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Debby Lawson: How Nigerian Woman Started Sell-Out Cookie Business With $1

Debby Lawson, co-founder and COO of Fastizers, had originally planned to work for an energy business or a bank. After finishing her undergraduate education and seeking for jobs, she ended up working at a bakery in Lagos, Nigeria.

The businesswoman stated to How We Made It in Africa that she had an idea when the bakery workers had to stay up late to complete a large cookie order; she realized she could bake the cookies herself and give them to her sister to sell at her workplace. She spent 960 naira ($1.28) on ingredients for her first batch of cookies.

Using the oven at her employment, she started with 20 packaged cookies, then 30, under the moniker “Fun Cookies.” She soon found it impossible to combine her bakery work with her cookie company, so she quit her bakery position to concentrate completely on her cookie business.

She was forced to use her sister’s oven instead of the company’s, which she quickly outgrew due to the high demand for the product. “Sometimes I’d be in the kitchen at 2 a.m. baking cookies. But when you’re doing something you love, it really doesn’t feel like stress,” said Lawson. “Seeing the progress, from 20 packs to 50 packs to 100 packs per day… It was exciting,” she said.

Her then-fiancé, Gbola, pushed her to move to a larger building so she could handle the expansion of her firm. Following his advice, she rented a low-cost apartment in 2011. Gbola went out into the street to introduce the cookies to retailers in order to help his fiancée.

He provided the things for free and simply asked that they be sold. On the same day, the cookies had sold out. According to the feedback of these exhibitors, the market welcomed Lawson’s cookies with open arms. She soon found herself serving more than 100 retailers on a daily basis.

When the organization’s annual income reached over 200 million naira in 2013, it thought it was time for a larger production facility. They bought the land and the factory building with their own money. They’ve since erected a second facility, and their combined capacity is now 30 tons of snacks per day.

In June, Aruwa Capital Management, a private equity firm, invested $2 million in Fastizers, contributing to the company’s continued endeavor to improve production capacity. Fastizers’ goods are currently available in over a dozen Nigerian states. According to Lawson, the company’s expansion outside of Lagos was entirely organic and took minimal effort on their part.

According to How We Made It In Africa, the Nigerian snack food business is worth $883 million and is anticipated to grow to $1.5 billion by 2024.

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