Good health and well-being are fundamental pillars of a fulfilling and productive life. Achieving optimal physical, mental, and emotional health empowers individuals to lead a balanced and meaningful existence. Regular exercise, a nutritious diet, and sufficient rest contribute to physical wellness, while addressing mental and emotional needs through mindfulness and stress management enhances overall well-being.
And getting it across to the International Space not just be stressful. The logistics with the Nigerian markets is also very stressed because of what's next, what's a very terrible cost in us a lot. And now that as well, subsidy removal within Nigerian markets, it's even more difficult because the cost of transportation of moving your goods from the farm down to the markets or even down to the production side is a lot of money as well.
Hello and welcome to Rethink What Matters, The podcast dedicated to aligning the economy with the economy and everyone. For improved business performance, stronger families, and a greener, cooler planet.
And today I'm joined by Joy Badiki of B'kem Foods in Lagos State, Nigeria. We're going to be discussing good health and well-being.
Thank you so much for having me.
It's great. Great to be speaking with you. So if you could start off with some. Yeah. If you could please explain a little bit about BKem Foods and what you're doing there.
All right. So Bkem Foods is an indigenous agrifood production and processing company, S.L. in the heart of Lagos State Nigeria and approved by NAVAK which is a food processor agency in Nigeria. So being able to produce food products that are consumable according to Nigerian law and standard. So basically what we do is that we farm and we're process food products such as plantains and snails, and we process them into finished product for local and international markets.
So we process them into plantain flour whereby people can use it for baking biscuits, cakes and pancakes. Our process snail shells into cashew for food, for food, for food, feed for animals. So this is basically what we do to consumers.
Okay. And what's been the driver for the business?
Okay. So the drive was when I lost my grandfather to diabetes. And it has been it was a very terrible moment because he raised me. And the fact that losing a loved one to a disease that actually can be controlled and managed by what we consume when we consume and how we consume it makes me feel like there needs to be a lot of education.
I would say not of of what a lot of information should be put out there for people to be aware of what they consume that affects their general well-being. So that is the drive.
Okay. And and how have you been able to, you know, pursue that agenda of educating people? Is it locally that you do that or do you try and do this across Nigeria?
Okay. So locally, where. Yes, we are doing that locally. You know, we are doing grassroots communications. We put up a lot of strategy meetings kind of or awareness program that we all do within our county, within churches, because Nigeria is a very religious country. So we're putting a lot of awareness out there to church programs, to our speeches.
Yes. When do you have a meeting date with a patient? We try to go there to have health and health talks and sensitization. So at least that way we've been able to get across to grassroots people so far.
Okay. Right. And so what are people eating generally? You know, in in Nigeria, they're on a lot eating them healthily or are they eating what sorts of food or the eating?
I think most of the food that they eat basically in Nigeria of carbohydrates related foods from rice is starchy foods. A lot of people consume a lot of scratch and consumes a lot of soda. People don't understand and they don't understand the food balance kind of thing. Or did they just live their lives and wait to doctors, placed them on diets before they eat?
Right. So we are trying to sensitize people that you don't need to wait to that till you get to that stage, especially when you're even younger. You need to start early because you are the complete definition of what you eat. So you need to start and so that is the sensitization we're doing. A lot of people just want to show that a lot of people don't really exercise and tell you Nigerian stress when the traffic is a loss ready for them to be going to the gym and they don't even eat the a balanced diet.
It's a lot of junk everywhere and all of that. So it's okay.
Sounds like the world over maybe. So I don't know if it's any worse in Nigeria, but do they are you eating a lot of processed food over there, then?
Yes, it would take a lot of processed food. It would take a lot of finished food, especially in Lagos, because people believe they don't even have time to go off to farm fresh food. So they take what is available. So a lot of people consume a lot a lot of processed food. Yes. In Lagos, especially.
So the challenges of delivering SDG three good health and wellbeing. You did a great job there, obviously with your business. So it really comes down to here. What are the challenges in running a food business, food production business like yours, for example? What about inconsistent power supply? And that can be a challenge.
We have numerous challenges in Lagos, Nigeria, and I wouldn't even lie about that because some of the challenges are logistic. We have logistics challenges like bringing the products fresh from the farms down to the factory. To enter the forces is a lot of challenge of staffing. You know, get some people who understand the vision and the mission. It's a lot of challenges as well and gets in.
As you said, power supply is one major challenge. Currently, we are on the subsidy in the country with fuel and also there are numerous challenges, but the major, major one currently is logistics.
And with all those logistical challenges, then.
Okay, so logistical challenges is one of the things is transporting that product from the farm, those to the factory get something up for us to our consumers. Let's say now we want to bring up products to the UK of bringing up product to the UK using maybe DHL or one of these air means of transportation. We we're in cages and it's quite expensive in Nigeria and a lot of customers will like, Oh, why should I pay this much over just shipping to UK whereby the product is made when as expensive as the cost for logistics.
So it's a major challenge for us like South Africa. Even taking our make one of the issues, bringing it from the farm and the road transport issue like the network, the road network is really terrible. So there are a lot of challenges.
But I would have thought that just the local market would be sufficient. Do you also need to export as well?
Yes, because a lot of Nigerians that live in the country, greener pastures, a lot of people want to get better life for themselves. So they are leaving the country daily and they still want to have a taste of African food. And when they go to sometimes, they want to just want us to like, deliver this product down to the UK, delivered to South Africa and all of that.
Beyond the African market, the Nigerian market and getting it across to the international space in of stressful. The logistics with the Nigerian markets is also very stressful because of what networks are very terrible costing us a lot. And now that there's subsidy removal within Nigerian markets, it's even more difficult because the cost of transportation of moving your goods from the farm down to the markets or even down to the production side is a lot of money as well now.
Okay. And all that is a lot of competition from bigger companies making it even more difficult.
Yes. Yes. The competition, this team as well. But yet there's market for everyone.
Okay, That's great. So that's great to know, and in terms of the workforce, then of how many skilled people, you know, available to you.
Okay. So right now we have a team of seven people and four with people who are work with us permanently. And it's really challenging to be able to pay these skilled workers because we are a small group, so pay them. It's a little bit challenging and there are many people on contracts like contract. So the been paid based on commission and all of that.
So let's get some people like people who are really deserving, they stay with you for a while and move on because everybody wants to be good salary of course, and here we are. And none of these things that really restricts Lane from gets in more hands a lot of policies from government that is so not favorable. So all of these challenges we retain in the best means paying them the best amount of money.
Yes. To actually make it competitive for us to stay with them. But it's been challenging upping the game in terms of salary running difficult. It's been difficult to be there. So, you know, it's a lot.
Because you're creating good, healthy food sustainably. Does that attract people? Are they interested in working for you because because of your mission.
Your support, not everybody wants to work as free workers or freelancer or whatever, But yes, we can do is get an intern and an intern. We still have to talk them on what to do and how to do it. But compared to people who already have this queue of people with skills, we want a good price in terms of salary, but people can go with practically anything and well, you still have to do the work.
You have to tell them, don't these at this time send emails like these, talk like this to customers and all of that. So it's really draining, you know, And after a while I see one year it's more and then moved on because they've got the experience. The eyes are open to better opportunities. They have the work experience with you already, so move on to it.
So it's stressful. So you have to start looking for a new set of people, training them again. It's draining. Is draining.
Yeah, I can imagine how how hard that might be. And so in terms of, you know, being able to recruit people via people is, yeah, income inequality is playing a part. Yes, generally.
Yes. Inequality in terms of recruiting people, we tried to balance it, but we at the same time, we don't discriminate. As long as you have the right skills to offer whether you are female, gender and gender. As far as you know what you want to do, you understand the vision and the mission of the organization and you can keep up to it.
We are good to go irrespective of the gender, but majorly, when it comes to the farm, we use more men because it's more of hard walk there. So when it comes to marketing and female related or office related jobs, we do more of women. So currently we are seven, we have four guys and we have three ladies. So of us and are expression.
Okay, so you're doing your bit to help close the gap, if you like, between.
Yes, yes, yes we are. As far as we have what it takes.
Right. So I can see there are many challenges, but let's talk a little bit on the positive side. Can we you know, what are the most positive side of SDG three, SDG three good health and wellbeing in Nigeria? One of the good things we can say.
Okay, it's really fulfilling when you get testimonies and feedbacks from people that sees when you started eating this particular product from the camp food days, they feel better that she will lie to us and maybe their blood she got dropped and and they're getting healthier. It's it's it's the best thing it's social it's better give them money because I would say is better than the money completely.
But please the fact that you're solving a problem that people feel okay with themselves, is this really reviving for us, regardless of our challenges, regardless of how tired that be, when people give us such feedback to the testimonies, it's it's amazing.
And so what is the trend in Nigeria with respect to good health and well-being? Is it a trend that people are starting to think more and more they want to live healthily or they're just just really too busy trying to survive day to day?
Yeah, so people are just trying to survive day to day, especially in the largest city in Africa, which is like the biggest economic power. Lagos Right. We had the whole thing happen. People just want to want to survive. People want to pay their bills. They don't care about eating right. And no, until a doctor placed them on a diet that you are sick, your blood sugar is high.
You need to be eating more things before people take it seriously. So we've not gotten to that level yet to Nigeria with the more conscious of their intake and more conscious of the health, be saying, no, we are not there yet.
Right. Okay. Okay. And so how else do you think that you can help Nigeria improve?
SDG three is just by creating more awareness. That's the truth. It's it's about creating project. I keep telling my story about the loss of my grandfather. I keep telling people, I keep sharing my experiences. So when people hear all this, wow. And it's it's getting very tough, but it's not one person's job. We can only contribute. We can't.
There's a major person who would finish the whole work. We can only contribute to solving this problem. And that's what we are doing in our own and in our own space. So it's a lot of work and we hope to get there.
Okay. And what are the many mental health challenges in the local area, like there in Nigeria? In Lagos?
Yes, there's a lot of challenges, especially in child mortality rates. It's really high and malnutrition among young people and children. It's really, really annoying. The fact that Nigeria is so blessed with good atmosphere, good weather, good land of famine everywhere people can eat fresh in hell. This is what we still suffer greatly with malnutrition. We still suffer greatly with mortality rates and even people making small child mobile who just put to bed, you know, for 15.
Well, it's it's really heartbreaking. It's disheartening. But we hope to get there.
Yeah, absolutely. I think food is a big part of achieving that, isn't it? What we all what we eat, as you say?
Yes, we are definitely what we eat. No matter how much you go to the gym to even reduce your calories, if you don't start from the kitchen, you are still joking in your kitchen. Start first. If you if you are looking at reducing maybe ten KGs you only want to drop in KGs dropping punds, whatever you're doing, your food intake controls every other thing.
And people need to get this right.
Okay. What do you sell more than anything from Bkem Foods? What's the most popular product that you sell out?
Our plantain four, our snails. They are. That's the basic things like the most probably with products that's yes we that's is really moving with my kids people want to eat snails but funnily enough not every Nigerians eat snails not every Nigerian not there are some parts of Nigerians that they don't take. Snail is part of. Yeah, relogious belief that's not allowed in terms of their religion.
But there's still a large market for reach like the demand is more than the demand is currently more than just supply. And therefore there are a lot of people out there who understand the nutritional value of snails. A lot of people understand the nutritional value of plantain, even though it's more expensive than all the common foods around. So it takes a lot to talk to people and tell them the health benefits.
So do you maybe patronize something.
That can Did you say not snails? What type of snail is it? The thing that you get that.
In Africa we have two major type of snails. We have a Patina and Archachatina marginata and we have seen two major types like African giant snails that we have. And these two types of snails. So this flower that is was this. And there is another one that is just for consumption, like just for consumption.
So we do a lot of women in power means women trainees and how to start snail farming so that people can be aware. We empower people completely free. We do it via social media with telegrams and WhatsApp classes where people because it's really costs nothing to start a snail farm in Nigeria as far as you have a good environment to like farm the snails and all other things, the feeding is so affordable, no need to break the bank to take care of that.
So we do things. So that's great, that's great. And the fun part of it is that's no part of which is a waste, no part of what's rational. Yes, from every part of it, you can generate some of the new from the snail itself. We can sell it and get your money from the snail shell. It can be used for close ups.
It can be processing to consume as I say, next for for feeding all the animals and for beauty products. So no part of it was a waste.
With the snails is that's a very simple thing to cook, is it?
If you go to our Instagram page, you will see how we have compared some snails We write, we do it on how to prepare. Snails like out became slits in Instagram. So basically the most popular food in Nigeria is jollof Rice. Yes, right. So we do have prices for everybody, regardless of your region, regardless of your tribe, because nature's way of from African jollof or Nigerian to real food.
So people have in parties and everything wants jollof rice too. Yes. So and if they're eating jollof rice, we the chicken, then we need to do snails.
So the challenge is then in good health and well-being, would it be then around the health and medical side of things, the provision of healthcare to people.
When it comes to health care issue? I leave that to the government because I think the government is not really doing enough in terms of health care in Nigeria and the policy makers and the leaders that would rather travel outside come to the UK for treatment rather than invest here in Nigeria for the health care space. So the health care that is to the government, it's not, but we're hoping for the best.
Yeah. What about access to finance? Is that difficult for you to in running a business in Nigeria?
Yes, it is. Get access to finances. It's a little bit difficult. But one thing I realize is because I have banking experience, it has really helped me. If once you understand your books in terms of your identity and your credit, your inflow, your cash flow, if you have a proper statement of account for your business, not using your personal accounts for the company's accounts and all of that, once you have a good books and balancing as you're doing the right thing, the interest there then best invested into your business.
Get interested in giving you loans or or the interest rates may be very high. So but you would definitely get something the bank of industries. So we also want your books that tidy up very well. Do you get funding Still angels in various stores also everywhere but the banks on how do you spend your products? Why should they invest in it?
So I still to be a little bit challenging initially, but once you understand the trick, you would get to turn.
Okay, but how representative is Lagos State of Nigeria more widely?
Because this is very big. Oh, that's well populated. And it's the commerce. Yes. It's like everybody does business. And if you're coming from anywhere in the world, you need to get to know your space to understand. Okay, what do you need to sell to this people? How do you need to sell it? So the other states, it's not the capitals, it's not the capital of Nigeria.
But in terms of commercial space, logistics is automatable. That's just not true. It's the population. It's very huge. We have huge population in Lagos and then the buying power of Lagos state people is very high. So the growth space is the real. A lot of shipping companies are here, you know, when they're importing directly gets to Lagos, people collates in Lagos and it's being distributed to other parts of the country.
So everybody looks up. They all the cops in Lagos to clear the containers or shipping products. Oh, what about these shipping to the point you realize, and Lagos State is huge, right?
I will love to see you in Lagos State. So where are you from? Around. I can take you around.
I'd love to stop. Great. I've got to do that.
You know, How are you looking for customers in the UK?
Yes, we're open. We're open to desperate markets. Companies. Who wants to expand into Africa? Our partnership. We're open into all of that. We are. We are ready for business. So if it's an internship, we're here in Nigeria.
And how how can people get a hold of you then join if they want to? Where's where should they go to reach? How can they reach you?
All right. So they can check us out on LinkedIn at the Bkem Foods. Or my personal page as Joy Badiki .They can check me out on Instagram at the Bkem Foods on all our social media pages at B, K, E, M underscore FOODS.
That's been a great insights Joy into SDG three Good health and wellbeing there in Lagos State, Nigeria in Nigeria more generally. Thank you very much for your time.
Thank you so much. Thank you so much.