Today we are speaking to the brains behind one of the fastest growing brands in Nigeria Bubez Food, the makers of Bubez pap and Bubez Foundation . Apart from her innovative nature, Ij as she is called by many is a woman who loves Jesus and put Him first in all she does, so little wonder she has done so well. I first met Ij when she ran a high end boutique, I had a sewing business and made some outfits for her. After a few years when she sought God’s face concerning her business future she closed her boutique and started making pap (akamu, ogi) in her kitchen. Today what started out as a few bowls of pap sold to a few mums has expanded greatly and bubez pap is now available in several cities in Nigeria and steadily expanding… Let’s get to know Ijeoma a bit better.
Ijeoma tell us a bit about you?
My name is Ijeoma Ndukwe-Egwuronu I was born and raised in Owerri I attended the University of Calabar. I am a mother of three wonderful children aged 10, 8 and 4 years. Professionally I ran a boutique for many years before I started Bubez Foods.
Tell us about Bubez Foods
I am the MD and CEO of Bubez Foods, which is a food processing and packaging company with its head office in Abuja. Bubez Pap, which is our flagship product, is extra-fortified pap that comes in 12 different variants – Strawberry Flavoured, Plain Yellow, Plain White, Vanilla Flavoured, with Groundnut, with Soybeans, and 4 variants with Ginger. Bubez Foods began its operations in August 2012 from my kitchen and by June 2015, we had the first team of production employees assembled at the factory. Currently, we have over 30 vendors selling our product, Bubez Pap, out of Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and Warri and we are constantly working on extending our coverage to more cities and localities.
What makes Bubez Foods stand out?
Well our product which is need driven stands us out. Bubez Pap was chosen as a flagship product on the premise that pap also known as akamu or ogi is a very popular traditional product that cuts across culture, especially for pregnant women and kids. However, hygiene has always been a major challenge forcing many mothers make their own akamu at home and others who can’t, have to rely on second and third choices like custard for their kids and family. Bubez Pap is hygienically produced and packaged and contains no additives and preservatives. The fact that it comes in 12 variants, is an added benefit as well as there is bound to be a flavour your child will enjoy.
Sounds great, so basically you have made pap more accesible, more hygenic and more interesting, what are some of the variants you have?
We have our Strawberry flavour which is a favourite with children. We also have guinea corn with millet, yellow corn with Ginger, white Corn with ginger, groundnut flavour, vanilla and our plain yellow and white corn pap amongst others. We try and make things interesting to ensure that everyone in the family has a variant they love.
On a personal note how are you able to combine motherhood and work?
Ha! The question every woman wants an answer to (laughs). I am not going to pretend that it is not a challenge, because it is. However, the key is good planning and an effective support system. Thankfully, I utilise both.
Based on what you have just said what’s your advice for working mums with young children?
It used to be about work-life balance but now we know that it never really balances as it were so now it’s work-life integration, finding a way to involve your kids with your work, not necessarily physically but by talking them through it and discussing the importance of your work and the value added.
Also create a routine for your kids so you know what and when you need to be available. Plan your time so you can utilise properly. Build a support system and finally, thank God every day you are in the technology age; use your phone! Even when you can’t be home because of work, call your kids, help with the homework over the phone, talk to them over the phone like you would when you are with them. Even if it’s a baby, still put the phone on speaker and talk to your child. It’s not perfect but it works.
Lastly, it is really about quality time over the quantity/amount of time spent with kids. Personally I have had to introduce things like movie nights on Fridays to encourage bonding time with them. And again like I said, routine is important so I try to make sure I come from home from work before their bed time and if for some unexpected reason, I can’t, I use my phone to talk to my kids.
How do you wind down and relax?
I take out time to go to the spa for some me time. I love my own space so spending time with myself without distractions is a great way for me to relax and of course, spending time with my kids, whether it be movie nights on Friday or anything else, has a way of improving my perspective.
What do you think motherhood has taught you and what lessons do you hope your children will learn from you?
Motherhood has made me a less selfish person because I always have to think about and consider the kids while taking most decisions whether it is personal or work related. I want my kids to understand and appreciate the value of hard work and dignity in labour.
Thanks Ij its been awesome chatting with you.