Every new week is another period for Favour Adeleke to attend to two things that matter the most to him – his academics and running the affairs of Qiqi Farms. Both endeavours are demanding and time-consuming, but somehow, the young entrepreneur has managed to crack the code when it comes to juggling entrepreneurship and his studies. Many student entrepreneurs are still striving to find that balance.
Unlike some of his peers, Favour has made enormous sacrifices and has swiftly adopted a lifestyle that ensures the success and scalability of his agriculture business. For a young undergraduate studying Computer Science at one of the country’s universities, this is no mean feat.
Favour is a firm believer in the youth and their capabilities and is of the opinion that students and young people, in general, have so much to offer in the society. “Youths should see themselves as people that are ready to add value to the lives of others; to solve problems rather than always being dependent on people.” Armed with this mindset as one of his motivating factors, he ventured into agricultural entrepreneurship in 2020 with a N10,000 loan from his late mother.
Although his late mother was in full support of his entrepreneurial journey, she also wanted him to take his studies seriously. When asked the question of why he decided to study Computer Science, Favour responded, “The goal is to use the knowledge to build products or machines that can help the agric industry, [for instance] to build products that can help poultry farmers understand the dynamics of their poultry birds so they can quickly mitigate risks such as diseases and save huge amounts of money.”
From his visits to the hospital while his family was going through tough times, it dawned on the young founder that eating healthy and organic foods could go a long way in improving people’s well-being. Qiqi Farms is a fast-growing brand that is solely in business to provide families across Nigeria with fresh farm produce. “We are ensuring that we deliver value-added products to Nigerians at an affordable price. People spend their money buying food products that will eventually affect their health because some of these foods are laden with chemicals that are not good. Imported foods are mostly preserved with toxic chemicals. At Qiqi Farms, we grow our own farm produce, make our own livestock feed, and we don’t have to use chemicals in what we do.”
While the focus is on feeding Nigerians with organic foods, part of Qiqi Farms’ efforts is to change the perception that many Nigerians have about locally processed food items. The objective is to prove that the Nigerian food producing and processing industry follows standard procedures and produces safe products. “We process our foods without exposing them to dirt so that people can get value for their money and be more confident about what they are consuming. We are changing the narrative to make sure that Nigerians prefer locally processed foods to imported ones. This is important because it affects the Nigerian currency, and Qiqi Farms is interested in adding value to the Naira.”
Qiqi Farms has evolved from just cultivating vegetables. Now, the enterprise has expanded to include livestock production, food processing, and packaging. Despite being young, Favour co-organised the Youth in Business Forum event held on May 2nd 2022. It was a truly exceptional event with over 500 entrepreneurs in attendance as well as the honourable Ambassador of France to Nigeria, Her Excellency Mrs Emmanuelle Blatmaan and her team from Business France, AFD, and the Franco-Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Mr. Adeleke is a graduate of the Covenant Capital Business School and Lagos Business School. He is also a member of prestigious networks such as Nourishing Africa, Enterprise Development Centre, Fate Foundation, The Next Economy, The Entrepreneurship Assembly, and AWP.
Favour and his brand have bagged many awards and certifications including the following:
- Winner of the 2021 Franco-Nigerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry entrepreneurship competition in Nigeria.
- Winner of the EkoYouth Summit in partnership with EbonyLife Place, TFA and Access Bank.
- The JCI award as one of the top ten creative entrepreneurs in Nigeria in 2021.
- Winner of the Business Study Group award as the Agripreneur of the year in Nigeria in 2021.
- Qiqi Farms was nominated for the 25 under 25 Awards Class of 2020 under the agriculture category.
- Nominee at The Entrepreneur Africa Awards Class of 2020 under the agriculture category.
- Nominee at the African ChangeMakers Awards class of 2021 under the agriculture category.
- 2nd winner at the Unicaf Entrepreneurship Competition and Awards
- 2nd runner-up at the National Enterprise Challenge competition in Nigeria hosted by OXFAM, NEC, and EDC.
With so many wins, it’s easy to think that the young entrepreneur got everything right when he first started. However, from the outset, Favour and his team lacked total knowledge on how to manage affairs. He disclosed to Smartpreneur that there are three things that he has learned so far that prospective entrepreneurs in all sectors should not take lightly – the first is figuring out and developing a business model.
Initially, because he didn’t have the right business model, he suffered some losses. Speaking further, he stressed the other important aspects that should not be overlooked. “Customer experience and customer service should be made priorities. The next [thing] is focus. For us, the focus wasn’t one hundred percent clear and we later realised this. The last would be [our] target market, that is the market we wanted to serve. We didn’t get that right at the beginning as well.”
Encouraging Nigerians to embrace entrepreneurship, the Lagos State University undergraduate said that SMEs hold the key to resuscitating the economy. “Entrepreneurs can change this country just like China did. Nigeria needs to become the black China of the world and business owners need to see themselves as the people that will enable that.”
As for those that are confused about how to come up with a profitable business idea, Favour said, “Sometimes we are blind to see that in our flaws lies our true identity. There’s something that each and every one of us has that can positively impact and make life easy for people and that people are also willing to pay for; so, they should work on those abilities.”
Favour also highlighted how young prospective agricultural entrepreneurs should approach the sector. He stressed that people should do their homework before fully investing in agriculture to prevent huge losses. “Some people are not willing to learn or intern on farms and they just want to start with 20 acres of cassava; it will definitely fail. Some do not do enough consulting to understand what the market is before venturing into it. People need to expose themselves to training to understand the market in Nigeria. Agriculture is a serious business and the food industry is well over 80 billion dollars. I see some people buying land for farming but they’ve not fully grasped certain dynamics. Also, everyone can’t be a field farmer. There are other ways to enter the industry like in the areas of logistics, accounting services, consulting for farmers, and more. Literally everyone can play a role in different positions to make the Nigerian agricultural industry excel.”
To find out more about Adeleke Favour Okikijesu, follow him on his social media platforms @favourthelagosfarmer or follow his brand accounts @QiqiFarms on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.