Leaving a secure job in the financial services sector was not an easy decision to take, but Latifat Balogun’s passion for the elusive art of ice cream making propelled her to finally take the plunge.
Building a robust foundation for her chosen calling, Latifat joined an ice cream making, display and delivery programme at the Gelato University in Italy. When she came back to Abuja in 2003, it was to set up her own ice-cream business, Hatlab Ice Cream Delite.
Over 8 years, Hatlab expanded its presence to a total of three full-fledged stores and increased its offerings to include various flavours of ice creams to meet the demands of a fast growing and increasingly discerning clientèle.
In 2010, Latifat was ready to take her business to the next level but needed a strong financing partner to support her efforts.
“I wanted long-term funds and expert advice to refurbish my flagship outlet, relocate an existing branch to a new location, and buy more equipment and vehicles. When I approached GroFin, I found all I needed under one roof,” says Latifat.
GroFin granted a loan of NGN 29 million over five years for Hatlab’s expansion, showing complete faith in Latifat’s ambitious plans for a business makeover. The funding helped complete the new head office building, open another outlet, and purchase new equipment. The most popular outlet was also transformed to boost product sales on the move, with the acquisition of a vending vehicle.
On the business support front, GroFin advised the client on marketing – including branding, sales and stores layout – as well as financial management – including quality control and financial records. GroFin also played a facilitating role at a company retreat to brainstorm business process improvement. Additionally, GroFin assisted at a week-long skills acquisition program organised by the company in partnership with Gelato University for over 20 upcoming entrepreneurs.
Since GroFin’s investment and involvement in the business, the number of sales outlets has increased from three to six, with the sixth location in Ilorin becoming operational as recently as the second half of 2015.
Moreover, the business has achieved centralised production with increased product varieties, leading to a reduction in the production cost, 15% growth in sales, and a measurable increase in customer satisfaction. Also, employment opportunities have multiplied with the store expansion as staff has grown from 30 to 40, of which 42% are semi-skilled.
With improved branding and quality control, the business gained international recognition as recipient of the International Star for Leadership in Quality Award in the Gold Category at the 2014 BID Quality Convention in Paris.
“It is a great source of satisfaction to see our efforts and support translate into success for the business and happiness for the entrepreneur,” says Tunde Lawal, Investment Executive at GroFin Lagos.