Ayodeji Megbope is the founder of NO LEFT-OVERS, a full-scale catering service which started with a capital of N1, 000.
Although she grew up in a family that valued education, Megbope was doing badly academically and this was because she was being abused by a close family member under her parents’ roof.
Megbope’s mom was unaware of this despite being a stay-at-home mom. Megbope couldn’t tell anyone because nobody believed her and so, this family member continued to prey on her.
After the second attempt at WAEC and she failed, her father gave up on her and then asked her to sort herself.
According to her, people thought she would make nothing out of her life.
Megbope decided to attend a shorthand and secretarial school and then proceeded to Corona Schools, Ikoyi where she worked for 20 years before resigning as she thought she could do more with her hands.
Her journey into selling moi moi started the day her sister-in-law visited her while she was making moi moi and she grudgingly gave her some to taste.
In this episode of KING WOMEN, Megbope Ayodeji shares her the bitter-sweet experience of how she started her company, “No Left-Overs” with selling moi moi.
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There was a day and that was the turning point in my life. It didn’t look like anything was going to happen that day. I cried to my husband and said there was no food. I was very upset, I was sad, I was very depressed, I had cried that morning and told him, “there’s no food, the children will soon come back from school, there’s no food for them to eat.”
My husband in his usual manner, very calm, said there’s no problem. I said, “really?” He said, “there’s no problem.” Then he reached out to his breast pocket, then in my mind, I was like “oh my God,” so, this guy has been saving money and he didn’t tell me anything. I was so sure it wasn’t cash because his breast pocket was so flat and for him to have that look on his face, that confident joyful, peaceful look, I was confident that it was a cheque, maybe he had written the cheque and he wanted to surprise me. I was like “oh my God, a big bang result is just going to happen.”
Only for my husband to bring out a thousand naira and he stretched it, smiling, he said, “Ayo, I trust you, this money is like my last card but I trust you that you will turn this money around because you are a virtuous woman.”
And I looked at him if there was no lesson I learned from my mom, I learned the lesson of the instruction she gave me when I was about getting married.
She said to me, “ Ayo, as you are getting married, life will deal with you but listen, I will give you a charm that will make your marriage last, that charm is invisible. It’s a bottle of water, when you are angry, take a spoon, don’t swallow it, when the anger abates, swallow it.” That day I remembered the charm.
I was angry when my husband gave me that money. That day, I was almost concluding that my husband was living in denial. “How can he be smiling with N1, 000? How can he be telling me that I can make something out of it?” I kept quiet, he left for work and I had a good cry and then I heard God said to me, “go to the market and buy food for these children, at least you have N1, 000, there are people that don’t have it.”
So I went to the market that day and I brainstormed on what can I actually do with this N1, 000. I just felt, oh beans! I can cook beans, I can make Akara from beans, I can make moi moi from beans and they won’t even realize they are eating the same thing. At least, that’s like three days meal, so I bought beans and I just heard
Some people ask me at this point that how do you hear God and I say to them “see, the best time to learn how to hear God is when you are going through a wilderness experience because then, you are actually alone. There’s nobody to distract you.”
So, I’ve learned to recognize the voice of God in my wilderness experience and so I made Moi Moi that night and coincidentally that day, my very very dramatic sister-in-law came in and she perceived the aroma of the moi moi. I was really praying that she would not because I was just like my goodness, this moi moi I have calculated how many days it was going to take us and she said, “Ayo, can I have a taste of what you are cooking?”
Reluctantly I gave it to her and she liked it and she said to me, “how much would it cost me to get this?” and I said I made it with a thousand naira and she gave me a thousand naira and said I’ll be waiting for you tomorrow. I was too glad because in my mind I was like this one I’ve given her, I’m sure I would take my money back. So I made for her the next day and she took it.
She gave some of her friends, I also gave some of my neighbors. Two of her friends she gave it to liked it and said, “the moi moi is quite tasty, did you buy it, did someone make it for you or did you make it?” and then she said “no, my sister-in-law made it for me.”
And they were like “can you ask her to make for us?” and so she called me and I said “oh yes, I can make it for them why not” and she said how much will they bring?” and I said, “let them bring one thousand naira.”
Some neighbors I gave also liked it and they asked the same question and I said one thousand naira when I saw that happened, I thought and said, maybe I should start selling this moi moi o. so I started telling family and friends.
I tell them I make moi moi and they’ll say, “really, how do you sell?” And I said, I don’t really sell like that, I said, “just give me a thousand naira and I will give you a bag of moi moi and that was how it started.”
Family and friends, I started telling church members, I told it to a lot of people and people were buying and I was able to save N100 every day from my sales. It got to a point, I knew that I needed to take this to a larger market. I was very happy that I was making something with my hands.
It was a bitter-sweet experience. I can never forget those days of waking up at 3 am to wash beans, there would be no light. We were staying on the third floor of a four-storeyed building. 5 am, I’ve taken my bucket of beans. I would have told the guy grinding beans. My husband will wake up with me, he’ll hold the torch and we will go grind the beans together.
Sometimes, I’ll get to that woman’s house, she’s not awake and I’ll shout “Mama, we want to grind beans o.” I remember washing beans one day and when I finished washing the beans, everything poured. I cried.
My husband asked why I was crying, I showed him the beans on the floor. My back was paining me, my legs were paining me. He said don’t worry and started packing it and washed it again.