So, I heard you are a lawyer? Tell me more about yourself and how you started your business
Ok, firstly, I am Ziora, a lawyer by profession and I was called to bar about five years ago. I actually started my business Zlucious foods and nuts by chance. It was registered originally as a wrong business name and I went ahead to redo it, but the wrong business name was exactly what I needed and currently use.
I am into the processing and production of foreign foods and nuts like cashew, groundnut, and tiger nuts which are all approved by NAFDAC. I also package eggs and foreign fruits and vegetables – lemon, apple, celery, parsley and a couple of others. Zlucious foods also focuses on the bulk and wholesale distribution of these items.
This sounds really interesting, especially to a food lover like me. So do you have major clients to whom you supply?
Yes, so I supply majorly to the Enugu branches of a large retail supermarket in Nigeria. I also supply to other supermarkets around Enugu.
How were you able to secure this opportunity with a big retail supermarket?
Well, I reached out to a couple of supermarkets and I received favourable feedback from this particular retail market. However, the business name I wanted to use was registered for nuts alone, and the supermarket had enough in stock. I was asked if I could deliver eggs, foreign fruits and vegetables, which I could, but the business name was not suitable for that purpose.
I realized that the business name I registered as a mistake was good enough for it, so I told them, we created a contract, and that was how I started. In summary, I would have to say opportunity, preparedness and favour, gave me access to the scale my business currently has.
Wow, that sounds quite big. I’m sure it required a lot of capital, how were you able to fund such a capital-intensive business?
You are right, I mentioned before how I started my business by chance. To be honest, I didn’t have enough capital, but a friend of mine introduced me to Shecluded, and I reached out to the CEO, told her about my business and filled out some documents. I never knew that I could get funding for my business in under 24 hours!
The most amazing part was that the Shecluded team shared free accounting resources which helped in monitoring the health of my business.
I feel your excitement, so what impact did the funding make on your business?
When I supplied the new set of goods, everyone was so amazed because I exceeded the usual amount requested by the clients. Shecluded helped me increase the capacity of my business and meet up with the demands of my customers.
Wow, this is really enlightening. I know some people are loan adverse for various reasons, so how was your repayment experience with Shecluded?
Due to my business growth, I was most times able to repay my loan within 2 weeks or before the maturity date. Also, the policy, didn’t require me to pay the full interest rate due, but just for as long as I borrowed. Shecluded supported me with a good starting, landing and backup plan. I wish many other women would know and leverage this opportunity to upscale their business.
I would love to know some of the challenges you faced in running your business, could you tell me some?
Well, the major issue I face now is navigating the Eastern region. Some of the policies tend to be deteriorating on business owners, and the COVID-19 contributed a fair share to it. Also, the increase in the exchange rate has definitely increased the cost of raw materials.
During the early stages of my business, I also got defrauded and it took a while to recover, but I have put systems in place to overcome these issues.
I am excited about your growth, so do you have any advice for other business owners out there?
Firstly, I’ll say work with integrity – use your loan for its intended purpose, and ensure you make a profit from it. Secondly, have a backup plan to repay your loans. Shecluded can only make the impact it made in my business because another borrower repaid the loan she took.
Also, avoid fraudsters and verify the integrity of your vendors to avoid being being a victim of fraud.
Those are really helpful and amazing tips; do you have any other things to share?
Yes, people have issues with loans because they have difficulties repaying, my advice is – Take enough loan to grow your business, but not so much to make you stuck. This would help your business grow with a loan rather than seeing it as a liability.
Thank you very much for interviewing with us, can we get your contact details?
Yes, my personal Instagram handle is @am_Ziora, while that of my business is @Zluciousfoods.