Uzo, the Chocolate Maker

Loom Craft Chocolate is an Abuja based chocolate turning our yummy cocoa pods into yummy and decadent chocolate. Its founder is the Uzoamaka Igweike. What started out as a small business in a room is now a business that supplies over 70 stores across country. She shares her inspiring story.

Please tell us a few things about you?
I was born in Lokoja, Niger State to a teacher mum and a military dad. We moved around the country quite a bit but settled in Abuja in the early nineties. I have Bachelor of Engineering degree from the University of Nigeria Nsukka and also studied Business Administration in the Alliance Manchester Business School. After a sterling 12-year career in ERP Consulting, I founded Loom Craft Chocolate and went into Entrepreneurship full time.

I know you are a proud mum, tell us that:
I have two lovely daughters who are aged 11 and 8. They inspire me and I’m continually teaching them self-sufficiency and self-confidence through various things I do.

Now what made you going into the chocolate making business?
Well I started researching and playing with chocolate in 2017 and I felt strongly that we could do more with our cocoa and also, it was a great opportunity to create jobs. When I pitched the idea to the Tony Elumelu Foundation and got selected, it boosted my confidence and helped me acquire the tools and time I needed to build a good foundation for the business.

In a nutshell Loom Craft Chocolate was created because I could not reconcile having an abundance of cocoa in Nigeria and relying so heavily on importation to access good cocoa products. I realized we could make better quality chocolate locally and I took up the

That’s amazing! so talking about taking up a challenge, what challenges have you had and
how have you been able to surmount them.

Building a business in a nascent industry is challenging. We had to figure out the best design for our processes, decide on the most efficient way to package and transport a delicate, temperature sensitive product, we’ve had to think of ways to cut operational costs without compromising quality. It has not been easy but we have managed to rise above challenges by staying true to our values; namely a deep focus on utilizing local produce, sustainable processes and innovation.

You are obviously a purposeful woman. How are you able to combine being a wife, mum,
and all the businesses you do?

The truth is that I don’t juggle it all by myself. I have an army of amazing people who believe in the company we’re building and they’re helping me realize my dreams. My family, the team at Loom Craft Chocolate, my friends, they make my load lighter. When I’m at the end of myself, I ask for help. And I’m fortunate to be surrounded by capable people.

Tell us about a particular experience you had maybe at the early stages and how your
surmounted it?

When we were working towards getting our factory approved by NAFDAC, we went through very strenuous times. We downloaded the NAFDAC guidelines for Good Manufacturing Practices, reviewed them thoroughly and implemented the requirements. By the day of the inspection, our minds were exhausted and nerves were frayed. We wanted to be fully compliant to avoid a second round of inspection.

However, despite weeks of work and consultations with other business owners, the hawk- eyed inspectors pointed out a couple of things to be changed. In their summary, they however expressed how impressed they were and that was encouraging! It was our first inspection and we handled it nicely simply by paying attention to the details in the agency’s guidelines.

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