Beauty Oziegbe is a Nigerian-born chef who discovered her passion for cooking at the age of six. She honed her culinary skills over the years and turned her passion into a career. Today, Beauty is an accomplished chef who creates dishes that are a blend of Nigerian and international flavors.
- Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? (For e.g. Your background, what made you interested in cooking, etc.)
My name is Beauty Oziegbe and I was born and raised in Nigeria. I started cooking at the age of six years old. Originally it was as a punishment from my stepmother because I was the only one that would cook and do the chores at home. Later, I started to enjoy it as it became my only safe place in a horrible living situation.
- How did Naija Jollof start?
I was doing a real estate showing with a client in the Markham area and he wanted to try Nigerian food. To my surprise, there was none I could go to.
- Can you share some of the challenges you faced along the way? (Was access to capital one of them?)
Ohhhh challenges… Everything was a challenge because I was the first to do something like this! In 2018, there was not a heavy presence online for African food. My biggest challenge was getting financial support for the business, no one believed in it. Being Black in a system designed for other ethnicities, I had to take a lot of equity from home and it interfered with my credit. Face Coalition was a great help and relief for my business.
- How did you overcome those challenges?
The future is my motivator! It keeps me going because I know that one day that we will have over five thousand locations all across Canada and even more in the USA and Europe. This is what keeps me going. Naija Jollof as our African Mcdonalds. We currently have six locations with lots of people on waiting lists to have our franchise, people who are also having a hard time to secure funds. Securing funds for Black business is a huge challenge in Canada.
- As a FACE loan recipient, what was your experience with FACE like? (How did they support you?)
They were amazing…. all Black faces in white places… They made me feel like I was valued and welcome.
- Now with your business having 5 locations, do you have any advice to share with POC entrepreneurs?
Your vision is your baby, protect it at all costs! No one will see your vision but yourself. If you believe that 20 years from now you will have regrets, then do it with all your heart and soul.
- How do you manage it all and ensure that you aren’t spread too thin between business and family?
It is a franchise now. I carried the kids along, we shared experiences together and I make sure to take long breaks.