“I have always been entrepreneurially minded and when my spouse started developing an entrepreneurial spirit in 2014, I knew something good was in the offing for us,”
They started out baking only two cartons of biscuits a day. In the beginning, Temitope and Olusegun Esho ran their business, Gold Box Foods, from the kitchen in their home in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. There were no other employees.
Six years later, this husband and wife team owns and operates two fully equipped bakeries, employing 46 people. Gold Box Foods produces 200 cartons of biscuits per day. “I have always been entrepreneurially minded and when my spouse started developing an entrepreneurial spirit in 2014, I knew something good was in the offing for us,” says Olusegun.
The business has also expanded its product range to include bread and doughnuts. “We both looked at our immediate environment and saw a need for quality bread for middle to higher income markets. Bread making also runs in the family.”
But although there has always been strong demand for their products, growing the business was not easy. “Our biggest challenge came at the inception of the business and that was the recession that hit Nigeria in late 2015. Other challenges included erratic electricity supply, the cost of raw materials and finding qualified personnel.”
The couple says teamwork were crucial to keeping them motivated during these difficult periods. “Passion, commitment, persistence and continuous learning were the motivating factors that kept us going. We were continuously learning and developing our capacity, especially in areas where we knew we were deficient.” They believe in continuous learning which is a crucial attribute to becoming a successful entrepreneur – as is having a clear vision.
The Eshos’ first break came when they entered a business plan competition sponsored by the Nigerian government and won a grant of nearly $50,000. This funding allowed them to purchase equipment and move Gold Box to a leased premises, but the couple still needed further funding and technical assistance to turn their promising start-up into a sustainable business. Temitope and Olusegun tried in vain to obtain a bank loan. “Funding is a very big problem here in Nigeria,” they explained.
GroFin was able to provide them with both. The Aspire Small Business Fund (ASBF) provided the Eshos with funding to fulfil their working capital needs and purchase additional equipment to expand Gold Box even further. Moreover, GroFin’s model of providing its clients with continuous business support in the form of advice and guidance also helped them formalise the business.
The couple says GroFin’s support in evaluating and monitoring their business and its progress were vital to its growth. “GroFin provided the foundation for our business, not only in terms of funding, but also helping to put the right management structures and systems in place which are necessary for its growth.”