…How woman saved family from poverty vending akara
BY VERA WISDOM-BASSEY
If there is anybody who looks down on akara (bean-cake) as one of the most uneconomical local snacks, hold that thought. A chat with akara sellers will definitely change your mind.
Locally made akara is free of so many things except great taste. It is a deep fried Nigerian snack made with ground brown and white species of beans.
A popular snack that can be eaten anytime of the day, although akara is popular as breakfast meal, it can also be eaten as a dinner, as long as it is eaten with pap.
Akara business is a goldmine waiting to be explored by serious investors. Meanwhile, there are some local entrepreneurs who are eking out a living from it. One of such people is Mrs. Susan Ozoemenam.
According to her, she heard a divine call to delve into the business, after making an in-depth enquiry about it. After she had lost a lot of capital doing clothing business, she is making ends meet from her current business. She enthused: “After leaving my wrapper business, today I praise God for what I have achieved so far.”
She added that the business does not involve much money. And in one year she had done great exploits in the business, thus surmounting the challenges confronting the family.
“When I started this business, it was on credit, the oil, beans, pan were all on credit. I started with two cups of beans, then it grew beyond my expectation. I started last year at Maza-maza here in Lagos State.
“On this particular day, as I was heading for the shop, I heard a voice saying, akara!!! I looked everywhere but there was no voice, the next time, I heard it
business. Do you know that some people are comfortable with little things they have? Such people, you don’t expect them to have interest in expanding their businesses,” he stated.
Demand for akara is high in Nigeria, because customers want fast cheap meal, a food that has almost all the nutrients. It contains protein from the bean itself, has oil which is used in frying it. Like Mrs, Ozoemenam, anybody into the business of akara could easily make a fortune. The ingredients and utensils required are locally produced. The bean is planted mostly in the north central part of the country. Palm oil and pepper are seen in the South-West.
Ayorinde continued that the business can be improved on. “The business can be improved on in the local market. There are numerous fast food spots that have opened sprung up in the country. A lot of people crave for local meals in a modern style. If one can fry akara just to supply to the fast food spots, the person will make money. The customer base of the business will improve. Then imagine supply more than one outlet. This can only be achieved if the vendor improves the taste and style of the akara; vegetables can be added. It will make it more pleasant to the eyes.”
One of the challenges akara business has is preservation. The snack is preferred hot and fresh. If there are leftovers, then the vendor has to take it home to be consumed by the family members or throw them away.
“There was a month I was not selling, at the end of the day, I would carry them back home and the children have a good feed on it,” Mrs. Ozoemenam lamented.
Other challenges she encountered includes the local task force extortion. She bitterly complained of countless teams posing as Lagos task force team with the aim of claiming money from her.
“Well, part of the problem is the alaye boys, those who I made payment to, after a while other groups would come demanding more money, just like that. There are different groups requesting for money,” she lamented.
Akara business is economically empowering, either in the local or international markets. It is a venture that requires low start-up capital and yields more than average income. The business allows entrepreneurs to be independent. And it enhances the standard of living of a family.
In the case of Mrs. Ozoemenam, she started the business to support the husband by shouldering some of the household expenditures.
“I will advise full-time housewives, to get engaged in something meaningful which will assist the family and eke out a living, because today, I don’t lack money, the akara business has assisted in putting food on my table, even for the whole family. The business is sustaining us,” she stated.
In the international market, there is still more gap to be filled. Outside Nigeria, there are thousands of people salivating for their indigenous meal and are ready to pay for it.
Foreign beans might not be favourable for it. Therefore, the local bean is preferred.
Source : SunOnline