How Panicked Mom Becomes Business Owner

By Olamide Babatunde

Seun Sangoleye is Owner of Baby Grubz meals . She started the company
three years ago after she resigned from her banking job. The Network
Engineer shares her story how she turned a panicky situation around
for her Son and many more babies in Nigeria.

Who is Seun Sangoleye

I am a computer scientist, Engineer and I work with Baby grubz
Nigeria and runs it.

How did you start Baby grubz?

When I had my son and wanted to start him on formula. I bought the
first formula which he refused. After this I bought three more which
he still refused. Then I went into panic mode. I started asking
questions from my Mum, my mum in law and women around me. They gave me
conflicting answers and this made me go online. In the course of my
research I discovered there was nothing local about the contents I
found. Most of the results I saw were from Canada, US and I was really
shocked. I decided to do something about this and here I am today.
Like someone told me I am a self-actualized Nutritionist.

Did you get any training afterwards?

Yes, I did get a Unicef training in programming feeding for children
and young infants in conjunction with Cornell University. I have done
several others as well.

How well has this been regarded by mothers since inception?
When I started I had just a few clients, about four five and we have really
grown. By our calculation we have fed about 30,000 babies till date in
Nigeria. Our distributors are currently in 22 states but our growth
has been tasking because I started with #0.00 and I would usually just
ask them to pay into my account and all the money goes back into the
business.

What teething problem comes with running this business?

We ship close to a tonne every week but our current demand is 3
tonnes. People pay and we ask them to wait and ration out the
products. So yes, we have grown but can still do more. Our challenge
is in meeting up with the demands largely due to Finance.

I can see now that you have variants, did you come out with this from
the onset or it is part of growing?

I started out with ready to eat meals not our current range of
products. For babies 3-6 months, 8- 10, toddler snacks. We had
recipes of local meals. At a time the production process became too
difficult since I made it all the meals myself. Every thing had to be
fresh and delivered frozen. Most of the mothers were workers. The
stress was really much and becoming expensive to keep up with since I
use organic foods. The local organic farmers aren’t much and I usually
buy all their yields even electricity wasn’t helping and then we had
started getting orders from Port Harcourt and all over. How do we send
frozen food down to these places? It was then I decided to rethink the
production process and this took me close to year.

The range you came up with are they also ready to eat?

Well, yes but I advise that it be cooked for about 3 minutes to kill
any microbes of any kind since you can’t be too careful. The good
thing about this range is that it allows mothers to be chefs. A Hausa
woman can decide to add moringa leaves to her baby’s beans flour or
crayfish or sweet potatoes. It comes in a dry form which makes for
easy storage and longer shelf life. We have recipes we give out from
time to time and our mothers are always experimenting.

What are you doing to get approval by the appropriate food enforcement agency?

We have already embarked on that. You know their requirement is
enormous but we have started ticking some things off our check list.
We have had our food analysis done; all we need to do now is
fumigation report and clinic retainer ship. The only thing holding us
back here is that we need a big factory. So far all the places I have
inspected are not satisfactory. Once we are able to get this we will
get the stamp. All this things cost a lot and you know no bank will
lend you money.

Tell us what you did before venturing into making Baby food

I studied Computer Science in School became a network Engineer. I
worked with top tech, skye bank but took a study leave because I
wanted this to be a proper business.

In the next five years where do you see Baby grubz?

I see it taking over every table. Then its not just a business you
see, its is a social enterprise. It is about every woman out there.
Yes, hunger and passion are the motivating factors because if we do
not do this our children will go hungry. The way we operate, you will
not see our products in the super markets because we want to empower
women with it. All our distributors and factory workers are women, it
is owned by a woman and run by women. If there is a woman who isn’t
working around you tell them to join Baby grubz. This is the vision,
to empower, educate women and to nourish our babies. We were
nominated for the future awards and someone asked if I was a business
woman or an advocate. I say you cannot separate the two. We have
issues in Nigeria and I feel we need to address these problems before
we make money. Usually, at the clinic, doctors tell you to meet your
nutritionist if your baby is mal nourished or whatever, nutritionist
tells you give your baby egg, then what happens when your baby refuses
to take the egg. Where I come in is to teach you more ways than one
how you can feed your babies.

Advise to mothers?

Anytime you want to do anything for or to your baby always seek
professional help. Others may be right but be informed. Know what is
normal so that when you see what is abnormal you will know.

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