Gbubemi Aibangbee: Providing affordable food for Nigerians through technology
Gbubemi Vera Aibangbee is the co-founder and managing partner of Madam Sabi Market Services, a pioneer online-based foodstuff shopping website in Nigeria (www.madamsabi.com). It is a premier shopping solutions provider that offers a platform for easy and convenient shopping of top quality Nigerian food staple at cheap prices.
Madam Sabi Market offers products such as palm oil, fresh tomatoes, beans, green apples and stockfish, among others.
It services a clientele base of private individuals and corporate organisations.
Gbubemi worked for several years before setting up this firm. After her National Youth Service Corps in 2001, she worked for a telecommunication multinational and later left to raise a family. She had her fair share of failures, but these turned out to be the learning curve.
Every business has an inspiration. What exactly inspired Gbubemi to set up this business?
“When Madam Sabi was conceptualised, the idea was to create a value proposition to support the lives of working women and overwhelmed mothers,” she explains.
“We also wanted an identity that hinted a feminine association, a business name with an indigenous ring to it and yet not tied to any particular ethnicity,” she adds.
Gbubemi says that ‘Madam Sabi’ in local parlance captures the essence or attitude of a knowledgeable woman with a wealth of experience.
According to the entrepreneur, the business wanted confidence to shine forth through its brand name.
“Every Pidgin-English speaking Nigerian knows what to ‘Sabi’ means. However, new facets and possibilities for the business soon emerged and we discovered the potential to do so much more with the brand. It has evolved beyond providing a reliable local service to powerfully impacting the businesses of female farmers and foodstuff traders,” she states.
The founders started out with personal assets such as our computers, personal vehicles, basic appliances used in the kitchen and the Internet. They also built a website to facilitate the product offering.
‘Madam Sabi’ at the beginning started off providing services to a handful of customers. But as online shopping for foodstuff gradually became more acceptable, the reputation of credibility it had built over the years began to pay off.
“Now it has become a question of who gives the most value in this industry and we are proud to say we are right in the fore-front of being the most preferred,” she proudly says.
She explains that her vision for the next level includes an expanded clientele base and financial partnership.
Every business has (or has seen) peculiar challenges. For ‘Madam Sabi’, the first challenge was gaining the trust and confidence of customers. However, the firm was able to overcome this by providing consistent and transparent services to its customers.
“With consistency and transparency over the years, we proved ourselves in that regard and built a reliable reputation in this field. The other significant challenge we encounter is that of expensive cost of power supply and the difficulty/unpredictability of logistics. Sometimes things do not always go as smoothly as we hope,” she says.
The entrepreneur tells Start-Up Digest that continuous improvement and strategy innovation are keys to overcoming many challenges.
“We keep challenging ourselves to do better than our last work. We measure our output through customer feedback and continuously devise new methods to do things better,” she says.
Gbubemi wants the government to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurs like her to thrive.
“Our major operations for now are in Lagos and Madam Sabi, like all other businesses on the go, suffers the same issues arising from the lack of an enabling environment to do business such as inadequate infrastructural amenities like power supply and poor transportation network. With most roads in poor shape, the available decent roads are over-used and often congested,” she points out.
She says it is important that government find a lasting solution to the power supply situation in the country, as the cost of privately providing power to operate a business often defeats the purpose for starting the venture in the first place.
She recommends that government should explore the possibility of utilising the waterways for faster logistical commute for small businesses and the like to ease the pressure on the roads.
On what she would you tell her younger self, she says, “I love what I do and I have no regrets about how my career path has progressed thus far.”
However, Gbubemi says she would tell her younger self to have an early formal and informal exposure to business education.
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