Here on Whoot Africa, we not only showcase brands, but we also talk to the people behind those brands and have them share with us their back stories as well as give tips on how to successfully start and run a business.
Welcome to Whoot Africa’s – 15 Questions with the CEO.
Today, we will be talking with Ehime Eigbe, CEO of Sweet Kiwi Frozen Yogurt Nigeria.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and Sweet Kiwi as a brand you represent?
My name is Ehime Eigbe and I own Sweet Kiwi frozen yogurt. Sweet Kiwi is the premier frozen yogurt brand in Nigeria which started in 2011. Sweet Kiwi makes premium frozen yogurt in a wide variety of flavours.
2. How did you get started in business and what did it take to get to where you are today?
I started out in the US, training and learning how to make frozen yogurt and also how to successfully run a frozen yogurt business. This knowledge was then used to create the ‘Sweet Kiwi’ brand. It has taken us a lot of hard work, dedication and perseverance to get to where we are today
3. Did you know you were going to be an entrepreneur all along, or did it happen by chance?
No I did not. It actually happened by chance. I came across the whole idea of frozen yoghurt and fell in love with it
4. The food and confectionery industry is a capital intensive industry that requires the highest preparation standards and being able to keep up with consumers ever changing taste buds. What are some of your success secrets to building a successful food production platform like Sweet Kiwi?
I would say an eye for detail, having a strong structure and developed policies for maintaining the set standard so you never fall below it. In regards to changing markets, constant research so we keep evolving, staying ahead of trends and changing as our customers’ needs changes.
5. Considering the ever growing demand for healthy option products, as more and more people are trying to manage their weights with less fats and sugar. How does Sweet Kiwi plan to keep up with this trend?
I would like to say we feed the trend. Our products are completely healthy and we keep researching to deliver new healthy product lines. We are about to add a new Oatmeal yogurt product to our menu, as well as a Soya bean based frozen yogurt for our clients who are vegetarians or extremely lactose intolerant.
6. Sweet Kiwi’s product line has over a 100 flavours of frozen yogurt, are there any expansion plans to the product line, stores and franchise opportunities?
Our flavour lines keep expanding, as we develop new flavours monthly. We developed several alcoholic beverage lines last year which include Moet & Chandon frozen yogurt, Veuve Clicquot frozen yogurt and Belvedere vodka frozen yogurt. We will continue expanding our stores to reach more clients and of course kick off our franchise program in 2015.
7. The Nigerian business scene is not for the faint hearted, if you had to sell doing business in Nigeria in a few words to an investor, what would they be?
No guts no glory’ = Fortune favours the brave! You cannot win glory if you are afraid to try!!
8. Looking back, would you relocate to Nigeria to pursue entrepreneurship when you did? And would you encourage those in the Diaspora to do the same? What vital lessons would you love to share when it comes to setting up business in Nigeria?
Looking back, choosing to do business in Nigeria was a good choice. It comes with a lot of baggage and trials so you have to be ready. A lesson I have learnt is to always have a plan and be a good fireman or firewoman as you spend your days putting out fires
9. What is it about Sweet Kiwi that sets your business apart from other confectionery businesses out here in Nigeria? What keeps you and the Sweet Kiwi team motivated? How do you envision Sweet Kiwi in 5-10 years from now?
Sweet Kiwi is a unique concept. It is a healthy treat that is great for the body. We are very brand conscious and treat our customers using the best, healthiest ingredients. We are motivated by our customers; see how happy they are in our space. They make us want to do more and be more. Sweet Kiwi in 5 -10 years will be the biggest frozen yogurt company in Africa.
10. What do you love most about your brand Sweet Kiwi and your life as an entrepreneur?
What I love most, is hearing people talk about it and realizing it has a life of its own. It’s the feeling a mother gets when she sees her child. Life as an entrepreneur is great, I am always thirsty for knowledge and being an entrepreneur allows you feed your knowledge continuously and immensely.
11. What do you think are the most important personal skills someone must have to be successful in business?
Diplomacy, Strategy, vision, timeliness and most importantly passion
12. Who was the most influential person or mentor in your life?
13. What was the BIGGEST risk you’ve taken?
Doing business in Nigeria.
14. What do you think about college education? Should kids go to college now or get into business if they feel it’s a better choice? Considering some of the world’s greatest never had college education, your thoughts?
I think college is very important. When you are young there’s so much you can be or think you are sure you want to be. College helps integrate you into life and helps you discover your true passions. You get to do various things while discovering what you really like to do. College is a great place for learning how to be social and network; it is hard to do business if you do not have good social skills.
15. What would be the most important piece of advice you could give to young entrepreneurs and why?
‘Deep roots are not reached by the frost.’ Start your business with a good foundation and do things the right way. There is no short cuts to success, young people want everything now and therein lays the problem; Building a strong business takes time especially in this environment. It is hard but not impossible, when things are done correctly from the start, when trials come as they always will, your foundation will withstand the storm.
If you missed the previous parts of the 15 Questions with the CEO series, please click here
Photo credit – Ebony Life TV