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Q&A with Oluwafemi Oyedipe, a Nigerian chocolatier and entrepreneur

Across Africa, more and more women entrepreneurs are becoming aware of the need to add value locally when it comes to making world class chocolate using Africa’s abundent cocoa resources. One entrepreneur in Nigeria who is part of this vanguard of African women chocolatiers, Oluwafemi Oyedipe, founder of LoshesChocolate, is doing just that with her bean-to-bar philosophy of chocolate making.

Here’s her story:

What does your company do?

At LoshesChocolate, we source cocoa beans locally at fair trade and craft the unique taste of each bean origin to fine chocolates in a bean-to-bar, single origin range of Chocolates. We create a variety of Chocolates from Dark, Milk, White and Dark-Milk Chocolates from Idere (Oyo State) and Ile-Oluji (Ondo State). We also provide Chocolate Chips, Cocoa Powder, Bakers Chocolate and Custom Chocolate Recipes.

In addition to our plain chocolates, we have created recipes with freshly dried fruits, chili, nuts and other natural ingredients to complement the taste and health benefits of Chocolate.

What inspired you to start your company?

We looked for value, to create a credible capacity development and a blueprint for sustainable growth. The cocoa industry provided a good opportunity to demonstrate the value of processing a raw material into a finished product.

Our journey passed through research and development, local equipment manufacture (chocolate specific and general) and local material sourcing to create a 100 percent locally sourced product ensuring that as we grow all these industries that supply resources for our chocolates will also grow and this is the sustainable growth we aim for.

We also have developed our business to support the United Nations sustainable growth goals centered around Good Health and Well-being; Gender Equality; Decent Work and Economic Growth; and Sustainable Cities and Communities. This is an intentional attempt to add value to where we work and conduct our business.

Why should anyone use your service or product?

Quality – our chocolates are made from carefully selected cocoa beans without any additives or preservatives and are made to the highest level of quality attainable with artisan chocolates, providing the full health and mood benefits of cocoa.

Hand Crafted – our chocolates are single origin chocolates, each with a unique set of flavors from cocoa origins and preserved into the final chocolates to create a diverse sensual experience.

Variety – our wide variety of chocolates guarantees satisfaction to meet the most diverse taste preferences.

Fresh Chocolates / Custom Recipes – reduced time between production and consumption and flexibility to meet a wide variety of chocolate needs.

Home made – made locally yet made to the highest standard of chocolates in their class, and a means of improving the local economy.

Tell us a little about your team

I am both the CEO and the production and operations manager. I have a packaging manager who controls our packaging and the ladies that work with the cocoa beans through the various stages of transforming the cocoa into chocolates. My husband provides technical consultation in the design and selection of equipment.

It is a boutique team with a positive culture and integrity to always do what we have said we will do and we care for each other. We are not only focused on what we make but on how we make the chocolates.

Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?

Well, after I completed my undergraduate studies in 2005, I realized I had a flare for creativity and a passion to use my hands to create beautiful things. Though I kept a 9-5 working job, I had a stint in makeup artistry where I trained with a famous UK brand and did makeup for brides during the weekends. I even began to distribute renowned make-up brands at one point, but I still felt unfulfilled. Then in 2011, after completing an MSC program in Human Resources Management from Scotland, I moved to Ghana and whilst living and working (volunteering ) I developed a very keen interest in baking and cooking up deserts. So in my spare time I would bake cupcakes, cakes frosted with chocolate ganaches for friends and family, and before I knew it I began to cater to a wider community of dessert lovers. Then my business Creme Indulgence was birthed and I created deserts for special occasions. Then my family and I had to return home to Nigeria, so armed with a masters degree and some years of work experience I got a job as an HR Manager. After a couple of years I yearned for more, and I sought ways to add impact in our society, and so LoshesChocolate was born.

What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?

To consistently provide value in the African economy by processing a Natural resource (Cocoa) into finished products. Along the way there will be significant capacity development, knowledge sharing, improving equipment manufacture capacity and impacting the communities, which will ultimately bring tangible, measurable, achievable and sustainable growth.

The Loshes Chocolate brand will be synonymous with the best type of Chocolate / Cocoa finished product and associated with unwavering quality in Africa and in the global community. This is our dream!

What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?

The ability to conceive an idea, implement the idea and experience the satisfaction and value it brings to the lives of people. All these factors lead to building a successful brand and this satisfies my entrepreneurial thirst.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?

Let the passion and reason “WHY” be defined with unwavering conviction and this serves as a compass for steering the business.

Interview by Lionesses of Africa

About the author

Themba Mashaba

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