How I Grew Bee-Keeping into a Multi-Million-Naira Business – CEO, Alpha-Cedar

Victoria Folasade Ojebiyi wanted to start a business so badly but never had any inkling of what to go into, neither did she has the fund to start-off with. But then she saw an opportunity in the bee-keeping business while working at a university-owned venture.


Today, she is the CEO of Alpha–Cedar Corporate Company Ltd., an agricultural processing company that is into beekeeping and food processing. With an array of products derived from honey, bee-wax, bee-propolis, bean-flour, coconut oil and shea-butter, and also diversifying into capacity development through skills acquisition trainings and consultancy programmes. Victoria has grown Alpha- Cedar Corporate Company into a multi-million naira venture.

In this interview with Business Elites Africa (BEA) Visionaries, she shares her entrepreneurial story:

Tell about your journey to where you are today

All my life I have always want to own my own business. I read marketing at The Polytechnic, Ibadan and can remember when I was defending my project in school and my supervisor asked me what was my future plans? I told him I intend to start my own business, he then asked me, where I would get money to start? I told him then that I would work for a few years save some money and then start and he wished me well.

After I finished my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), I tried to raise some money by looking for a job but the job was not forthcoming. In the process of my looking for a job, I prayed that wherever I would work should be a place that would project me to the business I should do. By this time, I was willing to start but had no business idea in mind. All I knew was that I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

Then one day, I took up a job at the Federal University Agriculture Abeokuta (NAAB) Consult. This job marked the beginning of my journey into entrepreneurship. I was to replace a beekeeper who had just resigned. I took interest in the business and wanted to know more. I then went for more training, and with little savings and contributions from friends I started the business with just N20,000.

The beekeeping business began to grow and I was proud of myself that I was making extra money but I was still not satisfied. So one day, a friend told me that National Directorate of Employment (NDE) was having a training on Start Your Business (SYOB). I applied and went for the training. That was how it all began. But then, I couldn’t cope with my job and business together, I had to choose between my passion and job, so I resigned and focused on business. I then got a scholarship same month I resigned from Goldman Sachs under the 10,000 Women at Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) of Pan Atlantic University. I was also among the pioneer set of Mentee entrepreneurs of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industries (LCCI).

The entrepreneurship journey has not been easy, but any time I feel like giving up I see a light in the tunnel that propels me to another phase of business. I recently completed a training with GIZ on SME LOOP, Scale Up Your Business.

The entrepreneurship journey has not been easy, but any time I feel like giving up I see a light in the tunnel that propels me to another phase of business – Victoria Ojebiyi

How I Grew Bee-Keeping into a Million-Naira Business - CEO, Alpha-CedarHow I Grew Bee-Keeping into a Million-Naira Business - CEO, Alpha-Cedar

Describe your company – services/ products, other information you would like provide.

Alpha –Cedar Corporate Company is an agricultural setup that is into beekeeping and food processing. Our products are Pure honey, Bee-wax, Bee-propolis, Beans-flour, Coconut oil and Shea-Butter body cream. We are also into capacity development through our training and consultancy programmes.

 

What unseen opportunities did you see that may result in making your start-up a huge success?

Beekeeping is an untapped goldmine in Nigeria. Today there is a great demand for pure honey and we have very few people who are into this venture, thereby giving rise to adulterated honey in the market.

Many in the bee-keeping industry are giving up on daily basis because of the challenges facing us, but I have been able to turn those challenges to means of discovering other products that are even more valuable than honey, such as royal jelly, Bee-propolis, Bee-pollen and Bee-venom which we have started working on.

 

At the moment how do you measure success? What way do you use to know if you are attaining success?

Success to me is that despite all the odds am still in business, I have passed through a lot of challenges that on a normal note I should have closed shop

and sought for paid employment, but instead of that am waxing stronger with more experiences better than when I started off and still discovering more opportunities.

 

Do you think your brand is lucrative enough for investors? If yes why?

Yes, it is very lucrative, like I said earlier, apart from honey there are other products that are even more valuable than honey and they do not take long to produce if one has the necessary tools and equipment at one’s disposal.

 

What have you learnt about yourself during your journey?

I see myself as a fighter, consumed with passion. A person that does not easily give up until I attain success.

I see myself as a fighter, consumed with passion. A person that does not easily give up until I attain success.

 Tell us how you felt after you received your first payment for your services.

I was overwhelmed with joy, knowing that it’s from my effort and something I could call my own.

 

If you weren’t growing your business what else do you think you will be doing?

I think I would be working as a marketer because that’s my discipline or tending a small garden because I love nature.

 

What advice would you want to give to new entrepreneurs?

They should learn to start small, think big and grow the little they have they started with until it becomes exceedingly great in their hands. They should be focused and determined to weather the storms and make a success of their labours and efforts.

They should learn to start small, think big and grow the little they have… – Victoria Ojebiyi

What do you think your growth will be like next year, in the next five years?

My dream is to have a honey park which am working towards. This will make my brand to be one of the most sought-out in Nigeria and in the next five years, Alpha-Cedar products will definitely be a global brand.

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