Talk of a zeal to do a business tied to one’s town, culture and origin, you see a combination of all of these in Raji Hammed Adekunle Agbenuobe. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Hamraj Multipurpose Ventures, the company that processes Gaari Odeomu. He holds a degree in Biological Sciences from the Tai Solarin University of Education , Ijagun, Ijebu Ode. At a time when young people of his age are yearning to leave Nigeria, he is here promoting a staple food common in the South of Nigeria with an uncommon passion. The AC crew, in the series of My Business & I for young entrepreneurs in Nigeria, spoke to him on the secret behind this passion to sell his town to the world through Gaari. Here are the excerpts of the interview. Enjoy!
AC: Can you please tell us about yourself?
Hamraj: I’m Raji Hammed Adekunle Agbenuobe, the Director of Operations at Hamraj Multipurpose Ventures, the processing Company of Gaari Odẹomu.
AC: What is the passion behind the business of Gaari that is widely known to be a business for women?
Hamraj: Without mincing words, I ventured into the Garri processing business to escape hunger which I had earlier identified as the source of every calamities befalling any progressive society. I volunteered my resources to battle this avoidable situation by providing a succor through my brand which accommodates further engagement of a number of the people roaming the streets aimlessly. Food is, of course, a complete solution to hunger! Through Gaari Odẹomu, I’m combating one of the major challenges facing our contemporary society and I look forward to winning the battle soon with the support of everybody. Moreover, I discovered that we, the Odeomu people of Osun State, produce the best variety of Garri as evidently verified from my tours across the major Garri producing communities in the country. Now come to think of our refined, clinically tested and certified Gaari Odẹomu!
AC: How did you start it?
Hamraj: I started by outsourcing for the product from the local women processing it in the beautiful city of Odẹomu. I didn’t just stop there but further educate these women on how to improve on the production especially the ones having to do with us, being a graduate of Biological Sciences at the Premier University of Education, Ijebu Ode. Then I accepted to be the ‘errand boy’ of those who need Garri supply in different locations.
AC: Is it really true that Osun does not have a conducive environment for business?
Hamraj: On the contrary, Osun does!. It has indeed provided an environment for local SMES to thrive even without having to access different government interventions. Moreover, we now have the government that cares about what the youths do to empower themselves.
AC: What are the challenges for you as an entrepreneur?
Hamraj: Starting from the scratch is not always easy anywhere, same with our brand but with our commitment, perseverance and consistency we are maneuvering the situation and coming out stronger. Meanwhile, transportation has always been the major issue as transaction cannot be said to have actually taken place without the good getting to the final consumers.
AC: What opportunities are there for entrepreneurs in the state and Nigeria?
Hamraj: Ours is a society full of opportunities and resources. We only need to tap into any of these to make a living. Of course we have the most favorable weather and most suitable land for agriculture and for other commercial purposes. Look deeply into the components of the society and all you see are untapped resources and opportunities. We only need to think and act accordingly!
AC: Where do you see the business in the next five years?
Hamraj: Standing differently among its kind and making waves across the corners of the universe. Recognized, registered and accepted as the best among its kind universally.
AC: Your advice for upcoming entrepreneurs?
Hamraj: The end justifies the means. The kick off does not in most cases determine the extent of coverage but rather a starting point. Entrepreneurs like myself should recognize failure as an inevitable part of the process towards achieving a greater course and registering a name most especially in the challenging society like ours.
AC: Thank you for your time
Hamraj: My pleasure always.