung Representative, The Igwe twins (Speedmeals) and Timi Adamolekun (Brand Manager, Corporate Marketing, Samsung Electronics West Africa) during the presentation of Best SRD project Award to Speedmeals Mobile Kitchen by Samsung West Africa.

What other things are you presently doing to achieve your futuristic objectives, especially helping unemployed youth?

In June 2010, we introduced the Speedmeals Academy as a subsidiary with a vision to train 1,000 youths within one year. In line with this goal, we introduced the Opportunity of a Life Time programme, an innovation to train unemployed youth on how to bake cake and make ‘small chops’ so that they can become self-reliant. We publicize the training in churches, mosques and social gatherings. We provide the facilities and platforms for others to be trained and work hard to ensure that we follow up their progress. There is a foundation programme for those who are very new to the business while the advanced classes are for those who have the basic idea already. Each participant is asked to pay a commitment fee of 2,500 Naira and this helps us sieve for people who would be serious with the skills acquired. In 2010, we trained 62 youth, usually 10 in a class over a period of 6 weeks. Many of them have now started their own businesses.

At the end of the programme, each participant is expected to train 10 other people within the first year after the programme. We encourage them to train others and charge fees as well, no matter how small, to make people show commitment to their training. In conjunction with the Fate Foundation, we are also providing entrepreneurship training for all participants through the Samsung Real Dreams programme, a training programme sponsored by Samsung and the International Youth Foundation (IYF). So far, we have trained sixty-two people in the first phase of the programme and certificates were awarded to them. We also give evaluation forms to participants to assess the quality of the programme and so far so good. The second phase of the programme will start in January 2011 and registration is ongoing. We have also sponsored feeding at a few events, including the last edition of CelebrityRead Africa last month.

What major challenges have you faced so far? How about taxation?

Every business has its own unique problems and challenges. For Speedmeals, I (Titus) think our major challenge now is logistics and infrastructure challenges. The banks too are not helping SMEs in Nigeria. We need more support in terms of training and funding. The company was officially registered in July 2010, after we started unofficially in February 2010. We have been to the Federal Inland Revenue Services and the Lagos Inland Revenue Services for clarifications on tax matters. We are still enjoying the provision for first two years being tax-free and as for income tax, our income is not up taxable income yet as we are using our funds to build the business right now. As an entrepreneur you have to be wise with spending…

What else do you have to say to the numerous young people who are unemployed out there?

I (Titus) believe everybody has talent. Young people should look more inwards and try to find what they can do with their own talent. Inasmuch as there are so many challenges in Nigeria, there are also so many opportunities. They should surround themselves with good people and capitalize on opportunities when they see one. It took me (Tobias) four years to think about this idea. We worked in a company as cleaners for three years, but when we visit the company now, we still see people who were there then greeting us “Good morning Sir”. The flip side of problems is opportunities. We need to think about what we can give to people and not what they ought to give us. The importance of education cannot be over emphasized, but people should not continue to see university education as a meal ticket. University education should not be seen as a gate way to heaven!
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About Samsung Real Dreams

Samsung Real Dreams (SRD) is a Samsung corporate social responsibility initiative, in conjunction with International Youth Foundation, which focuses on innovation and enterprise. The initiative started in 2009 in Nigeria and has partnered organisations, including the Fate Foundation, Afterschool Graduate Development Centre (AGDC) and Pan African University’s School of Media and Communications, to promote technical skills acquisition for young, disadvantaged youths for successful, long-term careers and entrepreneurship.

For more information about Speedmeals Mobile Kitchen, you can visit their website here: www.speedmealsng.com

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Gbenga Awomodu is a freelance writer and editor. He blogs at Gbenga’s Notebook!, a repository of his thoughts and other works.

55 Comments on The Igwe Twins: Bringing their Mobile Kitchen Dream to Reality through Service and Speedy Delivery
  • hautness4sure January 4, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Admirable!!!

  • anonymous! January 4, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    Woop woop! Go twins! They go to my church sacred heart catholic church apapa, we all are extremly proud of them!

  • lizzy January 4, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Nice one…All the best guys.

  • i no too sabi January 4, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    This is really admirable. I hope the young people of Nigeria will read and see the moral of this story. I pray that the good God blesses the efforts of these young men with success.

  • Yuds January 4, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Kudos to being innovative and letting a traumatic event fuel your ambition and drive.

  • Foluke January 4, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Quite inspiring!

    http://www.kachifo.com

  • auntytawa January 4, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    this is good, ilove the idea of people adding positive ideas and things to Nigeria. very admirable!

  • buks January 4, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    quite impressive!!

  • Timma January 4, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Wow! this is very inspiring, I pray this year is more favourable for you guys.We certainly need more hygiene in Lagos when it comes to eateries.keep up the good work.

  • tatafo January 4, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Wow, I am impressed and inspired! I love the can-do yet practical attitude and the fact that despite setbacks you still pushed forward, this is very inspirational to me. Wishing you bigger and better success in 2011. And please keep being humble even as you expand onto bigger and better things.

  • Naijamum January 4, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Truly inspiring.
    Education does not only happen within the four walls of a school. If one embraces new experiences and opportunities, learning and growth happens – as illustrated by the twins.
    They both have enough motivation and determination to excel.
    They will go far. Best of luck in 2011 and beyond

  • NNENNE January 4, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Inspiring! University education, though very important, is just a means to an end but not an end.

    May the good Lord continue to guide and protect you guys, for years to come.Amen!!

  • Reallaw January 4, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Congrats Twins! We will pop champagne at your 10th Anniversary :)

  • Uchechi January 4, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Interesting, wishing you both the best in your business venture.

  • Theresa January 4, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    What makes this story very inspiring is that they trained others as soon as they were trained. Welldone guys, the sky is the limit!

  • sweetie January 4, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Really proud of them, May God continue to bless them abundantly…but wait o, how person go born 9 children…na wa o.

  • Abiola January 4, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    I was very impressed by what these guys are doing and went on their website. However, the link to the most valuable information- the “contact us” page does not work. Please alert them and have them repair the link. They should also consider putting their contact details at the bottom of every webpage. This is a best practice used by most websites, even BN ;)

    • Igwe twins February 28, 2011 at 11:58 am

      Thanks very much Abiola, we have taken note of your comment. we have updated our website. it will be on air from this week! Thanks once again.
      ….Igwe Twins

  • B January 4, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    One word – “Honourable” actually 2 “Inspiring”…..i better go turn my swagggg on :)

  • Mike January 4, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Hustlers,keep hustling

  • D.O.T.M.H. January 5, 2011 at 1:09 am

    Nice

  • shade January 5, 2011 at 7:57 am

    Very inspirational story.

    Kudos to the Igwe twins. By God’s grace their business will grow bountifully and be an inspiration to millions of young Nigerians.

  • Feelitx January 5, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Well done guys. A candle loses nothing in lighting another candle instead it creates more illumination.

  • Miss ATL January 5, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Good job, and best wishes for the future.

  • Nneka January 5, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Extremely Impressive! I love the fact that through their ordeal and through the (typically difficult) startup phase of their business, they still kept formal education as a top priority.

    There is no better backup plan as having a solid formal education pips. Take note.

  • thad January 5, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    AMAZING!!!

  • wow January 5, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Veryyyyyyyyyyyy Impressive.. .may your business continue to grow.. Amen.

  • allen January 5, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    well done!

  • Ujubaby January 6, 2011 at 12:43 am

    I’m very pleased!

  • yetty January 6, 2011 at 12:48 am

    very proud of you both

  • Ibo Omoge January 6, 2011 at 2:16 am

    OMG! I see them in church every Sunday! I remember always looking at them in admiration cos of how very involved they were in church activities. Never knew they owned Speed Meals! God bless the work of your hands o!

  • Stella January 6, 2011 at 5:25 am

    The sky is your starting point wishing success all life in Jesus Name Amen.

  • partyrider January 6, 2011 at 6:38 am

    God bless your hustle.. impressive and inspiring.keep working,the sky is ur starting point..wish u guys the very best

  • real January 6, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Go guys u can do it.

  • Lami January 6, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Brilliant n innovative!! More grease boyz,more grease! Since the country womt fend for us,its best we look out for ourselves..

  • Aibee January 6, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Really? I’m so tripped. Impressive and Inspiring. I pray that Speedmeals will go”PLC” in Jesus name. Keep helping and training others and see how God eill help and lift you too. Good luck guys. If you ever need a lawyer, send me a mail,lol (I’m serious oh).

  • Bisi BusyBee! January 6, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    These are indeed the Pride of Nigeria and Africa. I know them well and I can testify to their passion to development in Nigeria. Love, BusyBee!

  • Bayo January 6, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    Very inspiring

  • Temiloluwa Adebayo January 6, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    I’m impressed. No food for lazy man!

    http://temiville.wordpress.com/

    • jay January 7, 2011 at 2:58 pm

      hi,i just discovered your blog, quite interesting…….how do i comment on your postings , do i have to share on facebook or twitter to do that?

  • Kelechi Nwaeze January 7, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    U guys are really making heads in what u know how to do best i pray the almighty God help u guys and contiune go shower u with blessings. Good luk

  • IJAY January 10, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    WOW GUYS!!!U GUYS DSERVE AN AWARD,A HUGE ONE 2 BE PRESICE.HOW OLD RE U GUYS HUH? 25? 26? I BET U GUYS WOULD CHANGE DE WORLD B4 U RE EVEN 30.KEEP UP DE GUD WORK GUYS ND I PRAY DE ALMIGHTY GOD KEEP STRENGHTIN U AS U MOVE 4M GRACE 2 GRACE. U GUYS HAVE REALLY INSPIRED A WHOLE LOT OF PPLE OUT THERE MYSELF INCLUSIVE. GO GUYS OR IS IT GO TWINS!!!!! LUV WOT YA DOIN.

  • IJAY January 10, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    SPEEDMEAL MOBILE KITCHEN U RE DA BOMB…

  • Steve Ajibi January 11, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    You wonderful twins, hope other young people will learn from your wonderful contribution to the economy and adopt your style of dodgeness to succeed in life. Never hope on the highest national honor/award bcos its not usually given to valuable contributors in this part of the world, Just beleive that God will bless your work and grant your good heart desires. Keep it Up

  • Identicals January 16, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Nice one Twinnies, Keep up the Good work, God is with you.

  • Eldido January 23, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    Well done to these guys! FOOD is our first love at eldido :-).

  • Ifeatu January 30, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Well done! With your energy and determination, I am sure greater things are yet to come.

  • jumee February 1, 2011 at 8:58 am

    I can’t but admire ur determination to improve urslvs and even every one around u .I’m so proud of u guys! The star is ur limit. Keep up d good work. The Lord is ur strength
    !

  • loneky March 11, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Great Guys! Am inspired to start up something, so help me God

  • OPTIMUM SUCCESS June 15, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    My able identical twin, am so much impressed ova this , don’t worry God is alwas on your side. One thing is assured to u guy “SUCCESS”

  • olapeju July 28, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    i’m truly inspired. wish u guys well.

  • angela September 11, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    i cant help but tell others hw strong i think the Igwe twins are after going thru their story.this is a typical story of being resilience,witty n unduobtedly strongminded.may the good lord who started this good work continue 2 bless u guys.Amen

  • Temilola September 7, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Very inspiring and motivating. God’ll continue to prosper you and your family. You shall continue to be bigger and better in Jesus name. Please, how can I contact you, I really need help. I just finished watching you guys on Moments with Month programme and it was interesting and encouraging. I hope to get a reply from u guys soon.

    • April Laugh September 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm

      Hello Temilola you can speak to them on: 08096638815. Cheers

  • Temilola September 7, 2013 at 1:21 pm

    I meant Moments with Mo.

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