As more Nigerians are encouraged to embrace entrepreneurship, Uchenna Eze, the owner of cashew nuts business, Decency Crunchies, shares her experiences with VANTAGE NEWS
In this exclusive interview with Chiadikaobi Ihuoma, the Mass Communication graduate of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, bares her mind on life after graduation and her journey into cashew nuts business.
What motivated you to venture into the cashew nuts business?
After my NYSC, I spent my precious time and resources looking for white collar job in Lagos, so when I could not find any and all my NYSC allowance liquidated, I was forced to come down to the East to join my sister in the Cashew business.
Are you a university graduate?
Yes, I am a graduate. I studied Mass Communication and I have the dream of being a journalist.
Why did you venture into the cashew business despite having a good university degree?
I ventured into the business initially to find an alternative to white collar job that was not forthcoming. Therefore partnering with my sister in her business and trying to add value to what she is doing was part of my motivation. Based on that, I accessed how people packaged the cashew nuts and decided to do something unique and different. People just bottle cashew nuts most often in an unhygienic environment and that’s all. So, I thought about bringing in my expertise into it by branding it in such a way that it will appeal to consumers looking at the bottle. So, that was how I came up with the beautiful branding you see on the bottle.
Cashew business I can say is a very lucrative one when you have enough capital to run it. As you know, cashew nuts is one of the best nuts you can enjoy. Its sweet, healthy and nutritious. It’s a business that if well established can give you regular cashflow for long period as long as it is well managed. Everybody eats cashew nuts, don’t you?
How profitable is the business?
It’s very very profitable when you have a good market and demands come in big quantities. What I mean by good market, is when you have enough customers both here in Nigeria and abroad making demands of your product.
How do you cope with the demands of the business?
It’s all about planning and organizing. Our business value is enshrined in integrity and commitment to consumer needs. So when I get the orders from my customer, I take my time to check the quantity of cashew nuts I’m going to deliver and how long it will take me, and I apportion time to each of them. I try as much to make sure no customer is disappointed in terms of delivery or quality of our product. I don’t accept orders to the extent that we don’t meet up with deadlines. No. I take it one step at a time. And till date, I have always delivered to my promise and bargain with customers.
What has been your most satisfying moment in the business?
I have actually had many satisfying times in the business. The joy in my heart whenever customers call to appreciate our products or services. It gives me sense of fulfilling and satisfaction. I also feel fulfilled that it gave me the opportunity to conquer fear of not being proud of what you do. Yes, initially, I thought that people will mock me for trading cashew nuts after my university education, so being able to conquer that fear that I can now talk about my cashew nuts anywhere and anytime is something I am happy about too. Another satisfying moment is the ability to create my own brand (Decency Crunchies) that differentiates my products from the others. Many people today don’t even know my name, they call me Decency Crunches. It’s gratifying, you know.
Smiles… Life as an entrepreneur is a bitter sweet experience. It can be challenging and also rewarding if you are persistent and passionate about what you do. Bitter because starting entrepreneurship in Nigeria is one of the hardest nuts to crack due to so many taxes, levies and other unwholesome practices here. Then sweet because it gives you this confidence that no matter how the economy turns out to be, when you remember that you have your own business, you smiles. So I am happy and pushing.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your daily life?
Like I said earlier, everything is about planning, I planned it in such a way that even if I start working or gets appointment in other area tomorrow, it won’t affect me at all. It is about setting up a clear strategy and operational plans for your business. So, being an entrepreneur has made me more mature, more enduring and more confident about myself and challenges that come my way.
What are your other ambitions?
Wow… ambitions? I have so many of them ooo( smiles). I still desire to practice my journalism and also own my own beauty world which is what I’m learning now. I dream of taking the Cashew business to a higher level, getting machine and also expanding into the processing of other cash products, like the oil, not just the nuts. The world is limitless and I dream of a bigger tomorrow. Sincerely I am very ambitious, but I take things gently and gradually. No hurry in this life.
How do you cope with advances from male customers?
Smiles… It’s a normal thing that we meet on a daily basis. I don’t mix business with pleasure, so I face my business squarely when it’s time for it. As a matter of fact, I see advances as a normal thing to any lady, so I should not let it affect my business or thinking about the admirer, lol. I try to focus on the bigger picture- my Cashew Nuts business.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
In the next five years, I see my self owing a big show room in different cities where I portray my cashew nuts that people can easily come in and buy. And having bigger partners to export Cashew abroad.
Take us through the cashew nuts line of business
There are chains and stages of Cashew nuts business, some people harvest during the production and store them for sales during the period of scarcity. Others buy and exports to companies that uses the Cashew nuts oil for different purposes. But mine is to process the nuts into finished products for consumption. I may in future extend to.other areas but for now this is where I am. Many others are also into Cashew farms now, it’s all about your income, experience and passion in the business.
How did you come up with the idea of a cashew nut business?
I said it before that it was inspired by lack of white job. But in addition to that I just wanted to do something different from the normal female business of selling feminine things, so I thought of cashew nuts. I thought of my community where Cashew is very common and being hawked everywhere. So a lot inspired the idea.
Your final words..
I can say that owning your own business no matter how small is one of the best decisions anyone can take in life. I started this business just after my service year and to the glory of God it has grown to a good stage. So, I advise every youth to get something doing, no matter how small, because the economy is depreciating on a daily basis. Just look for any business that suits you, like this my cashew business (laughs). It’s nice business trust me.