In 2016, Afie Braimoh launched SACFruits dried Fruits, a Nigerian company that produces healthy fruits snacks in form of dried fruit slices. Her company was born out of a need to tackle waste in food produce and to create a sustainable value chain to empower farmers. Prior to setting up her company, Braimoh who was helping to set up a fruit juice company for a client in Benue, first considered towing the same line of setting up a juice company but considering their shelf life, she had a rethink.
She began experimenting by drying fruits in her kitchen dehydrator and after some weeks of doing that, gave out samples at her office, church and to friends and family. The feedback she got encouraged her to seek and get the approval of the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in Nigeria. In less than a year after her launch, SACFruits was in over 70 stores across the country. That number has increased to over 200 stores currently.
Braimoh’s SACFruits are produced and packaged in three variants – mango, pineapple, and a medley of fruits consisting cashew nut, coconut, strawberry, mango and pineapple, all gluten-free, allergen-free and non-genetically modified. Her company, Sweet As Candy Confectioneries, also operates a manufacturing arm through which it supplies dried fruits to companies for rebranding. It also supplies various species of fresh mangoes to retailers across Nigeria.
However, being an entrepreneur in Nigeria can be quite challenging; from the erratic power supply to poor road networks, Braimoh dealt with them all. To solve the problem and risk of transporting her fresh fruits from Benue to Lagos to be dried, and consequently reduce operating cost, she set up a factory in Benue state where her fruits are grown. She also had to educate store owners on what dried fruits are while encouraging them to stock her products.
With regards to funding, Braimoh established and has built her business this far solely from her savings and whatever income she makes from her other businesses. Currently, Braimoh is seeking investments to expand her company. Her goal is for SACFruits to be present in other African markets and in the United States. She also hopes for the company to own a farm.
Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs in Nigeria is for them to conduct researches and understand the industry and territory. “Just because it has worked for you globally, doesn’t mean it will work for you in Nigeria,” she said. According to her, the risks of doing business in Nigeria are very high, but the rewards are higher. “You have to be prepared to be in it for the long haul. Be financially savvy. Be passionate and focused.”
Last year, SACFruits was nominated by the African Creative Exhibition and Awards as the Best Food Produce Innovation in Nigeria.