Success can sometimes be found in the most unexpected places. It could lurk in detested and pitiful areas, and is then only achieved by those who have the guts to ignore all the pain and shame that comes with the process, and remain focused till they strike gold.
This type of success resonates hope for people who run odd businesses or side-hustles, and feel they’re only spinning in circles with no hope of real success to eventually come their way.
This is the success story of Ayodeji Megbope, a moi-moi (bean cake) seller who hustled against all odds to eventually grow a successful business with a turnover of over N38,000,000 a year!
The Early Work-Life of Ayodeji Megbope
Ayodeji Megbope who tried a couple of times to gain admission into the university but failed, was a trained confidential secretary, who worked at the Corona Schools in Lagos, Nigeria, for nine years. After working with Corona for so long, she decided to quit her job to start a playgroup.
To achieve this, Ayo Megbope signed up for a Six Months Montessori Program to understand everything about the business, but by the time she completed the program, she has lost total interest and was no longer motivated to run a play group, because according to her, it was no longer exciting.
To keep herself busy, she started cooking for her sister-in-law. She would make all kinds of meals from soups to stews and a lot more.
One day, she and her husband were down to their last one thousand Naira. “That day, I said to my husband there is no food for the children to eat when they come back from school. My husband said to me, Ayo, I believe in you. He gave me that one thousand naira and said I know you’ll multiply it.”
“My husband then went off to work and I cried and said, God, what will this one thousand naira do for me, then I heard God say to me, Ayo, today go to the market and buy beans. I got to the market and I bought beans, and I heard God say, today, it is moi-moi.”
“I made moi–moi that day and my sister-in-law came just to visit in the evening, she entered the house perceiving the aroma of the moi-moi and she asked me, Ayo, what’s cooking?”
“The first thing that came into my mind, was to tell her, it was coming from the house next door, but I remembered that woman of God, who the Man of God told to make a little for me, and she said, all I have is for my son and I to eat and die.” That was how she told her sister in-law she cooked moi-moi, then she asked to have a taste, after which she said wow! This is nice. “Ayo, can you make for me, and she said, yes, aunty.”
“How much should I pay you, she said, I said, I made it with one thousand naira. Without thinking my sister in-law gave me one-thousand naira to make moi-moi the next day.”
The next day, I went to the market again, made moi-moi for her, gave her a bit and still had a lot more, so I gave to my neighbours. That was how the calls kept pouring in “who made this moi-moi?
Her sister in-law friends tasted the moi-moi and loved it, and asked for her reference and everybody started calling, can you please make moi-moi for us?
In about three months from selling her moi-moi to family and friends, her monthly turnover was already between 30,000 to 40,000 Naira.
At this point, she realised she was on to something and had to maximise her profit margins, since the best way to succeed in any business would be to have a high turnover.
At this point, finding a place to grow her trade became difficult. So after thinking about it, she decided to step outside her comfort zone, such as family, friend and church and go to her former place of work, to see if she could sell them some of her moi-moi.
According to her, she said; “I would show up in my rickety Peugeot Car, with wraps of moi- moi in a cooler. I would stand at the school gate, and begin to call each parent by their first name or their children’s names, and attempt to sell them moi – moi. They were used to seeing me in skirt or trouser suits, but were now seeing me in Ankara outfits. It was an embarrassing experience. They were like, shebi we told you not to leave Corona School, but you did, see what you are selling now. moi-moi. This is bad….but I sold still”
But as soon as they started patronising her and buying her moi-moi, they started requesting for other delicacies like meat, stew, soups, and a lot more.
Her Big Break
At this point, Ayo could not really account for what she was making because she kept no real records, despite her revenues growing. Then she read in the newspapers that a United Nations team was coming to Nigeria to invest in women-owned businesses. It was a partnership between Goldman-Sachs and the Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) at the Pan Atlantic University, to empower about 10,000 women entrepreneurs.
Every participant was required to write and submit an essay. Ayo Megbope did that by simply writing what she was doing, which was selling and hawking Moi-Moi in front of a school.
The 5-months long program opened her up to information she wish she had known a long time ago. It showed her how to structure her business, organise her finances, build great communication skills, and improve her customer service experience.
The Growth and Expansion of Her Business
By the end of the program, her business, now called No Left Overs Nigeria Limited, experienced a major overhaul. She opened a bank account, hired nearly 50 staff, including temporary workers, and got her accounting right. She went from a one-product business to becoming a full-on catering outfit, servicing over 1,000 people.
Her moi-moi sales in one week alone, was now able to pay her staff salaries in a month, and this was a major milestone.
Within a year from her time at the Goldman Sachs Training done in partnership with the Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) at the Pan Atlantic University, she was finally able to purchase a delivery van.
Her Achievements Today
Ayo’s success was so remarkable that she was invited to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Goldman Sachs, and was also on the panel of the Turkish Prime Minister’s Global Summit on Entrepreneurship, and has held meetings with former American First lady Michelle Obama and Former American President Bill Clinton.
To Sum It All Up
Ayodeji Megbope is an inspiration to entrepreneurs who run odd businesses and feel they’re wasting their time. She has shown that no matter how petty a startup’s products and services may be, positioning your business at the right place, with the right price, and constantly improving your knowledge, will set you up for success.
When you are convinced that what you offer is yours, whether it be mediocre or of standard quality, your originality will make people love you in a way you did not expect. ― Michael Bassey
Do not go by my humble beginnings. Be wary of my enormous vision.― Manoj Arora,