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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Reelfruit - Affiong Williams #inthespiritofenterprise


Hi guys! Don't even bother asking where I have been. What can I say, life happens. In other news, I debuted my radio show on enterprise radio today!!! Whoop whoop! It's called "Strike the anvil" and it airs on Tuesdays from 9am to 10am west African time. You can call in to contribute or protest, hehe. The whole idea is to hit the nail on the head about entrepreneurship in Nigeria and Africa. You can stream directly from the site or download the app at www.enterpriseng.com. I look forward to having great conversations with you! You can listen to the premiere on soundcloud here - http://goo.gl/uqHnUx

In case you've forgotten and this is my fault, I know, It's Tuesday, #inthespiritofenterprise!! In the spirit of enterprise we have a wonderful ground breaking entrepreneur story to share today. I am super excited to introduce to you, Affiong Williams. All you weight watchers, here's a cool way to get your fruit on!

Tell us about yourself 

My name is Affiong Williams, 28 Year Old entrepreneur, building a fruit processing company in Nigeria, and eventually other countries in Africa. I studied a general Bsc degree in Physiology and Psychology, and followed up with a diploma in business management. However, my most valuable education came through work experience. I am quite simple. I take pride in it. I am quite motivated (I have run 2 marathons (42 KM) and 1 ultra-marathon (50KM) before I turned 26). I am very ambitious. I am clumsy, passionate, curious (I love travel), introverted and a bit of a nerd. I hope to hold political office in the future (Power to the women!! Yaay), and I also hope to live in different countries in Africa.


Tell us about your business?
ReelFruit offers healthy snacks (dried fruits and nuts) to the growing class of people who are looking for healthier eating and lifestyle. My decision to launch ReelFruit was borne out of my general decision to venture into the Agribusiness sector. I believe that Agriculture has huge untapped potential both in wealth and job creation, however, like any other business, it requires large investment, patience and expertise. I was excited about value addition to fruit products, so I decided to start with dried fruits as a way to preserve the shelf life of fruits and reduce waste.

What inspired you to go into agro food processing?
I am motivated by a number of things, but what drives me most is the possibility that I can change a community, and the agribusiness sector. The values that drive our business are rooted in our long term vision, that through agribusiness , we can change lives. Nigerian products can be made to world class standards, and can be sold anywhere in the world. This is reflected in our short term plans, of launching products that reflect the quality of a world class product, as well as our medium term plans of launching a world class factory. Anything we do will be novel, we will drive innovation and bring change to the agribusiness industry. We don’t want to work within the inefficiencies that plague the sector. We want to be a driving force of change

What are the products you currently have in the market?

Our range currently includes dried mango, pineapple, coconut, banana, a fruit and nut mix and cashews. We are currently present mainly in Lagos, but we are excited to be growing into other regions of the country and beyond Nigeria. We have sold our products in Ghana, South Africa and even the United States

How has the market acceptance of these products been?

Market Acceptance has been a constant challenge. Although we know customers like our products, marketing and awareness is one of our biggest hurdles. It is very expensive to create large marketing campaigns, and we don’t have to budget for that. We try to be creative and use as many free forums as possible to get the work out there about our products.


How did you raise funds for your business?

My savings in the beginning, friends, family and fools as well. :-) ReelFruit has won 2 business plan competitions, which came with some funds. Now we are at a stage where we are getting investors who are excited about the vision of the company and its potential.

What are the main challenges you have faced along the way and how have you managed them?
There are so many challenges, and you cannot plan for all of them. I could go on all day about challenges. The biggest challenge is that most things take longer than expected, so one must always leave a little room to accommodate delays in business. I have also had a lot of “unexpected expenses” which always increase our operational expenses. I have had a mild case of dubious suppliers and even dubious products sold on the market which spoil after 1 month of use.

For all challenges, I try as much as possible to seek counsel from people who have been in similar situations before. I would suggest that entrepreneurs invest time in expanding their network. The value of a solid network is huge. I have been so positively surprised by how helpful people (who didn’t know me prior) have been. I would recommend that people take time out for personal development by seeking out people in their industries that they can learn from. Many challenges offer great opportunities for one to learn about their businesses more intimately, so challenges are not always a bad thing…In retrospect, of course.

How would you summarize the experience so far?

Challenging, enlightening, interesting. I have had so many opportunities open up since starting my business. I have vastly increased my network to include other passionate Nigerians who are doing wonderful things that will be big in a few years’ time. Through my experience, I have ascertained what my purpose is on this earth- an achievement that has truly liberated me. All in all, It has been rewarding, and most importantly, the future looks very bright.

Given the chance, will you do this again? 

YES! I would start earlier.

What advice will you give to someone setting up a new business in Nigeria.

In business, I advise everyone to take it a step at a time. Before I got an office, and hired staff, I started the business in my room, working alone, going from pillar to post, and testing the products with customers. Pay close attention to market feedback, and be willing and flexible to your products and services to fit the market needs. You have to be patient, committed, persistent, and hold on to your big ambitions.

follow - @reelfruit

Call -  +234 8165376179 or +234 8184680334