Hauwa Huru Alkashim is winner of the 2019 National Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) award in the manufacturing industry. Her brand, Infinite Wealth, processes and packages superfoods such as moringa, turmeric, cashew nuts, tiger nuts and sesame seeds. She has taken this further by organising a Wellness summit. She tells us what she hopes to achieve with it.
You recently won the National MSMEs award in the manufacturing category, what earned you the award?
Our entry was about tackling twin concern of “making it easy to eat healthy” and helping someone in need (finding employment opportunities for women who have fallen on hard times and need a helping hand to rebuild their lives).
It was a mix of excitement, joy, nervousness and relief all mixed in as one, when we were informed of our nomination. When they announced our name, we were still really nervous and relieved at the same time; our hard work has been recognized.
You are into production of agricultural goods, how do you go about it?
Yes, Infinite Wealth founded and developed based on a unique concept whose core idea is to produce superfoods, recognizes her role in the food industry that must feed an additional billion people by 2030.
In 2017 we took a dramatic decision to leave our animal base protein superfoods of nine years to “go plant based” as a response to changes in the industry.
We looked inward (homegrown) for the foods that have been used for hundreds of years to do just this; foods like hibiscus, moringa, turmeric, cashew, tiger nut and sesame seeds.
These products which we have processed, added value to and packaged won us the National MSME award in the manufacturing category.
Funding is a challenge for many MSMEs, was there any time you wanted to stop producing because of funding?
I wanted to give up several months after I lost more than half of my investment as a result of heavy rain in the community where my poultry farm was located. But then, there was nothing to do but to approach the bank for funds but the complex application procedures, high interest rate and unrealistic collateral requirements almost sent us out of business. But then, we explored other options like family and friends, got funds and continued.
How do you think we can encourage entrepreneurship in Nigeria?
By creating entrepreneurship hubs for accessible mentoring programmes and making funds more accessible.
What do you hope to achieve with the Wellness summit you are organising?
I want to create a community where we can learn from one another, while empowering women to live their healthiest lives with both of my brands. The African Wellness summit coming up on Saturday, 26th stemmed from Infinite Wealth’s experience with her award winning brand. We extend beyond that with our belief that wellness should be a holistic conversation. We are in partnership with Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) and Abuja Enterprise Agency (AEA).
On our panel are top experts and leadpreneurs like Aisha Atta, Sam Obafemi, Weyinmi Eribo and Jemima Angulu all alumni of Enterprise Development Centre (EDC) of the Pan Atlantic University, Lagos. We also have Dr Hilda Ashio Titiloye of Skin101 one of our favourite beauty companies.
What advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs?
Young entrepreneurs should be prepared to finance their business from their pocket for at least a year and be ready for competition even if you are the only one existing in that area as at when you started.
What key things have you learned doing business?
The number one lesson I’ve learned in doing business is that nothing beats hard work and persistence in the right areas. It means taking calculated risks and sticking to them, no matter how challenging they are.
The second lesson is that entrepreneurial journey can get lonely and that the generosity in networking will get you moral support, positive influence and business referrals. I am a true believer in the old adage, “your network determines your net worth”.
Last but not the least, authenticity to me is being true to your personality. Don’t try to be someone else.
Where do you see your business in the next few years?
My mission and purpose is to empower people to live healthy lives with both of my brands. With Winfinite, we hope to be an African household brand while with African Wellness summit, we hope to continue bringing leading brands and experts together under one roof to help upgrade women entrepreneurs.