in , ,

Mariam Jimoh Quit Her Banking Career to Launch the UK’s First Digital African and Caribbean Food Market

Mariam Jimoh left her high-paying banking position to launch Oja, an African and Caribbean online food business that has piqued the interest of high-network investors such as Premier League soccer star Raheem Sterling.

The internet supermarket was developed in response to the lack of African food stores that provide online services for the busy 9-5 working class and other busy people in Mariam’s neighborhood in England. She recounted how her profound passion and appetite for traditional African food kept her hungry all the time because she couldn’t locate native Nigerian delicacies like yams, plantains, and okra in local grocery stores.

She contacted numerous persons in search of online stores selling African delicacies, but received no encouraging responses. She frequently had to visit her parents in Nigeria to buy Nigerian food or to look for Afro-Caribbean markets.

Mariam recognized in 2018 that the scarcity of African foods in her area and beyond was both an issue and a business opportunity. This inspired her to retire from her banking position in order to make her daily home dinner more accessible to her and others who suffer the same difficulty.

The Nigerian entrepreneur told MyLondon, “I pretty much never saw daylight working in investment banking. The only time I could really get groceries was by ordering online or in advance, but there was just a group of products that I didn’t have access to: my oxtail, plantain, and okra – it just made me think about why it was so hard to find these.”

Her original Yoruba roots informed the name she chose for her firm, Oja, which means market in Yoruba. According to MyLondon, Oja is the “UK’s first ethnic digital supermarket focused on African and Caribbean foods,” which has also been reported by The Sun.

“Usually, trying to find African and Caribbean products, you have to go to an actual physical market. Sadly, in a lot of cases, there’s not always a market really close to you. I wanted to streamline that process and find a way to deliver products to you when you need them fast,” Mariam Jimoh said.

Within a few months of its launch, customer patronage increased more rapidly than she had expected. She happily recalled the response the business got from the public. “The responses from people when we launched in 2020 were amazing. Customers will message us asking where certain items have gone on the site or one time when we posted something and our website crashed because people flooded the website. That’s how we realized we were building something that’s really solving a genuine problem.”

Oja has expanded its first limited market coverage to include the entire Greater London area. Oja has expanded their product offering to include cuisines from other African and Caribbean cultures, including Somalia, East Africa, North Africa, the Caribbean, and neighboring Islands, in addition to traditional Nigerian foods. Oja also sells beauty and hair care items and has a Halal selection.

The success of the digital market and the answer it offers has endeared many Africans and Caribbeans and piqued the interest of investors like as Jamaican-born Brit, Raheem Sterling, and LocalGlobe, demonstrating their faith in Mariam Jimoh and Oja.

“There is such a natural connection with Oja for me. I can get my favorite home comforts, like Biggas and plantain chips, and having access to these products at short notice is amazing! I am sure that the wider African and Caribbean communities will appreciate this too. I am excited to play a part in something with both potential and purpose,” said Raheem Sterling.

Mariam recalls her first meeting with Raheem Sterling: “When I first met Raheem, the first question was about how did we get our plantain. There was excitement, this connection that people just have over food. (The age-old debate if it’s pronounced plantain or plantin) There’s a clear need for these foods and that same feeling we all have. He had a natural connection to the things we were selling on the website and what his mum cooked for him, so we could relate over those stories.”

Today, the South East Londoner is excited about the tremendous growth her business has recorded. “It’s exciting to see where we are growing especially as a start. It’s nonstop, so you never really get to think about what you’ve created but I’m super proud of the team and what we’ve built so far. These foods and products have a connection to people’s culture.”

Tony Elumelu Meets With Joe Biden, King Charles At Climate Forum

Why I Ask That My Monthly Pension Be Suspended – Gbenga Daniel