DOJA CULINARY COMPANY is a catering company based in Nigeria. With Doja (pronounced Door-jah) meaning to become accessible and desirable, the company focus on providing high quality food at an affordable price companies throughout Lagos and Abuja.
Here is an interview with the founder of Doja Culinary Company, Onaopemipo Dara who’s part of the Africans Building Africa movement.
- Tell us about yourself and your organization
I always wanted to be an entrepreneur with special interests in Fashion, Cuisine and Hospitality/Recreation. At the end of high school in 2008 I was sure I wanted to get an MBA. I studied Business Administration in Covenant University. I started my MBA at Lagos Business School in 2014 and during this period I learnt a lot about the social venture and impact investment approach to Entrepreneurship.
My dream for running a culinary company therefore transcended to more than just a traditional for-profit company but a social venture that strongly believes in the power of food to foster communities and solve social problems.
Doja Culinary Company (www.dojaculinary.com), established in 2016, is a Social Venture, Catering and Food Delivery company. It was born out of a need for a sustainable and conscientious food company that did not compromise quality, taste and service details and yet was flexible enough to accommodate all food needs and budgets.
- How much did you need to start your organization and how were you able to raise that capital?
I started cooking and catering for individuals and events since 2011. I did not specifically raise capital to start the business, I used what I had: pots, pans and my two hands. In 2016 when I was ready to start my company officially, I took the same approach. My first order was a home delivery. I was paid in full days before the delivery date and that was how I started.
- What are some of the challenges you face in your organization and how do you overcome those challenges?
Price Fluctuations: Nigeria’s inflation rate hit 17.6 % in August 2016. It has been in the double digits all year and it keeps rising. It affects the price of our core materials in the market directly. We mitigate against it by building relationships with suppliers, monitoring macro-economic data and using anticipatory inventory management techniques. Basically we keep our ears on the ground. We can therefore anticipate price surges, and negotiate with suppliers good prices for bulk purchases.
Staffing: Companies like ours in Nigeria have high turnover rates as there is a lack of qualified personnel for our industry, the blue collar workers commonly hired have a habit of changing jobs frequently. We mitigate against this by currently running a lean and flexible model, having one full time staff and having a wide portfolio of ad-hoc staff and contractors.
- Where do you see your organization in 5 years from now and what steps are you taking today to reach that objective?
In 5 years we hope to fully establish ourselves as the go-to company for Events, Industrial and Aviation Catering. We also hope to have opened 2 to 4 outlets within Lagos and Abuja that also specialize in single and bulk food deliveries.
- What advice would you give other entrepreneurs looking to start a business or invest in Africa?
Dream big, scale it down and start with what you have. In an emerging market like our you have to learn the ropes no matter how experienced you are, starting a new business is always like getting to know a new entity.
Africa and Nigeria, in particular, is so full of opportunities and possibilities. You just have to find your place in the scheme of things, hold tight to your dreams and work hard.