meet mary jane - the spark youth empowerment platform in nigeria

Meet Mary Jane – The Food Consultant

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Mary Jane Nkechi Ogbu makes healthy and natural Nigerian foods, processed and available to her clients all year round.

meet mary jane - the spark youth empowerment platform in nigeria

Speaking on how she started, she says, “While growing up, I saw my dad advocating for preserving food. He disliked wastage. He would make us preserve food that we couldn’t consume at once for a later day, or a later time.”

“So when I travelled to Jos to further my education, I was perplexed at the amount of food that would waste every farming season; from tomatoes to pepper to potatoes and other perishable food items. I wasn’t very interested in doing so much about it, until I travelled to see my parents, and my mom was lamenting about the price and non availability of tomatoes.”

“Then I said to myself, what an irony? There in Jos, is an abundance that is been wasted and here is my mom in need of something that is super available. It is just in a different part of the country.”

“Then I knew that this is a problem that needed to be solved. I began to wonder how many women in other parts of Nigeria had the same problem and would gladly embrace a solution. That was how Ovalz was birthed. And since then, it’s been looking for solutions to lingering problems, hence our coffee and other products in the future.”

Her major challenge has been family pressure. “My parents think that this is just a part time job. My mum told me, “just keep doing this, don’t worry, you will find a better Job.”

“And the fact that nobody understands that a new business is like a new born baby that needs time to grow, develop and stand on its own. Everybody wants it to explode quickly. Everybody wants you to start counting millions immediately. And family members do not have the patience to wait for your process. These have been my major challenge.”

Meet Mary Jane The Food Consultant - The Spark Youth Empowerment platforms in Nigeria   Meet Mary Jane The Food Consultant - The Spark Youth Empowerment platforms in Nigeria

Mary Jane draws inspiration from other young striving honest entrepreneurs. “When I see them working honestly, surmounting hurdles and making it here in Nigeria, I am motivated to not give up.”

“And every time I go to the farm, and see the smile on the faces of the farmers and their workers, the happiness and the contentment on their faces that says “thank you for buying these products off from us, we have no idea how we would sell them, because they are so much, And will waste away.” I don’t feel the urge to quit. I am motivated and inspired to keep doing what I’m doing, because I’m obviously making a difference.”

Receiving accolades from others serves as a confidence booster for her. “On the 15th of May 2018, Ovalz foods Nigeria limited turned one. So we decided to organize a standing sales party. There was a 20percent discount and customers came to take advantage of it.”

“Everybody who came bought a product that day and did not collect their change. They all wanted to support. And my former boss came too. I overheard her telling someone “this is not a small thing”. That made me feel good about myself. She’s a critic and is never satisfied. When she said that, I knew that I was doing some thing right. It felt good.”

When asked about the opportunities she is looking forward to, she says, “At the moment, we have an initiative where we want students to come on board and be vendors of our brewed coffee. We hope that this will reduce the amount of substance abuse that is experienced in our higher institutions.”

Meet Mary Jane The Food Consultant - The Spark Youth Empowerment platforms in Nigeria   Meet Mary Jane The Food Consultant - The Spark Youth Empowerment platforms in Nigeria

“We want to take advantage of the lack of quality coffee in the Nigerian market, and fill it with our quality specialty coffee.  We hope that when students begin to experience the difference in coffee, then they will crave for it in the labour market. That way, a need for cafes will arise and it will be a chain reaction; more cafes, more jobs, more opportunities and less substance abuse.”

Mary Jane also had something to say about youth empowerment. “I can tell you that the average Nigerian youth is very hard working. When people tell me I’m hardworking, I look at them and say, “What else would I rather be?” Because that’s all I have known. I have met countless of youths like me, who know nothing but honest hard work.”

“If the government can take advantage of this hardworking more than 50percent of the entire population youths, Nigeria will be a better place. The government can do this by providing electricity, cheap internet and functional skills acquisition centres. Functional centres that will be given out to the private sector to handle, not government officials.”

“Stable power and cheap internet is of utmost importance. The world is going digital and we have to move with it. The cyber space is the new work space.”

Connect with her on

Twitter, instagram and Facebook: @ovalzfoods

“Our customer care service is top notch. Call anytime of the day: 09021600094”

“Visit our blog to get interesting topics, amazing recipes and step by step easy food preparation. www.ovalzfoods.blogspot.com/

Email: Ovalzfoods@gmail.com

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The Spark is a youth empowerment platform in Nigeria that projects the average Nigerian youth doing something, anything positive. Our mission is to reach out to as many youths, “EMPOWER and ENGAGE!!!