It’s hard to satisfy your craving for fresh food when you’re working a 9-5 job in a big, traffic-choked city. Where’s the time to buy the greens and tomatoes, or to slice and cook them into anything worthy of your palettes?
Kasope Ladipo-Ajai set out to solve this problem in 2012 when she founded OmoAlata, a packaged foods company based in Lagos. The brand makes local soups and spices, puts them in nice packs, and supplies them to stores across the city.
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Setting up OmoAlata was a daring move for Kasope. She had been an IT person at an international airline and seemed on the way to bigger things. But it was the exposure she gained in her travels that eventually led her away from core tech and towards mixing peppers.
She found that many of the African restaurants outside of the continent didn’t cook their dishes with ingredients from back home, because they couldn’t find properly packaged ingredients from Nigeria. But there weren’t that many packaged soups in Nigeria to begin with. Kasope decided to fix the ingredients supply gap from that end instead.
In the beginning, she and her co-founder, Tayo, had to bootstrap the business. They got a factory, purchased equipment, found suppliers for their produce, and engaged family and friends to help with word-of-mouth and other forms of marketing.
Today, OmoAlata has its flagship products, the Ofada Pepper Mix, and Original Pepper Mix, stacked on the shelves of several stores on both island and mainland districts of Lagos.
The Pepper Mixes by OmoAlata
The pepper mixes work well as a base for a number of soups. They are made of fresh onions, pepper, and tomatoes, all sourced from verified local producers. The ingredients are blended, boiled, packaged in sealed bags, and cooled until it’s ready to be moved to retail shops.
However, the product doesn’t contain artificial preservatives. Kasope and her team say they are keen on retaining the purely organic qualities of their mix; they prefer to maintain its freshness by keeping it refrigerated.
An attractive characteristic of the product is its natural taste. It’s a sign of its freshness, a feature that both its makers and consumers take seriously.
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Awards and Recognition
In 2015, Kasope was nominated for the Future Awards Prize in Business. In the same year, she won the first prize in the She Leads Africa Pitch Competition. She also made Forbes Africa’s list of 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in 2016.
OmoAlata could be trying out new products in the near future if its founders’ plans come to fruition. They will be looking to help busy city dwellers with more ready-to-cook fresh food options that make their urban lives more comfortable.
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