Founder Series: Meet The Food Tech Entrepreneur

Hakeem Jimo is the co-founder of Veggie Victory – Nigeria’s pioneer plant-based food tech company. Uncap talks to him about his entrepreneurial journey and growth of his business.   

1) Where did the business idea come from?

I started my mission driven plant-based food tech business after being vegan for 26 years. What at the onset started as Nigeria’s first vegan restaurant grew to serve more health-conscious people through a variety of products. This idea was initially sparked by an app I had downloaded while on travels in Asia which shows vegan restaurants near you. The app worked well in various parts of the world yet in Nigeria, with a population of over 200 million people, it showed no results.

This sounded crazy to me because although the larger population eats meat, there are still Nigerian vegetarians by choice or religion. There’s also a health-conscious expat community, so why wasn’t there one vegan restaurant? Upon looking in supermarket shelves, I also realized that there were zero meat alternatives. That began the journey of making my first retail product.

 2) How did you handle business in 2020?  


Some of our raw materials come from abroad which were affected due to supply chain challenges along international shipping routes. I remember hearing a quote from Jack Ma, “2020 is not a sales year, it’s a survival year”.  We went back to the drawing board and spent the better part of the year in product development & sharpening our acumen on all things grant and funding opportunities. Our business customer base also grew as people started prioritizing their health starting with what they eat.  

3) How did an investment from Uncap help grow your business?

Uncap was our first institutional investment which came at right time at the beginning of the pandemic. It really helped us in our product development, which thankfully, we were able to refine & improve.

Our product range is now enhanced to continue providing a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle through plant-based meats and meals. We are happy to see more Nigerians appreciate our bestselling product Vchunks which has the same taste and texture as regular beef or chicken in addition to being more affordable and having more protein. 

 4) What drives you when running Veggie Victory?

  
Aside from seeing the tremendous impact meat alternatives have on people’s overall health, our business is also tackling food security, environmental and socio-economic challenges. 

5) Any advice for early-stage entrepreneurs?  

All investors want to hear a clear story about your business. Spend time strengthening and spelling out your uniqueness. Also look into how you can scale, no matter what stage your business is at. For investors who have a focus on Africa, most want to support innovative young businesses that are unique, different and creating an impact. Check on which sustainability goals your business is helping achieve and make sure that comes out clearly in your pitches. 

If you would like to learn more about Hakeem Jimo’s business, visit www.veggievictory.com 

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