How Nigeria’s Adepeju Jaiyeoba went from lawyer to baby food maker and made it big: Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa and a hotspot for entrepreneurship and innovation, has its fair share of challenges. Among them, the underexploited baby food industry stands out. African countries reportedly import approximately $600 million worth of baby food annually, and this figure is projected to soar to $1 billion by 2016.
The local baby food production in Africa has fallen short, and Nigerian entrepreneur Adepeju Jaiyeoba is determined to bridge this gap. She is the visionary founder of Colourful Giggles, a Lagos-based baby food company.
Adepeju recognizes the scarcity of affordable and nutritious baby food in Nigeria and across Africa. Often, babies are fed with low-cost staple crops readily available to their families. Imported, healthy alternatives present their own set of challenges, including cost and accessibility.
In her own words to How We Made It In Africa, Adepeju Jaiyeoba explains, “If the family plants maize, then that is the only food the baby is going to eat. If they plant soya beans, then that is what the child will eat. The parents do not pay particular attention to the nutritional value and the mix of micro and macro nutrients that are important for children under the age of five.”
A qualified lawyer, Jaiyeoba ventured into baby food production to create products using Nigerian ingredients that could rival dominant global brands. Since its inception in 2020, Colourful Giggles has evolved to offer a range of products priced between $2 and $5, catering to middle-class Nigerian mothers and low-income households alike.
The company currently boasts six recipes crafted from local grains and perishables. One variety, for instance, combines wheat, cashew nut, pawpaw, and banana, while another incorporates sweet potatoes, soya beans, cucumber, and dates. These nutrient-rich blends are packaged in 300g boxes with instructions for consumers to add water to create a paste.
Adepeju’s aspiration to compete with global brands led her to collaborate with experts worldwide to develop healthy recipes. She sources grains from northern Nigeria and partners with nearby collectives managed by women farmers for fruits and vegetables. However, she acknowledges the logistical challenges, particularly in ensuring a consistent supply of grains from the northern regions.
Despite the hurdles, Adepeju Jaiyeoba remains undeterred in her mission to provide nutritious, locally sourced baby food to Nigerian children and make Colourful Giggles a household name. Her inspiring journey from a legal career to pioneering the baby food industry reflects the entrepreneurial spirit that thrives in Nigeria.
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