Seasoned businesswoman and MD/CEO of OOK Group Nigeria Limited, Omolara Svensson who has made a name for herself as one of the frontline exporters of Nigeria’s agricultural products, recently revealed how operating a Nigerian restaurant in Sweden birthed her passion for agri-business.
Svensson said this during a symposium organised by her company, which the themed of the event was, “Redirecting The Youths And Women To Opportunities In Agriculture And Agri-Business Industry In Nigeria,” held at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Oyo State.
She recalled that, while she was in Sweden, she opened the first NigerThe themed of the event, “Redirecting The Youths And Women To Opportunities In Agriculture And Agri-Business Industry In Nigeria,”ian restaurant called, ‘African Way Cafe,’ where she was exposed to the regular foods, Nigerians don’t take seriously.
Speaking further, she added that, she had realized that, opportunities abound in the agricultural line of business, hence her decision to delve into agri-business professionally.
She disclosed that, her company went from having over 10 trucks to no trucks in the space of 12 months, as a result of terrible conditions on Nigerian roads and insecurity, which could only be provided by the government.
Recalling how she started her firm, Svensson stated that OOK group started in Sweden in 2003 as African way Café,
She noted that, it was the first of its kind in Sweden serving not just Nigerian delicacies, but also delicacies from all West African countries.
She explained that, she started bringing food items from Nigeria and Ghana into Scandinavia, not only for the café but also shipping to African individuals in other Scandinavian countries, adding that, she was exposed to the role Africa plays in feeding the world.
Svensson reiterated that, the country itself also has no understanding of the enormous wealth, they could generate from agriculture and agribusiness, hence, no bank or investment outlet listened to me or even take a look at my proposals, adding that everyone was fixated on crude oil.
Gradually, the reality and challenges started coming in; from a lack of conducive business environment to a lack of human capital. Looking back now, I must say it took a lot of strength and determination for OOK Group to have come out of it all and still be standing tall. Not only have we come out of all these trials today, but we have also come to realise that problems are part of growth and we as a company and I as an individual see our challenges as an opportunity for us to do better in all we do.”
In addition, speaking on the topic: ‘Opportunities in Commodity export’ at the symposium, Agric Export Expert, Olarenwaju Nwankwo said that Nigeria’s economy would grow at a faster rate if more Nigerians could develop abilities to discover opportunities in the exportation of agro-allied products.
She posited that more women should be encouraged to sharpen their entrepreneurship skills.
She said that, Nigeria wasn’t taking advantage of the opportunities in agro-export enough and that was why, she would want to encourage, especially Nigeria’s women to explore those grounds.
Mrs Okonkwo observed that, there were many commodities Nigerians were doing very well in their exportation in the past but today, they didn’t take them seriously again.
She said that, Nigeria used to be the number one in cocoa exportation in the world but today, they were not even in the top three and the demand for cocoa in the world market hadn’t dropped.
She therefore disclosed, that there were quite huge markets for yam, maize, cucumber and tomatoes both locally and internationally, which more women could key into .