Q: Tell us about yourself and how you started your business?
Tamara Egbedi: My name is Tamara Egbedi, I am a lawyer with vast international experience in the oil and gas industry, commercial and corporate law, compliance, dispute resolution, and maritime gained working in different regions in the world such as UK, Europe, Middle East, Mediterranean and Asia Pacific. I previously worked in companies such as Chevron Nigeria Ltd, AELEX, Subsea 7 and Spectrum Geo Ltd and was part of the management team in the last 2 companies. Presently I work as a consultant for international companies who wish to do business in Africa and help set up and advice companies legal, commercial and compliance departments. I also contribute to international legal journals, speak at Legal and corporate conference around the world and volunteer as a guest lecturer for the CEPMLP Masters’ program at the University of Dundee. I actively promote diversity at board level and also an entrepreneur – the founder of Makeda Beauty and co-founder of PachaMama Foods.
I started my current business when I had an encounter with a malnourished 8-month old pregnant woman 4 years ago. Her state of malnutrition affected her unborn baby as it was stunted and as a result I explored more of this issue in Nigeria and discovered how bad malnutrition is cutting across the country; take for instance I found out that 8 out of 10 babies born are underweight mostly caused by their own moms being malnourished when pregnant and such babies remain malnourished afterwards because their lactating mums are not producing enough rich breastmilk also caused by malnutrition and a bad diet; weaning babies and kids suffering from malnutrition, adults suffering from high cholesterol, high sugar level (diabetes), high blood pressure; the elderly losing weight and shirking due to lack of balanced food suitable for them.
My research showed that the poverty rate in Nigeria is staggering high and disturbingly increasing and one of its consequences is malnutrition and it doesn’t get better as most of our staple food is carbohydrates and not balanced. Thus, I went back to London and the idea to develop and produce healthy, tasty and affordable food was formed and this birthed “PachaMama Foods”.
Q: What business hiccup (so far) and how did you overcome the challenge?
TE: Firstly, is getting the right people to work with who share your work ethics and are committed. We got round that by employing people who came recommended and our interview process was a balance of having soft and technical skill.
Secondly, is procurement of materials and equipment – I am proudly Nigerian and the company reflected that as well by using equipment, ingredients and packaging made and operated by Nigerians; however immediately finding the right suppliers can be very tasking and difficult due to a lack of expertise, investment, database and lack of good time management which results in delays. We overcame this by working with a food technologist and engineer who understood our production process before we engaged or purchased anything, although we suffered delays which were factored in our business plan.
Thirdly, is the lack of support from the banks as they ask for huge collaterals with very high interest rates which isn’t practical nor beneficial for SMEs like us. Even the CBN policies for small-scale business are really meant for the rich businesses as few true SMEs can meet the collateral demands. With the lack of support, I and the co-founder pooled our personal savings to set the business up. Lastly, is the lack of constant, good power supply which resulted to us purchasing a generator which runs daily on diesel which make production cost high.
Q: What one lesson have you learned as a business owner that has served you well over the years?
TE: Managing your time well and efficiently
Q: What was your first ‘Big Break’ and how did you get it?
TE: In my professional career, it was when I got hired from a law firm by an International Oil Company to manage all 4 of their offices in Nigeria and subsequently Africa. In my business, not yet…still waiting as we officially opened just 2 months ago.
Q: Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other business owners that have helped you run your business?
TE: Having a checklist of what to do daily, weekly and ensure a culture of reporting.
Q: Tell us about your new/recent projects or if you have just reached a milestone?
TE: Our first product under PachaMama Foods brand is called “Tom Brown PLUS” which is a 5 Multigrain meal made with naturally sourced whole grains thus a balanced meal and can be prepared in different forms – porridge, muffins, pancakes and so on by substituting flour. It is suitable for weaning babies, pregnant mum, lactating mothers, kids, adults and elderly. It is wholegrains, gluten-free, lactose-free and good for children with special needs allergies, vegetarians, vegans and weight management in adults as it is very filling and high in fibre. We worked with nutritionists, Food technologist in London and Nigeria as well as with a chef to ensure it is a truly balanced meal which is suitable for malnourished cases, people with diabetes and other nutrition related illnesses. Our products are NAFDAC approved and people may find health advice and delicious recipes on our website at www.pachamamafoodsng.com. I personally love it as it helps with weight management due to its high fibre content and natural ingredients as it keeps me full for a long time.
As a company, we believe in achieving some of the UN Sustainable Development Goals by adding values and leaving sustainable footprints where we operate, thus one of the key reasons our workforce is pre-dominantly made up of women, some of which are widows, our ingredients directly sourced from local farmers so they get full access to the money and cut out the middlemen and also key is that all our processing equipment were locally fabricated in Nigeria.
We reached a milestone recently as we have now partnered with at Lagos State Primary Health Centre board to combat malnutrition in mothers and babies.
Q: What is the numero-uno business goal you plan to accomplish this year?
TE: Raise awareness of the product especially at Primary Health Centres, supermarkets, churches and on social media.
Q: How would you describe yourself in one word?
TE: Unapologetic Me
Q: What would the title of your auto-biography be?
TE: Making a positive difference in the World
Q: What words of advice would you like to share with our Pink members?
TE: Never doubt yourself, be strategic in all you do, PLAN, PLAN and PLAN. Always have multiple plans in case life throws a curve ball and separate your issues (keep private life separate from your business and professional life if you can).
Q: What do you do for fun/relaxation?
TE: Travel, read novels and practice Karate.
Q: Name 3 things on your bucket list?
– Win a lottery (funny I don’t play any)
– Speak French fluently
– Visit countries I haven’t seen yet
Q: What is your fashion style?
Q: What does PINK mean to you?
TE: Women building and supporting women.
Q: Name 3 women that inspire you?
TE: Myself in 10 years