Success can be found in the most unexpected places. Starting off preparing moin-moin for colleagues and family members, today, Ayo Megbope, Founder of No Left Overs, owns a successful business with a turnover of over $100,000 a year. Here’s her backstory and how she was able to grow.
My business was birthed out of the need for survival. My husband and I had serious financial challenges at that time, it was so bad that it got to a point where there was need to provide food for the family and we were down to our last 1,000 naira. As I tearfully received the One Thousand Naira from my husband on that fateful day, I concluded within me that if there was any food item I could buy and prepare into different meals without it looking monotonous, it was going to be beans. I made moin-moin on that fateful day, I gave a wrap to my sister-in-law who paid us a visit, and because she enjoyed it she asked me to make for her the following day which I did. I also gave some to my neighbours. That was how the requests started pouring in and I started selling to family and friends.
No Leftovers has now evolved over the last 13 years. I started off alone from selling to family and friends to hawking my moin-moin at the gate of Corona School, Ikoyi which was my last place of employment where I had worked for nine years as a secretary and where both my children attended and finished their primary school education. I figured out within me that a familiar environment where people knew me would make sales relatively easy.
From selling at the school gate, I got our first corporate job. This brought about the need to employ staff. The job was one that required us to serve 100 people lunch every day. After a few months of offering our catering services to this organization, we were able to afford to move the business out of my house into a rented apartment where we continued to offer Outdoor Catering services from. We took quite a few audacious steps from there. We opened two restaurants in Lagos and one in Abuja. Today, we have consolidated into a beautiful cosy eatery here in Lagos while we still continue with our Outdoor Catering and moin-moin sales and delivery.
When pondering over a name, I wanted one that resonated with food, a name that would be easily appealing to people and one that contained a promise to meet people’s expectations. That’s how the name, “No Left Overs” was born.
After starting my moin-moin sales, I craved for more. I believed I could do more by acquiring skills on how to run a business apart from the cooking skills I had. I kept praying as I didn’t know where to turn to. Miraculously, I came across a newspaper advert saying that the Enterprise for Development Centre under the umbrella of the Pan Atlantic University was running a programme designed to equip women in business who had never acquired business skills but had businesses of their own. The sponsor of the programme was Goldman Sachs USA and the initiative was tagged “10,000 Women”. I applied for the programme and that was how my entrepreneurship journey took a new dimension. A few years after, I tried to get a loan from my bank in order to expand my business but my bank had said they would give me the loan if I could provide 70% of the amount I was asking for. I was very upset. “Would I come to you if I had 70%?” I asked them.
Shortly after, I got a call from Goldman Sachs asking if I had been able to access any loan to grow my business. When I told them the experience I just had with my bank, they told me that in celebration of that year’s International Women’s Day, they needed two entrepreneurs to come share their experiences at a programme to be held at the White House in the United States of America. They needed to have one who had been able to access a loan for her business and another who had successfully grown her business, required financial assistance but the bank had said no to her request. They had already gotten someone who had been able to access a loan, but they were in search of someone who had not. That was how I got the invitation to go share my story at the White House. I also had the privilege of attending the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland in 2019 to share my story. Such are the types of open doors that have attended my way as I continue to grow my business. Lives are touched, my business is expanding and the story of No Left Overs has become a great inspiration to women and men alike.
We are still work in progress. But one thing I do is I put the past (success, failures, pain, achievements, etc.) behind me and I press on daily. Some have tried to discourage me but I have learnt to focus on my goals.
If I had allowed what people said about me cage me, I wouldn’t have known that there’s so much greatness in me. I have today gone far beyond bothering myself over what people say. I have gone beyond condemning myself over my past mistakes. I believe we have so much in us but we can never see it until we turn our backs on what people say, we can never emerge until we forgive ourselves for past mistakes and embrace the freshness that every new day brings.
I have learnt the importance of deferring gratification. Never put the cart before the horse. There’s time for everything. I have learnt to learn from others but never to compare myself with others. I study my market, evaluate my strength, build on it, be as creative and innovative as possible and refuse to allow fear cripple me. I see a constant need to be audacious and assertive. I refuse to allow fear limit me and I am mindful to humble myself to learn from others. My staff is my greatest asset, so I invest in them and ensure we work as a team.
13 years ago when I was going to turn 40, I felt my whole life had no meaning. I couldn’t lay a finger on any achievement worthy of note. Though extremely grateful to be alive, I craved for more, I yearned for more, and I hungered for more. When I couldn’t bear the agony of sitting back to continue to regret the mistakes I had made in life, I summoned up courage to step out of my comfort zone. I mustered strength to move from the known to the unknown and see what has happened 13 years down the line!
What if I hadn’t moved? What if I had sat back crying over my mistakes? Not only would I have killed this beautiful reality I am living now, I would have also denied others the ability to see that failure is not failure until you give up. I am grateful to God that the deepest pain I had then of not having an educational qualification beyond my Secretarial Certification has been turned around as this One Thousand Naira start off business paid my way through the Manchester Business School. The strength to keep pushing on is what I consider my greatest achievement.
Plans for The Future
About 10 years ago, I said I wanted No Left Overs to be a household name. I’m grateful to see this desire daily become a reality. The Catering Industry is quite broad and we are evolving every day. We are today a full catering outfit, we have a restaurant, we deliver to people’s doorsteps and we offer Outdoor Catering Services. Our next dream is to go into manufacturing and we are confident we will get there.
Advice to Start-Ups
I cannot overemphasize the need to believe in yourself. Put the past behind and look for opportunities to learn. Preparation is the eye that sees opportunity. As an entrepreneur, you must live ready and prepared because you do not know when or how the opportunity you desire would come, so you must equip yourself continually. Never be satisfied with today’s achievements. There’s always the next level.
The Impact of FCMB
FCMB came into our life at the nick of time. No Left Overs applied for the SheVentures zero-interest loan and we were fortunate to be selected. The mentoring/training that followed was a breath of fresh air. One of our managers who also happens to be my daughter represented No Left Overs at the training and she was inspired by the passion with which every class was delivered. The knowledge acquired is being applied and also passed to other members of our team. We are currently remodelling our restaurant with a view to expanding our services and FCMB has provided invaluable support all the way.