I was inspired to found El-Gazelle Foods after someone close to me had complications from consuming contaminated roadside Kilishi- Osato El Osemwingie

I got inspired to founds El-Gazelle Foods after someone close to me had complications from consuming contaminated roadside Kilishi- Osato El Osemwingie

Osato El Osemwingie is the founder of El-Gazelle foods. She is a fellow of Womhub in partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering in London and a member of IAAS worldwide. She has also received several awards and recognitions of her contribution to women empowerment and Entrepreneurship. In this interview with MSME Africa, she shares some tips that can help female entrepreneurs.

Can we meet you?

I am a chemical Engineer and Social Entrepreneur with over 6 years of experience working in Business Management, FMCG sector, Strategy and Innovation and in the NGO space.   I call myself a lifelong learner, after I graduated from Covenant University with a 2nd class upper degree in Chemical Engineering,I have gone ahead to study (full/part-time) with schools like Harvard University, Eudoracity Business School, Tekedia Institute, Lagos Business School and many others to build and develop capacity.   Growing up, I have always been passionate about women and youths contributing to National development so I started El Gazelle Foods to make protein more available  to  Africans in form of snacks like kilishi(chicken  kilishi, Goatmeat kilishi (which we are the FOREMOST PRODUCERS IN NIGERIA).   El Gazelle empowers 7 full time staffs, 2 part time staffs, over 1000 farmers (more women), supply about 100 stores in Nigeria and we work with small holder farmers to reduce hunger, food waste, food poisoning and environmental degradation. I  am a fellow of Womhub in partnership with Royal Academy of Engineering in London, a multiple grant award winner to the glory of God, I am a member of IAAS worldwide, and I have also received several awards and recognitions for my contribution to women empowerment and Entrepreneurship from the Ooni of Ife, Her Excellency the First Lady of Ogun State, being recognized as one of the founders of the Top 20 MSMEs in Nigeria and many others.   I am a faith-fueled lady who believes every day is a great day to be better versions of who we were yesterday.

What inspired your entrepreneurial journey

I got inspired to start this journey after a close person to me had complications from consuming contaminated roadside Kilishi.

Kindly share a high moment for you as an entrepreneur.

Seeing the brand El Gazelle thrive, expanding to our mechanized/solar-powered factory, growing sustainably, while also having a positive impact on our community and the environment, and representing El Gazelle for international opportunities is one for me.

How have you been coping with the challenges of being a female entrepreneur in your space?

Being a female social -entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry like the Kilishi industry Firstly, it is important to be confident in your abilities and knowledge of the industry. Being knowledgeable about your product, market trends, and target audience can give you a competitive edge and also serve as a coping mechanism. When I started El Gazelle Kilishi, I remembered how I had to travel to over 5 Northern states to see the “HOW” of Kilishi so I could innovate better.

Secondly, it can be helpful to seek out mentors and networking opportunities. Connecting with other female entrepreneurs in the industry can provide valuable insights, coping mechanisms during stormy times, and support

Embrace innovation and creativity; look for ways to innovate and differentiate yourself from the competition. Experiment with new flavors, packaging, or marketing strategies to appeal to your target audience; this sets you apart and allows your brand name to be mentioned in rooms that matter.

Finally, it is also helpful to seek out resources and support systems, such as business incubators, funding opportunities, and organizations that support female entrepreneurs. It takes a village, really, and thanks to MSME Africa for supporting and pushing out opportunities to entrepreneurs in Nigeria.

Overall, being a female entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry can be challenging, but with perseverance, knowledge, support, and resources, it is possible to overcome these challenges and succeed in your business

The focus of this year’s International Women’s Day is to get the world talking about ‘Why equal opportunities aren’t enough.” What do you have to contribute to this?

Honestly, equal opportunities alone are not enough to address the systemic inequalities and barriers that women face in various fields, including education, employment, and leadership roles. While it is important to ensure that everyone has access to the same opportunities, it is equally important to address the structural and cultural barriers that prevent women from fully participating and advancing in their chosen fields.

For example, even when women have access to education and training, they may face discrimination and bias when seeking employment or advancement opportunities, Imagine telling a woman she doesn’t qualify for the job because she’s married, has kids, or because she’s single!

I believe it is important to address these systemic and cultural barriers by promoting gender equality, eliminating gender-based discrimination and harassment, and creating supportive policies and environments that enable women to thrive.

This can include policies that promote work-life balance, flexible working arrangements, and gender-sensitive social protections.

We need to create an inclusive and equitable society where all people, regardless of gender, can fully participate and succeed.

What do you hope to see improve in the MSME ecosystem in the next 5 years in Nigeria?

I would like to see a lot improved on but narrowing it down would be;

Regulatory environment: Simplifying regulations and reducing bureaucratic hurdles can help MSMEs focus on growing their businesses rather than navigating complex regulatory frameworks. For instance, in the food industry, getting NAFDAC doesn’t make that number accessible to you for years, you have to renew the number every 2 years! Simplifying this could reduce hurdles and help us focus on growing our business.

Access to finance: One of the major challenges facing MSMEs in Nigeria is access to affordable finance. Improving access to finance through the creation of more financing options and reducing interest rates can help small businesses grow and create more jobs.

Business development services: Providing MSMEs with access to training, mentorship, and other business development services can help them build their skills and capacity, and enable them to better compete in their respective industries.

Infrastructure development: Poor infrastructure, including unreliable power supply and poor transportation networks, continues to hinder the growth of MSMEs in Nigeria. Investment in infrastructure development can create an enabling environment for small businesses to thrive.

Your final words to everyone reading this and hoping to start something like this.

Starting a business can be a challenging and rewarding journey, filled with both successes and setbacks. However, with the right mindset, skills, and resources, you can turn your dreams into reality.

Here are some tips that may be helpful:

Put God First: I am a Christian, and the Bible has always been a source of inspiration, joy, and strength. Hold on to that source that gives you the power and renew it daily.

Believe in yourself and your vision. Starting a business takes courage and confidence. Trust yourself and your abilities.

Research and plan. Before you start, make sure you have a solid business plan that includes a clear understanding of your target market, competition, and financial projections.

Be adaptable. The business landscape is constantly changing, and it is important to be flexible and open to pivoting your business model if needed.

Network and seek out mentorship. Building relationships with others in your industry can provide valuable insights and support.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Whether it’s seeking out funding opportunities, connecting with industry experts, or hiring staff, don’t be afraid to reach out for support when you need it.

Remember, starting a business is a journey, not a destination. Enjoy the process, and be open to learning and growing along the way. Good luck!




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