Food Business: An All-round Profitmaking Venture

FoodFOOD provides energy to do work. It is one of the most important needs of man. Despite its importance, some people leave their homes early in the morning without eating or not having the time to prepare food.

The reason, most say, is to gain time to get to their workplaces. Knowing this, some business minded people are rising to the occasion, by providing and packaging food for those who could not.

These food vendors, sometimes, move from one place to the other, carrying their stock on their heads, or pushing it in a cart to vantage positions at busy roadsides for their customers to buy.

Apart from this, they have adopted different means to make their package a one-stop meal spots. In their carts or head pans are plates, spoons, bags of sachet water and, even, soft drinks packed in coolers with ice blocks. Some have gone ahead to have the meals in plastic foils, as takeaways for those that cannot eat in the open.

Explaining how he came into the business of selling food, Anthony Chukwuemeka said the idea came when he began to imagine how many people leave their homes very early in the morning everyday without breakfast. “ As I imagined this, I looked up to close the gap and here I am making money.

I know not everyone eats breakfast before leaving home because some have to beat the traffic, so, I targeted them, by taking my food to them and that has really paid off. “

I sell twice a day, 8am to 12 noon and go home and come out again from 4 pm to 8pm. Apart from workers, school children also patronise me. I am like their breakfast, launch and dinner man,” he noted.

Handling two sessions, morning and evening, means he would be a workaholic, as he has to shop for the ingredients and as well do the cooking. Chukwuemeka says things do not work that way, ‘I do not do everything by myself, he continues; I have a wife and two other ladies that help me out.

All I do is to provide the money while they cook and I hawk. “I pay the ladies N1,500 each for the morning and evening meals. They are auxiliary hands to my wife, who sometimes buys the ingredient needed,” he added. Paying N3,000 daily to auxiliary hands shows the business must be yielding enough money to keep him and his family going.

Is he really making enough money? “Yes, selling food brings in good money, he revealed, “I didn’t know this myself until I ventured into it. I sometimes cook a bag of rice and a tin of garri, yet they are not enough for the customers. Food sells like hot cake if you are at a good place.

There are no shortages; I make enough money to cover what I pay my workers, including settling area boys, market or local government officials. I make enough to send my children to private schools, marry and embark on a building project. With food you are lord.”

For Madam Theresa, who hasn’t got the strength to push a food cart from one spot to another, managing a makeshift food joint is her best option.

“I cook variety of food, soup and stew. And irrespective of their quantity, customers finish them before 4pm. “Food is a big business, it’s like fuel that runs our vehicles; so, as every motorists go to the station to refuel, man would always eat in order to remain alive.

This is my 10th year in the business and I have achieved what I could not achieve while working for someone,” she revealed. Disclosing how money-yielding the business could be, Theresa said, “you cannot sell food either as a hawker or in a stationary place and be poor.

It is one of the fastest moving businesses in any city.” Highlighting some of the challenges in the culinary business, she said, “though there is good money in the business, you must be ready to work.

I wake up as early as 4am to start preparing what customers would eat and sometimes go late to bed because one would need to make preparation against the next day.

You must also leave the house early to get the ingredients for the soup. If you do not wake up early to prepare, you might miss the morning segment of the market, which comprises school children and some early-rise workers. “It is not a job one person can do, so I have about three people selling and working with me.

I have to get them because one needs to put in good energy to meet customer’s need, and then, make more money,” she said.

Corroborating Theresa’s experience, Iya Beji revealed that the appealing the food joint is, the tendency to attract more customers.

Running a cozy restaurant near busy market, Iya Ibeji notes that some customers like eating in a place that give them the feel of their homes.

“I make my restaurant look nice, provide TV sets to show movies and soccer. This on its own attracts customers to buy our food. I sell a full bag of garri in three days and a bag of rice a day.” Explaining further on how she has been able to keep her sales high, she said, “I make my customers feel at home, give them delicious meals with the best of services. “I have eight workers –– five service girls and three cooks.

I pay the cooks N2,000 a day, while the service ladies get N1,500. Outside this, they eat their three square meals and do not come on Sundays. “Apart form what I pay, I still make enough for keep. Food business gives the operators good money, so far they have the strength. It is a magic wand to quick money,” she reveals.

For Aunty Sheri, a street food hawker, the culinary business welcomes all classes of people, irrespective of their education background or creed.

The only qualification needed is the ability to cook delicious meals. Starting with N2,500 working capital in1996, Sheri confessed that her savings has risen to over N400,000. According to her, she takes cooked food to construction sites for the labourers to buy.

Speaking on how she started, she said she began by preparing amala (yam flour) and when she raised enough capital she added cooked beans and bread. “The business requires you identify your market.

I know I hadn’t much money to compete with the big players; so, I started from where I had the strength, selling amala and eba with different soups.

“I made three to four times what I put in. I was able to raise enough to add bread and cooked beans, which gave me another advantage,” she added. Advising on how to excel in the business, she said, “identify your market, meet the needs of your customers and the money will flow in like water.

“Food business has no downturn, even if the nation’s economy is going down, food sellers will always sell because man must eat to survive.

It is a business, which if well managed can get all one wants in life,” she noted. Saying the income is elastic, as one decides what she/he wants to earn, Iya Mukaik of Amala Spots said culinary skills and hard work could take any operator to the top. “I started with food hawking in 1990, but my business has grown to a level that I now kill two goats daily.”

On how she generated the money, she said, “I got the money from ‘esusu’ (daily contribution). I got the money for my shop through that means, but in the real sense the money came from the food because I was doing the esusu with the money I got from my daily sales.”

On what keeps her going in the business, she capped, “it’s the money, it’s the money I realised from it that has enabled me train my five children from primary school to the university as a widow.

I now have five graduates and a building. Which government work will give me that type of money under 25 years? I have 10 staff, three cooks and seven service girls and do not buy food.

As I budget for my business, I include my family’s share and, despite these, I record no lose; so, it is all-round profit.”

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