Chichi Eriobu, CEO and founder of Phronesis Foods Nigeria Limited, is renowned for her popular business on Facebook. Beyond its social media presence, Phronesis Foods is a food processing and export company that packages local Nigerian foods and innovates new products using existing ingredients.

Chichi Eriobu never set out to become an entrepreneur, but her goal was always to be a job creator. After leaving event planning, she turned to the food industry with the aim of building a worldwide brand. To achieve this, she invested in entrepreneurial courses, both online and in-person, expanded her network by attending free events, and learned through observation.

Despite facing obstacles such as storage issues, financial management difficulties, and uncertainty about market reception, Chichi persevered and is now focused on growing Phronesis Foods into a recognized global brand, starting with its Ukwa products.

Chichi understands that entrepreneurship is a never-ending process of learning and growth, and is open to admitting that she still has much to learn. She takes pride in being an employer and is dedicated to making Phronesis Foods a well-known name for healthy food options both in Nigeria and globally.

Initially, Chichi Eriobu did not plan to become an entrepreneur, but after traditional job-seeking methods proved unsuccessful, she decided to start her own business. She began in the event planning industry and sold recharge cards, but eventually left due to challenges like obtaining referrals and dealing with debts from customers.

To enhance her skills and knowledge, Chichi enrolled in online and in-person entrepreneurial courses, even paying up to $120 for one of the courses. She also expanded her network by attending free events and observing others. Chichi believes that continuous learning is crucial in entrepreneurship and one should never stop growing.

Regarding the challenges faced while starting the business, Chichi said, “This is a common question in every interview I give. I understand why. Initially, I was unsure if my idea was good enough and if people would buy Ukwa (Breadfruit or Treculia Africana). Anyone could easily buy Ukwa in the open market. To overcome this, I started promoting the idea of selling Ukwa on social media before even selling a single pack. Another challenge was storage. I didn’t have a proper understanding of how to store our product, which led to losses and debt. I also didn’t take advantage of my mother’s extensive knowledge of the product, as she had been selling fresh Ukwa for over 30 years. If I had utilized her expertise, we could have prevented some of the losses. Financial management was another issue. We were making money, but there was no proper record-keeping. This resulted in me using business funds for personal interests, which had a negative impact on the business. I wouldn’t say that we had funding problems, as taking more money than we used to start would have put a lot of other people’s money at risk. I learned that having money in a business does not guarantee success and that other factors need to be considered and addressed.”

Chichi Eriobu, CEO of Phronesis Foods, looks up to several individuals in business rather than just the food industry. She cites Strive Masiyiwa, Tony Elumelu, Folorunso Alakija, and Emeka Oguchi as her sources of inspiration and knowledge. According to Sabistation, a PR and media consulting firm, Phronesis Foods is one of the most popular Nigerian businesses on Facebook. However, the company’s success is not limited to social media as Chichi has set her sights on establishing Phronesis as a global food brand. Ediale Kingsley, Head of Sabistation Media, believes that Chichi is purposely building a global brand.

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