Redrick PR is proud to recognise 14 SMEs with high growth potential as part of its annual “14 Brands We Love” campaign. It is an initiative that aims to showcase highly prospective brands in Nigeria. This stems from our need to appreciate companies and their CEO’s for their exemplary efforts in promoting the private sector.
As a founder of an SME, with an understanding of the challenges businesses face in this terrain to thrive, this campaign is of personal importance. These 14 CEOs are inspirational, building sustainable businesses by implementing the right structures and processes, providing a template that we can all learn from.
According to PWC, “The SME sector is the backbone of major developed economies, as well as important contributors to employment, economic and export growth. In Nigeria, SMEs contribute 48% of national GDP, account for 96% of businesses and 84% of employment. Small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria have contributed about 48% of the national GDP in the last five years. With a total number of about 17.4 million, they account for about 50% of industrial jobs and nearly 90% of the manufacturing sector, in terms of number of enterprises.”
The 14 brands selected in this year were chosen for their innovative ideas, dynamism, motivation and ambition to push the private sector revenue generation potential in Nigeria and promote entrepreneurship amongst Nigerian youth.
The 2019 “14 Brands We Love” are: DO.II Designs, Dolphin Swim School, Ecoprune, Easy Shop Easy Cook, Fibre, Forthworth Farms, Hans and René, ILÉ EROS, Lagos Food Bank, LuLu Lingerie, Paystack, ReelFruit, So Fresh and Wilson’s Lemonade.
To the chosen 14, well done and keep up the good work!
DO.II Designs | Ifeyinwa Ighodalo
Ifeyinwa Ighodalo, an Accountancy graduate of University of Nigeria, Nsukka, set up DO.II Designs in 2012, after working 25 years in Design Options Ltd- a company that spearheaded indigenous furniture manufacturing, which she co-founded in 1987. DO.II Designs is a one stop shop that locally manufacturers home and office furniture for the corporate, hospitality and residential markets. In April 2019, DO.II opened an over 1300m2, first of its kind, four floor furniture showroom in Victoria Island.
Under Ifeyinwa’s vision and leadership, DO.II has been honoured with two Interior Design awards in 2012 and 2014 as well as the African Property Award. She is the proud recipient of the 2010 International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC). She is a founding member of WIMBIZ and currently sits on the Board of Trustees of WIMBIZ and IDAN, the Interior Designers Association of Nigeria.
Dolphin Swim School | Aderoju Ope-Ajayi
Aderoju Ope-Ajayi is a certified Swim instructor, Lifeguard and Coach who started Dolphin Aquatic Center & Dolphin Swim School, which provides women and children only swim lessons taught by trained and certified instructors in a safe and secure environment in an array of programs ranging from beginners to advanced.
She has been swimming since her childhood and has won gold medals in the Nigerian University Games and the West African University games representing the University of Lagos. She also functioned as one of the Accredited FINA Swimming Officials during the All African Games.
In the last decade, Aderoju has invested in her swimming development and gathered an impressive collection of swimming certifications, to ensure she delivers the best swimming education to her students. She was also the winner of the WIMBIZ Impact Investment competition 2017 where she received seed funding towards the achievement of her business goals and objectives.
In October 2018, Aderoju was selected as Top 30 out of the Top 50 African Entrepreneurs for the African Entrepreneurship Award. She further went on to be among the winners in the AEA with a Multi-Thousand Dollar grant.
Ecoprune | Wunmi Ogunde and Sandra Onwuekwe
Ecoprune was co-founded by Wunmi Ogunde, an engineer who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Automatic Control Systems Engineering from the University of Sheffield, and Sandra Onwuekwe, a Medical Doctor who volunteers with NGOs advocating causes concerning the environment, youth, public and women’s health. Ecoprune is a social enterprise promoting waste recycling in Nigeria and was founded in May 2017.
Wunmi is a member of the Recycling Association of Nigeria, an associate member of WIMBIZ and a sub group committee member of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group. She is also a Mandela Washington Fellow. While Sandra is an Ambassador for GirlHub Africa – a global network of change makers contributing to peace and development through volunteering. She is a 2016 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur, 2017 UNLEASH Talent and Winner of the Lagos Small Business Summit Pitch 2018.
Easy Shop Easy Cook | Saudat O. Salami
Saudat O. Salami is the Founder/CEO of Easy Shop Easy Cook, the foremost multi-platform fresh grocery delivery company in Nigeria that provides domestic support services to working professionals through technology.
Her platform partners with various corporations that understand the importance of employees maintaining a healthy work and life balance which greatly enhances productivity and creates a conducive and inclusive workplace.
She is an African Women Entrepreneurship Corporative Alumna, United States IVLP Alumna and Vital Voices Grow Fellow. She is an Associate Member of WIMBIZ (Women in Management, Business and Public Service), WEConnect International, Nigerian Association of Small And Medium Enterprises, Institute of Logistics Management of Nigeria and a volunteer for various charity organizations.
Fibre | Obinna Okwodu
Obinna is the CEO of Fibre. Fibre is the most secure and convenient online platform that Nigerians can find and pay for rental accommodation. In a rental market where it takes over 200 days to find a home and customers have to pay up to two years rent in cash upfront, Fibre vets homes and makes it possible for young professionals to find these homes in under 7 days and pay more conveniently. Prior to starting Fibre, Obinna worked as an analyst in Morgan Stanley’s Real Estate team in New York. He holds a dual degree in Civil Engineering and Management Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Forthworth Farms | Ifeoluwa Ariyo
Ifeoluwa Ariyo is the Co- Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Forthworth Farms Limited. She has a B.Sc in Accounting from Lagos State University, Nigeria and is also a Certified Chartered Accountant with ACCA and has a dual degree in Applied Accounting from the University of Oxford Brooks, United Kingdom. Ifeoluwa is an entrepreneur who has carved a niche for herself in the Farming Industry. Her love for animals and desire for excellence gave birth to Forthworth Farms Limited.
Hans and René | Tayo Bolodeoku
Tayo Bolodeoku, known fondly as Mrs B is the founder of Nigeria’s leading gelateria and baked goods brand, Hans and René, established in 2010. The ‘made in Nigeria’ brand has since expanded from one flagship store to creating five other outlets with a growing team of over 100 members of staff. The pastry chef received her qualification from the renowned Le Cordon Bleu and boasts several other qualifications including a Masters of Business Administration from Webster University in London. She is motivated to run a leading business and keeps acquiring the skills to do so.
ILÉ EROS | Chef Eros
Tolu Eros popularly known as Chef Eros earned a BSc. (Honors) degree in International Business Management from the University of Wolverhampton in 2009 and opened his first restaurant, La Saison in the same year at the age of 21. He is the Founder and CEO of the Cookie Jar Bakery and Executive Chef of Eros and Gourmet Foods. He is the brand ambassador for Shoprite Nigeria and the 1st West African Chef Ambassador for the German premium home appliance brand, Miele. Chef Eros has partnered with high profile luxury organizations and brands such as Maggi Nigeria, Google, Dinner En Blanc and Johnny Walker.
His core competence is not just his passion for food or ability to execute a beautiful meal, but also lies in his creativity, originality and attention to detail. His cooking style combines indigenous ingredients and French cooking methods. Chef Eros recently consolidated all his brands and businesses under an umbrella body, ILÉ EROS (House of Eros) located in Lekki, Lagos.
Lagos Food Bank | Michael Sunbola
Michael Sunbola is a sustainable food-system activist who is a legal practitioner by training and holds a Master’s degree in Law and Arbitration. He is the Managing Principal of Pundit Barristers & Solicitors and a certified mediator of the Lagos Multi-Door Court House.
He founded Lagos Food Bank, an NGO to reduce hunger and malnutrition to the underserved in society, in 2015. Over a million people have been impacted since conception of Lagos Food Bank, across 86 communities within and near Lagos. He has added innovation to his food security approach by collating and distributing to hiring businesses the Curriculum Vitae of the beneficiaries to increase their chances of getting jobs, thus breaking the poverty cycle. Michael is a fellow of LEAP Africa Social Innovators Program and has received recognition from notable National publications and awards for his contribution to community development and poverty alleviation.
LuLu Lingerie | Oluchi Orlandi
Fashion icon, Oluchi Orlandi has over 2 decades of experience in the fashion industry, beginning with her win as Mnet’s Face of Africa in 1998 at the age of 17. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree from New York University and has also been on the cover of Italian Vogue, has walked for Victoria’s Secret and been shot by world renowned photographers like Steven Meisel.
In 2007, she launched a modeling agency in South Africa, called O Model Africa, with the Shine group; an agency dedicated to exposing, developing and delivering select portfolios of African Models to the global fashion scene.
In 2013, she began working on ‘Africa’s Next Top Model’ bringing the prestigious modeling competition TV show and Tyra Banks Franchise to Africa. In 2016, she founded Lulu Lingerie Limited, a leading intimate clothing company based in Nigeria. She has expanded with the establishment of LuLu Personal Care, in 2019; the complementary products are Lulu Sanitary Pads and Lulu Panty Liners.
Paystack | Shola Akinlade and Ezra Olubi
Shola Akinlade, CEO and Ezra Olubi, Chief Technology Officer are the brains behind Paystack, they both hold Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Babcock University.
Before Paystack, Shola co-founded Precurio, an open-source collaboration software for businesses in emerging markets which was downloaded over 150,000 times and made available in 6 languages. Ezra, on the other hand, developed Eyowo, an online payment product; afterwards, he served as CTO of Jobberman and then worked at Delivery Science.
Paystack is a technology company powering payments and growth for business in Africa. Over 25,000 businesses in different sectors use Paystack’s robust suite of payment APIs to collect and transfer on and offline payments securely. Paystack was the first Nigerian company to be accepted into Silicon Valley-based accelerator, Y Combinator, and has raised over $10 million from both international and local investors.
ReelFruit | Affiong Williams
Affiong Williams is CEO/Founder of ReelFruit, with a post graduate diploma in Business Administration from Wits Business School, Johannesburg, South Africa. ReelFruit is a fruit processing, packaging and marketing company founded in 2012. They retail a range of dried fruit and nut snacks through a variety of channels including 350 supermarkets, airlines, schools, hotels and outside the country. ReelFruit won international Women in Business Competition in the Netherlands and earned its owner a listing in Forbes Magazine as one of the most promising ’30 under 30′ entrepreneurs in 2015.
So Fresh Neighborhood Market Ltd | Olagoke Balogun
Olagoke Balogun is the CEO of So Fresh Neighbourhood Market Ltd., Nigeria’s pioneer and fastest growing healthy food chain that offers a wide range of fresh, delicious, nutrient-rich and healthy meals.
Olagoke is committed to inspiring Nigerians to adopt a healthy lifestyle and cultivate healthier eating habits. He believes the choices we make about what we eat, where it comes from and how it’s prepared have a direct and powerful impact on the health and wellbeing of individuals, communities and the environment.
He speaks and teaches about building sustainable organisations through creating the right structures and systems and creating an excellent customer focused organisation. He’s a faculty at the Incubator’s Africa Academy. He’s been invited to speak to entrepreneurs at different fora and platforms such as the Lagos Business School, SESEWA, Do It Afraid Conference among others. Olagoke is a visionary with strong planning, organizational and leadership skills.
Wilson’s Lemonade | Seun & Seyi Abolaji
Seun and Seyi Abolaji own and run Wilson’s Lemonade. Seyi, who graduated from Stanford University and retired from playing professional soccer/football before returning to Nigeria, functions as the CEO and focuses on the finance and operations of the company while Seun, who is a graduate of Emory University and University of Colorado, is the Brand and Sales Director.
Wilson’s is committed to sourcing locally and processing real-fruit based products and has provided numerous employment opportunities for youths and women, who make up over 70% of the workforce, in rural communities across the nation.