A man in his early 40s and father of two, Mr Chibueze Damian, has found solace in his thriving business of selling bean cakes, otherwise known as akara, in the Mushin area of Lagos State.
The entrepreneur, popularly known in Mushin as ‘Baba Akara,’ said he started the business sometime in 1998, roughly 25-years ago, after a disappointment from his former boss who runs a restaurant somewhere around the state.
Speaking with our correspondent, the Ebonyi-State born man mentioned that through the business, he has been able to build houses and send his children to school.
“When I came to Lagos, I worked in a restaurant, but after serving my boss, he disappointed me. After the disappointment, I met a woman, my girlfriend then, who was frying akara and doing other things. I joined her.
“Over the years, I have built houses with the proceedings from my business and sent my children to school,” he said.
Our correspondent who observed the activities at the akara spot noticed that Chibueze had so many patronages – residents of the area, passersby, dispatch riders, bread sellers, pap sellers, those who find the delicacy satisfying and even children, who were waiting for their turns to be served.
Baba Akara said, “Those selling pap (koko) buy in wholesale, while passersby, bread sellers, children and any other person who needs it buy in retail. We also make deliveries, especially to those who need it for their functions. As you can see, someone has already paid for this particular one that is almost ready for her function.”
Despite the many discouraging words and challenges Baba Akara has encountered from different quarters, he is not relenting as he also wishes to be known internationally through the business.
He also recounted how he started selling akara with just one Derica of beans while also recounting his losses.
“I got a lot of discouragement from this business, but as a man of my word, and as far as I am getting my daily bread here, I continued the business.
“I started with one Derica. I lost some money but I did not lose hope because I knew that one day, God would intervene. Now, I thank God that I started this business.
“I don’t really know how much I make on a daily basis because it is my wife that takes account of the sales. All I know is that we make money from this little business to take care of our needs,” he added.
He added that the pressing challenges he is encountering in the business at the moment are lack of workers and high cost of groundnut oil in the market.
“The challenges I am facing right now in this business is that I do not have workers to help me; and things are now very expensive too. When I started this business, I usually bought a gallon of oil at N2,000, but now, I buy it at N36,000, and it is what we buy that we would sell.
“I wish to take this business to the international level because I don’t want to remain in this place,” he also said.
He advised Nigerian youths not to be discouraged by anything but to be determined to do what they are set to do.
Jeremiah Chibueze, Baba Akara’s son, however, recounted how he was bullied by fellow students while he was growing up because of his father’s choice of business.
According to the 400-level student of Ebonyi State University, he grew a thick skin as the years went by, while mentioning that he is the one currently managing his father’s social media accounts and taking online orders.
“I grew up seeing my father doing this business and he has raised us with the proceeds. In my secondary school days, I was always bullied by some students in school, who called me ‘Akara Boy’ because my father sells Akara, but now, I am proud to say that this is my father’s business.
“I don’t want to say anything about expansion, all I would want people to know is that they should watch out for our progress,” he said.