IDEA, PASSION, NOT MONEY, MAKE BIG BUSINESS, -ADEGBILE, ROYAL SPICES CEO
The story of Royal Spices, one of Nigeria's big player in the catering and events management industry and its Chief Executive Officer, Dr. (Mrs) Olufunmi Adegbile, is a testament to how a small undertaking can be grown into a multi million Naira business without as much as a kobo investment, except a vision and passion.
Fed up with its tiresome and traumatic schedule, Adegbile, wife of Dr. Demola Adegbile, a marketing expert and Director at the Nigerian Investments Promotion Commission, who pastors the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Jesus House in Ibadan Oyo State capital, had called it quits with her banking job 21years ago and started a partnership in out-door catering services with two of her close friends.
Her entry into the industry in Ibadan revolutionized the industry in these parts, in terms of quality of menu, packaging and presentation, such that her services became hotly sought after in Ibadan and its environs.
The secret? Adegbile explains: 'I was actually motivated into the business because I saw an opening and just wanted to fill the void.
It wasn't that I dreamt big when starting. I just realized that when I went to parties, I saw a lot of mismanaged events, poor presentation of food which I believed could be better packaged. I asked why food couldn't be cooked for 1,000 people and it would be as tasty as that cooked in the house for only four people. Because of this, I rarely ate when I found myself at parties. It was a time when people used iron tables, most times rusty and the food would be served on them like that. We believed the tables could be covered without the legs showing so the guests could have good appetite for food.
Later, the partnership dissolved and Adegbile went solo, adopting the name Royal Spices and embracing the full spectrum of events management. The University of Ibadan (U.I) Ph.D holder in Educational Management disclosed that she virtually started from the scratch without any capital of her own. Her words: 'I started with nothing. Really, you don't have to have capital to start a business, it is the idea. When we began, we used to go to rent plates, cutlery and cover clothes from U.I and this is from the money we took from the clients, until we were able to build our own stock.
Today, Royal Spices, which is involved in private and corporate catering services, events planning and fast food services, has outlets in high brow Bodija and Mokola areas of Ibadan. It also has presence in Ikeja, Isheri and Gowon Estate, Ipaja in Lagos. The outfit, which recently opened its multi million Naira production centre in Ibadan is also the official function organizers and caterers for some state governments including Niger, Oyo and until recently Ogun as well as numerous corporate organizations and institutions.
The bran behind the food giant, Dr. (Mrs) Adegbile enthused that the production centre, which was commissioned by the wife of the Oyo State Governor, Florence Ajimobi would be the base from which rich, local, albeit specially packaged food, would be distributed all over Nigeria and even beyond. 'These have been 20 years of God's faithfulness. Our vision is to move a level higher, packaging our local food such as roasted plantain and taking them for consumers abroad. We want to see them on local store's shelves in America, Europe. We want to have our yam pottage (asaro elede) in bags and cans and taken to troops in war fronts- Afghanistan, Iraq etc and they'll still be fresh. That's my vision', she said.
Adegbile, who was reluctant to disclose the worth of the business, but offered that each of the branches gulped about N26 million to take off, said she felt fulfilled. She described the job as exciting, challenging and humbling. 'It's a call to service and is very humbling, because you are obliged to ensure that everyone is satisfied. And you'll agree it's not easy to satisfy people, so you've got to know how to manage them with humility and understanding'.
Adegbile thanked her husband, Demola, who, she acknowledged, had seen a pillar of support and who had endured inconveniences of her absence, whenever duty took her out of town. Pastor Steve Adedoyin, who dedicated the Ibadan production centre, remarked that 20 years was an important milestone in the life of a business, considering that statistics had shown that 80 per cent of start-ups do not last five years, while 90 per cent never attain 10 years.
He prayed that the Royal Spices brand would outlive its proprietor just as the universal Coca Cola did its producer. Mrs. Ajimobi expressed delight at the increasing multiplication of the outfit's outlets, praying that it would also soon establish presence in Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Ring Road and GRA in Ibadan.