Nigeria’s landscape is changing, with young people realising that entrepreneurship is the surest way of escaping poverty and financial dependence.
Oke Victoria Onyekachukwu happens to be one of those young people who believe that Nigeria is a goldmine and that problem solvers are value creators.
She is the founder and chief executive officer of Vickkypearl Cakes, a start-up that specialises in the production of fresh cakes in Lagos and its environs.
Victoria is also the founder of Pearlie Fashion, a firm that produces and sells both female and male accessories. This makes her a chief executive officer of two firms. Surprisingly, she founded these two firms as an undergraduate at the Federal University of Technology, Akure.
Victoria has over five years of experience in baking and catering.
She was inspired to establish Vickkypearl Cakes by her strong passion for designs and creativity, with a passion for recreating beautiful cake decorations seen in parties and events she attended.
She had been baking cakes for family and friends for free before making it a business in 2015, after undergoing company registration procedures.
“I believed in my artistic, creative mind. I believed I could make cakes as beautiful as those ones seen at parties and events and I could make exactly what others wanted or dreamed about. Entrepreneurship, for me, is in-born as I never did it basically to augment my allowance,” the baker tells Start-Up Digest.
Before establishing her business in 2015, Oke had attended a catering school to learn designs and gain more knowledge of cake-making from professionals. After some time, she started taking some online courses to learn global trends in the two areas.
The then undergraduate started her business with no initial capital. The entrepreneur explains that when she started, most of her clients would always pay upfront for cakes, which often enabled her to buy the ingredients needed for baking and decoration.
Oke says that despite the challenges in the economy, her business still sees growth, with patronage from new customers increasing by leaps and bounds.
“Overtime since starting, I have got contracts to supply cakes at the places I buy ingredients to make cakes for my customers. The business has grown dramatically such that I now have enough resources to buy modern baking equipment for the business.”
“Since starting two years ago, I have been contracted to make several weddings cakes and so many birthdays and bridal showers cakes,” Oke discloses.
Oke has continued to educate herself more to remain relevant. She believes that one can never learn enough in any industry. She says that social media has made a positive impact on her business as some of her customers patronise her using various social media channels.
Oke says she will tell her younger self to brand herself no matter the cost. She will also want her younger self to start early, as failing early guarantees future success.
The young entrepreneur says the country’s huge infrastructural gaps have remained a major impediment to her business.
“Bad road is really a big challenge to my business. It is really affecting delivery. Where I could have taken a taxi, I will, sometimes, walk for fear of pot-holes that can cause cracks on the cake,” she says.
“Poor power supply is also a big challenge to my business. I do most of my baking at night. The poor power supply has affected my business and increased my production cost because most times I have to make use of a generator or lamps.
“Another challenge facing my business is the rising cost of baking items in the market and the unwillingness of customers to pay more. Most of them want good cakes for cheaper prices despite high cost of production,” the young entrepreneur explains.
She urges governments at all levels to provide critical infrastructure such as steady power supply and good roads, stating that Nigeria cannot drive its industrialisation strategy in the absence of infrastructure.
When asked how the country’s low consumer purchasing power has impacted her business, she says, “The business at a point had a decline because customers couldn’t afford to buy the size of cake they wanted. So they ended up requesting smaller sizes or cupcakes, but this period happens to be my good moment because I have suddenly become the cupcake mistress.”
“I make more cupcakes now than ever. There was a time I made 300 cupcakes and sold them in less than a week. During Valentine period last year, I was wowed. Most orders now are cupcakes. I now remind people that I still make eight, ten and twelve inches cakes,” she further states.