Connect with us

Business Home

Interview With Sanne Steemers, A Dutch Chocolate Entrepreneur Connecting Europe And Africa

Published

on

Thirty Six Foods is a Lagos-based social enterprise inspired by the diversity in the people and environment in all the thirty six states of Nigeria and believes nothing is better than chocolate. In this interview,  Alaba Ayinuola spoke with Sanne Steemers a value chain consultant and a chocolate entrepreneur at Thirty Six Foods, to know more about the brand, her entrepreneurial journey and her interest in the chocolate business in Nigeria and Africa. Excerpts.

 

 

Alaba: Tell us a bit about yourself and your brand, Thirty Six Foods Nigeria Ltd?

Sanne: My name is Sanne Steemers. I have been working to connect Europe and Africa for most of my career. About five years ago, I settled in Nigeria. Even though I was reluctant to come to Lagos at first because of its reputation, I fell in love with the energy of people. Nigeria brought out my inner entrepreneur, and in addition to my value chain consulting work I decided to start manufacturing chocolate.

Thirty Six Foods operate as a social enterprise, which is a phenomenon that is not well-known in Nigeria. While we want to be profitable as a business, we also want to make sure that we create jobs, pay our staff a fair salary, and improve the lives of cocoa farmers. Nigeria has a bad reputation, and we would like to change that by making a high-quality product.

 

Alaba: What’s the inspiration behind your chocolate business and why Africa as a choice for your business?

Sanne: Over the past five years, I have worked in several agribusiness projects, and two years ago I started Thirty Six Foods Nigeria together with my business partner Chip Odina. We are both driven by the need to diversify the economy and create employment in Nigeria. Africa has great resources and potential, and I love to work here.

I also love chocolate. I was working as a consultant in cocoa trade when I arrived in Nigeria, and brought chocolate from abroad every time I travelled. At some point, I started experimenting with making chocolate in my kitchen. When friends and family started to ask for chocolate, I knew we had a good product.

 

Alaba: What’s your experience working in different African countries?

Sanne: The first African country I lived in was Burkina Faso in 2005. Since then, I have worked across Africa. I like how varied the continent is. I chose to settle in Nigeria because it suits me. Nigerians are very honest and direct, people here are ready to work as long as it has a mutual benefit. I still travel a lot for my consulting work. Last week, I returned to Burkina Faso and it was wonderful to see how the country is still friendly and charming as it was almost fifteen years ago.

 

Alaba: What are the challenges, competition and how are you overcoming them?

Sanne: There are always challenges. The most difficult ones are those that are not in our control: roads, electricity, and climate. While I learned to make chocolate in Europe, we had to redesign our chocolate making processes entirely to be able to deal with the specific context in Nigeria. But challenges come with being an entrepreneur. We learn from them, and we find creative solution.

 

Also Read Cycles, Nigeria’s No.1 Bike-Sharing Platform Achieving The United Nations SDG Goal 11 – Damilola Soladoye

 

Alaba: How is your chocolate unique and different from other chocolate brands in Africa?

Sanne: We focus on both quality and sustainable impact. We are one of the few chocolate makers actively investing in cocoa communities to increase both quality and income. We operate as a social enterprise and offer employment opportunities to people who might not otherwise have had a job. Training is very important to us.

 

Alaba: How can governments support businesses especially in the agricultural value chain?

Sanne: Businesses mainly need the government to ensure good roads, constant supply of electricity, and smooth processing of permits and taxes.

 

Alaba: What’s your view on the chocolate business and its future in Nigeria and Africa?

Sanne: Africa is uniquely positioned in the cocoa and chocolate market. The continent produces the majority of the world’s cocoa and represents a large market. Adding value to cocoa through chocolate manufacturing is a logical next step.

 

Alaba: What’s the future for your business and what steps are you taking towards achieving them?

Sanne: We are growing the business slowly but steadily, we never want to compromise on quality. We have a range of products that we are very proud of, and we have started to work with companies and individuals on custom orders. In addition to the Nigerian market, we have received our first export order which will be shipped next year.

 

Alaba: What’s your advice for prospecting entrepreneurs and investors considering the African market?

Sanne: Become an expert in your field while also being flexible to adjust to reality. You may need to change your processes or the way you sell. And take it one step at a time.

 

Alaba: What’s your favourite local dish and holiday spot in Africa?

Sanne: I love Nigerian food; it’s hard to choose just one dish! My top Nigerian dishes are suya, amala with vegetable soup, and pounded yam with white soup. I get them from my favourite spots in Surulere.

Regarding the holiday spot: I spend most of my holidays in Amsterdam to see my family and friends in The Netherlands. In Nigeria, I love Tarkwa Bay for a quick break. Other favourite African destinations include South Africa and Egypt.

 

Her Short Bio:

Sanne Steemers is a social entrepreneur and senior consultant who makes social impact economically viable. She is the founder of Thirty Six Foods Nigeria and senior partner in the Agri-Logic consulting network. She is passionate about value chain partnerships, impact investment, making Nigerian chocolate and creating jobs. Lagos & Amsterdam are home.

 

Visit: Thirty Six Foods

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Press Release

Tokunboh Ishmael Joins Endeavor Board

Published

on

Tokunboh Ishmael, Managing Director and co-founder of Alitheia Capital (Photo: Endeavor Nigeria)

Endeavor Nigeria announced today the appointment of ‘Tokunboh Ishmael, Managing Director and co-founder of Alitheia Capital, to its board of directors.

Tokunboh Ishmael is an impact investor with over 20 years of experience spanning investment banking, private equity investing, technology, and business development in Africa, Europe, and North America. She is the Managing Director, and co-founder of Alitheia Capital, Nigeria-based investment management and advisory firm focused on channeling private equity investments into small and medium-sized businesses in West Africa.

“We are thrilled to welcome Mrs. Tokunboh Ishmael to the board of Endeavor in Nigeria,” said Tosin Faniro-Dada, Managing Director and CEO of Endeavor Nigeria. “Mrs. Ishmael is an inspiration to the digital ecosystem, and we’re certain she will add tremendous value as well as a unique perspective to the team with over 20 years of experience in Private Equity and Venture Capital in Africa; ESG and Impacting Investing; Gender Lens Investing; and Diversity and Inclusion.”

Ishamael joins Endeavor Nigeria’s board members, including Atedo Peterside CON (Board Chairman, Endeavor Nigeria and President & Founder, Anap Foundation), Bolaji Balogun (Board Vice-Chairman, Endeavor Nigeria, and CEO, Chapelhill Denham), Jaideep Gulab (CEO, Rosemonde), Halima Aliko Dangote (Group Executive Director, Dangote Industries Limited), Yemi Lalude (Managing Partner, TPG Growth), Andrew Alli (Group CEO & Partner, SouthBridge Group), Mitchell Elegbe (Founder & GMD, Interswitch Group), Faysal El-Khalil (Chairman, Seven-Up Bottling Company), Suresh Chellaram (Chairman, Chellarams Group), and Tosin Faniro-Dada (Managing Director & CEO, Endeavor Nigeria).

Endeavor Nigeria’s board of directors comprises top business leaders who actively support the organization’s efforts to advance the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and economy.

Commenting on the appointment, Atedo Peterside CON, Chairman of the Board, said, “We’re honored to welcome ‘Tokunboh Ishmael to the Board of Directors of Endeavor Nigeria. We are certain that she will bring tremendous value to the Endeavor network, drawing on very relevant practical experiences. It will also further enhance the strong role that Endeavor Nigeria has been playing in supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nigeria as a whole.

Download BAO E-MAGAZINE 

I look forward to working closely with her on the board and strategy level.”

Speaking on the appointment, ‘Tokunbo Ishmael said, “I am pleased to join the board of Endeavor Nigeria, an institution that has played a key role in placing high-impact, transformative African entrepreneurs and businesses on the global map. I look forward to contributing my unique experience to the energetic and visionary leadership of the organization to unlock further growth and impact through Endeavor Nigeria’s robust initiatives and network.”

Endeavor is the world’s leading community of high-impact entrepreneurs. Founded in 1997, Endeavor is a global organization with a mission to unlock the transformational power of entrepreneurship by selecting, supporting, and investing in the world’s top founders. Today, Endeavor’s network spans 41 markets and supports more than 2,300 entrepreneurs whose companies generate combined revenues of over $42 billion US and have created more than 3.9 million jobs. Endeavor’s unique entrepreneur-first model and network of trust provide a platform for founders to dream big, scale up, and pay it forward to the next generation of entrepreneurs. 

Endeavor launched its Nigeria office in 2018 to select and support the best founders of companies at the scale-up and growth stage who recognise a responsibility to pay it forward and multiply their impact in Nigeria’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. In Nigeria, Endeavor aims to select 4-6 companies a year, and today there are 33 Endeavor Entrepreneurs leading 16 companies in their portfolio. 

Continue Reading

Health

mPharma acquires majority stake in HealthPlus

Published

on

mPharma, Africa’s leading patient-centered technology-driven healthcare company, has acquired the majority stake in HealthPlus, the leading pharmacy chain in Nigeria. mPharma and the former investor, Alta Semper, have signed an agreement leading to the acquisition of a majority stake in the HealthPlus Group.

According to the Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of mPharma, Gregory Rockson, the acquisition is in line with the company’s mission to build an Africa that is in good health by delivering life-changing healthcare services and drugs to improve health outcomes for patients. He stated that the acquisition of the HealthPlus Pharmacy chain by mPharma complements mPharma’s deep commitment to increasing patient access to affordable and quality healthcare in Nigeria.

“mPharma is deepening its long-standing commitment to Africa by reimagining primary healthcare in some of the most vulnerable communities on the continent. We continue to transform community pharmacies into primary care centers to provide affordable and accessible healthcare to all patients so they can live not just longer but healthier lives. We are optimistic about the future of healthcare for Nigerians through the acquisition of HealthPlus.”, said Rockson.

In her remarks on the acquisition, Afsane Jetha, Co-founder and CEO at Alta Semper Capital, said: “We are delighted about HealthPlus’ partnership with mPharma. We have a strong conviction in mPharma’s strategy of revolutionizing primary care across Africa and believe mPharma is the ideal steward for HealthPlus’s next chapter of growth. We believe mPharma’s vision is consistent with that of HealthPlus’s shareholders and employees, and we are enthusiastic to support the business through a relationship with mPharma going forward”.

Download BAO E-MAGAZINE 

While mPharma plans to continue to keep and strengthen HealthPlus as Nigeria’s leading pharmacy brand in Nigeria, the acquisition will also provide expansion opportunities for mPharma within Nigeria and a platform to expand mPharma’s mutti pharmacy retail footprint across the continent through its fast-growing QualityRx program. Powered by mPharma’s proprietary Bloom software, HealthPlus will provide patients access to affordable primary care services within its pharmacies, in addition to affordable and quality medications it currently retails across 12 states in Nigeria. The HealthPlus pharmacy chain will also launch mutti®, mPharma’s health membership program, which will provide both existing and new customers with discounts, interest-free “heal-now-pay-later” plans, free health screenings, and other primary care services.

By combining HealthPlus pharmacies with mPharma’s growing portfolio of partner mutti pharmacies and GoodHealth shops (PPMVs),mPharma’s network will grow from 224 to over 320 health facilities in Nigeria and will provide care to more than 100,000 Nigerians each month.

Continue Reading

Corporate Executive

Chantel Cooper: The Epitome of Empathy and Care

Published

on

Chantel Cooper, CEO of The Children’s Hospital Trust (Image: Supplied)

Chantel joined the Children’s Hospital Trust in 2013 as the Head of Fundraising and Communication and was appointed as CEO in 2019. For her, 2020 was a year that reinforced the importance of the core purpose of the Trust and the difference the organisation wants to make in the lives of children. “Our cause is driven by the need to make a difference in the lives of sick and injured children. We are people who work together to save the lives of the children who matter. We all have a purpose!” she says.

Sharing excerpts from her journey, Chantel says:

“My purpose in life is to serve those who are most vulnerable: women and children. My career was driven by my passion to make a real difference in the lives of women and children. When I was 18 years old, I volunteered for an organisation that provided support for women who had been raped. While volunteering, I started working with women in rural areas in the Eastern Cape where we found opportunities to grow their businesses.

“My passion for women led me to Cape Town where I became Director of Rape Crisis Cape Town when I was 27 years old. After the birth of my two children, I moved to an organisation called St Joseph’s Home for chronically Ill Children. St Joseph’s is a step-down facility for tertiary hospitals like the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. It was a profound move for me as I was able to work with children who inspired me.

“One of the most valuable lessons I learnt is the power of love. You can offer a child the best healthcare in the world, but what a child wants most is their parents to love them and be by their side. This is the value I most appreciate about the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital and my past experiences. This hospital believes in child-centered care and knows that a child heals when their parent or caregiver is by their side – even during the COVID-19 pandemic. All other hospitals had restricted access to patients, but the presence of a parent is imperative to their sick or injured child’s healing.”

Overcoming Adversities

“The COVID-19 pandemic taught our team that life can change in a blink of an eye and that we need to be prepared for all possibilities. The pandemic hit the world with such speed and velocity that we had no choice but to find a way to not only sail through the storm but also find ways to get out of the situation stronger than before.”

Chantel also states that 2020 provided the Children’s Hospital Trust with the opportunity to learn extraordinary lessons that they would not have normally had the opportunity to learn and some of these include:

  • The value of deep listening and the importance of demonstrating kindness.
  • Working in collaboration created the opportunity for meaningful impact for our beneficiaries.
  • Opportunities do exist during challenging times; positivity exposed the opportunities.
  • Adapting to change during uncertain times helped to build a resilient team.

“Our Trust team demonstrated ingenuity, compassion, resilience, commitment, and fortitude during a very difficult time. As a result, we surpassed our goals, and this enabled our organisation to reach more children and families. We are grateful for the contribution from every individual,” adds Chantel.

Download BAO E-MAGAZINE 

“Walking through the corridors of a children’s hospital during a crisis gave perspective on the real value of care, kindness, and collaboration. While children were not the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Social Work Department experienced first-hand the profound impact the pandemic had on children’s health and well-being.

“Unemployment, food insecurity, child safety and schooling were common concerns for many patients and their parents who entered the doors of the Hospital. The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital values patient and family-centred care which includes care for the whole family from a holistic perspective.

“In response to the needs of the families, the Trust secured funding to enable the social workers to provide additional counselling services and material support such as the provision of food, hygiene, and home-schooling supplies to vulnerable families when children were discharged from the Hospital.” Read more on the Family Care Project here.

Redefining Excellence

The core to achieving our vision is upholding our values of Integrity, Accountability, Kindness, Dynamism, and Collaboration in every aspect of our work. The Trust has a sound financial record in administration and good governance. For the past 28 years, we have raised funds to address many pressing needs, but much has yet to be done. With the help of many donors, we continue to give hope and healing to our little ones who need it most.

The Trust raises funds for the upgrade and expansion of the Hospital’s buildings, the purchase of state-of-the-art medical equipment, and new medical treatment projects and funds the training of medical professionals across Africa – ensuring that the Hospital not only retains its world-class stature but is able to continue providing life-changing and life-saving care for children.

The Trust relies on donations to fund these needs. When you donate to the Trust, 100% of your donation goes towards funding projects that change children’s lives (and the lives of the people who love them). The operational costs of the Trust are funded from an endowment, so your generous contributions are never used to cover administration costs.

Donate to the Children’s Hospital Trust today! www.childrenshospitaltrust.org.za

Continue Reading

Ads

Most Viewed