As a young man determined not to be lost in the jungle of unemployment, Kareem Yunus went into small scale manufacturing of plantain flour, simply packing them in transparent cellophane bags and attaching a label. He later delved into bean flour production. He was overjoyed when he got a call to supply 20 cartons each of the products. “I have finally arrived!”, he said to himself. He packaged the products and took it to the buyers. Immediately the buyers got hold of the products, they identified themselves as NAFDAC officials!
“Young man, so you are the one killing people! You are manufacturing without NAFDAC number! You are under arrest!”, leader of the officials said to him.
Fear gripped him and a lot followed. However, today, Yunus has turned that experience into a serious growing concern called Danyus Foods Ltd.
Speaking on CEOAfrica’s ‘Meet your African CEO’ on Friday, the young boss shed light on his journey into the business world, the opportunities, challenges as well as the future of Danyus Foods.
On the conditions he got from NAFDAC, the Owo, Ondo State born graduate of Banking and Finance from Adekune Ajasin University Akungba-Akoko, said he was directed to register his company with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), build or acquire a factory for production and obtain NAFDAC number for his products.
He said he was also directed not to supply his products to supermarkets or other market places until he fulfilled those conditions was inspected.
“When I heard these conditions, I was downcast but I was determined not to fail. My only options were only customers in offices. I worked hard and managed to register my company and get a NAFDAC number. The factory took time. I just called a bricklayer and arranged with him that he would be buying blocks and setting up the building each time I give him any small money. That was how I completed it bit by bit”.
The journey so far
Yinus said he started the business after saving up to N500,000 from the various small teaching gigs he organised while in NYSC. But he advised intending entrepreneurs not to wait for large sums of money before making a move.
He said: “When I conducted my feasibility study, I realised I needed about N11million. But where would I get the money from. I started with what I had then. After succeeding with the little money, I was able to get a small loan from the Bank of Industry to beef up the business. So, my advise to intending entrepreneurs is that even if you have N20,000 or N5000, just start something and you will see it grow. Don’t wait till when you have that large sum because it may never come”.
He also advised that young people should not be scared to “take risks and start small”.
“When my brother returned from NYSC, he had N200,000 saved up. But he ended up spending a larger part of it searching for a job. So, when I came back with my own, I vowed that I was not going to fritter the money away searching for non-existent job”, Yunus explained.
He said further that he chose unripe plantain flour because of its health benefits.
According to the young manufacturer, electricity supply is the greatest challenge. He however added that outrageous taxes and cost of export are areas government need to look into.
“There was a day I got a call to send some packs of plantain flour to a customer. The total value of the products was N10,000 but when I got to the post office, I was billed N80,000 after weighing. Government need to look into the cost of sending our Nigerian products out of the country because there is high demand for them. That is how we can promote and add value to Made in Nigeria products”
Danyus Foods in the future
Today, Danyus foods has a staff strength of 35 and the products are competing well in the market, Yunus said.
He added that he plans to go public and ensure that the company outlives him.
On where he sees himself in the next five years, Yinus said: “I want my products to be known and consumed even outside the country and want to be counted among major manufacturers such that if you are talking about Dangote, you should also be talking about Danyus at the same time”.