Meet Masters degree holder, Adebola Ademilua, who made locust beans in cube form (Video)
Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention and this dictum perfectly applied to Adebola Ademilua, a holder of two degrees who’s been able to revolutionise the production of locust beans into cube forms to meet the taste of modern day consumers of the traditional food seasoning.
The CEO of Alapomeji Foods, despite holding a Masters’ degree and other foreign certifications, found it difficult to get paid employment so she dabbled into the production of locust beans using her paper knowledge.
In an interview with BBC Yoruba, the Ekiti State indigene who’s resident in Ibadan recounted her journey into entrepreneurship.
“When I finished my studies, I searched in vain for paid employment so I thought hard about what I can do from the knowledge I’d gained from my studies. I decided to focus on locust beans and I went back to Ekiti to learn the intricacies of the production from my older sister. I didn’t need more than two training sessions before I picked the know-how but I ensured that she was with me for my first two independent productions to put me through,” she began.
*Video courtesy BBC Yoruba
In order to stand out, she put her science background to work and carried out researches on what to do differently to make her unique.
She said: “In the course of my research, some of my respondents claimed they love eating locust beans but are put off by the smell and manner of presentation which some said made it look diabolical so I thought hard about how to make it appealing to all classes of consumers without losing all of it’s nutritional values. I then came up with the idea of producing it in cube forms which will make it acceptable like other food seasoning. This we have been able to do successfully but the immediate challenge is lack of funds to produce the cubes in commercial quantities.”
Ademilua has been producing since 2016 and gradually improving her craft but, like every endeavour, there have been challenges along the way and she readily points to three very important ones.
“The first challenge I had was that my friends stayed away because they felt locust beans production was beneath my status considering my education and looks. Though it is tedious work, I was undaunted by what they said because that wasn’t going to put food on my table. The second challenge was financing because I use pressure cooking to reduce the production stress. Locust beans production is a difficult process, taking like four days to complete just one production cycle. Sometimes I fall sick after production but I’m gradually getting used to it now so that fear has been overcome. Thirdly, it consumes a lot of water during the production process so we had to sink a borehole to meet our water needs. The local women would ordinarily take the beans to a stream to wash but for hygiene purposes we don’t do that. We have our own water source here.”
One of the joys of her work was the successful registering of her business with all government approving agencies but she also remembers a not so memorable day in the course of her hustles.
“I’d gone to market my products to a prospective customer and he made lewd passes at me. I was infuriated but soon shook it off as one of those things you encounter on the road to success,” she rationalized.
With as many as 12 staff working full time, Alapomeji Foods do undertake as many as four production cycles in a month, depending on the orders received including from Nigerians resident abroad.
Ademilua, whose first degree is in Chemistry read Science Education for her Masters’ with another diploma in Information Technology Application from HIIT, has some certifications from the United States and the United Kingdom and is also a member of the American Chemical Society.
She advises Nigeria’s legion of unemployed youth to look within for inspiration and be diligent in whatever they have to do without waiting for government to provide jobs for them.
“Look around you and find whatever you can do with the knowledge you have and whatever resources you have at hand. Never be afraid to start small. With prayers, determination and perseverance, you can start and become great in whatever you want to do.”