Entrepreneurship is a practice and process that results in creativity, innovation, enterprise development and growth.
Nutrition is the science that interprets the interaction of nutrients and other substances in food in relation to the maintenance, growth, reproduction, health, and disease of an organism. A Nutritionist is one who advises on matters of food and nutrition and their impacts on health while “Nutripreneurship” is the practice that results in creativity, innovation, development, manufacture, and distribution of nutritious foods.
Engaging in entrepreneurship shifts people from being “job seekers” to “job creators”, which is critical in developing countries owing to their high unemployment rate. It requires a lot of creativity which is the driving force behind innovation.
Mr Olu Awolowo is a Nutripreneur whose ability to turn conceptualized innovative ideas into action is remarkable. Since 2007, he has been involved in socially useful wealth creation through the application of innovative thinking and execution to meet consumer needs.
In this Interview with African Development Magazine, the CEO of Distrifoods speaks about learning food processing at an early stage, foods that can impact a child’s learning ability, and available Distrifoods Products – Xpressbite® Peanuts Snack in variants.
Below are excerpts:
Mr. Olu Awolowo, thanks for the opportunity to interview you. We would love to know how you became interested in food. Was it an early passion? What was your motivation?
I had an early interest in food processing through my Dad. He was a Senior Production Manager with FAN Milk Plc until 1995; this brought me at close range with dairy. Afterward, as an economic decision, I joined a number of Best brands in Nigeria – Wilson Bakery (Teamate Bread), Nourish Bakery, UAC Foods, Butterfield Bakery, MamaCass Bakery, etc., and began understudying the marketing and sales of shelf-stable snack foods in FMCGs in the North Central States. So, the passion was nurtured, over my teenage years, due to my exposure to dairy production.
However, the motivation to grind as a Nutripreneur was hinged on the Global Nutrition Report which has always shown/published the Nutrition status of Nigeria which has been at a disadvantage; more has to be done on the part of food businesses to complement efforts of the Government, and Development Partners to end malnutrition in Nigeria by 2030. After a decade of experience in market development, I took a shot at the YouWin3 Award in 2015. Though the panelist instructed and awarded me to continue distribution for MamaCass Bakery (Abuja), I chose to flagrantly disregard it. The acquired know-how came in handy in 2016, when I ventured into the production of shelf-stable nutritious snack foods using the awarded YouWin3 Grant.
To date, I am collaborating with other Nutripreneurs and fellow key stakeholders within the SUN Business Network, SBN, and Global Food Security Stakeholders, GFSS (Nigeria) to ensure food security and nourish the Nigerian population.
How would you describe healthy foods and healthy eating?
Healthy foods are snack foods or meals made from safe edible ingredients, prepared hygienically, possess, and can offer required micronutrients to support and maintain good well-being. However, due to the prevalence of allergens, one good food is another man’s poison.
The baseline is this: be aware of your health status, allergies, micronutrients need, and be willing to eat foods that can meet your required daily micronutrient need. All organically grown foods are healthy, all of Nigeria’s Produce is healthy but lack of self-control -gluttony- is our greatest undoing. I will advise anyone over the 40years to always see a Registered Dietician yearly. Those younger than 40, who are health-conscious, should also tow this path; avoid overly processed foods, ready-to-eat foods, and most of these imported condiments. Learn to cook with reduced bouillon cubes, learn to lower your sugar consumption, reduce your consumption of carbonated drinks and other wheat-based staples. Increase consumption of whole-grain meals, nuts, and high fiber foods..
What’s the one thing you’d suggest people keep in their kitchen if they want to cook healthy meals?
Sadly, Consumer behavior is complex stuff. Nigerians jealously guard the pattern they inherited. For the kitchen, kindly add locust bean, melon, dried stockfish, powdered crayfish, pulses, nuts, and vegetables to your store.
A mix vegetable salad or cooked, slightly peppered vegetable serving will do for dinner; we have a number of healthy lifestyle chefs, they can advise better.
As a nutripreneur, what are some of the changes and trends you’ve observed in the food world over the last 10 years?
The trend in eating habits since 2000 has endangered the earth’s population. Life’s hectic pace pressured demand for quick meals from the food industry which has placed convenience ahead of food safety, and nutrition. Food cannot be said to be safe and nutritious until it can be delivered in a form that retains essential micronutrients, and is safe for consumption. Another is the poor mentality to envy the supposedly learned; this has increased the consumption of highly sugar-based drinks- carbonated, flavored; this they see as enjoyment. How could anyone think whenever he wants to ‘chop life’ he should have a sugar-based drink? Check the lunch box of School-Age Children; what do you find there? Sugar-based drinks, mostly flavored, Milk flavored drinks, cooked noodles, etc.
Sadly, most of these Parents have tertiary education- they are not interested in the calorie count nor the nutrition offering of the consumed products to their wards. Basic education should afford one the opportunity to distinguish healthy from junk but not in Nigeria. Our low-income earners need to learn that there is so little to envy in the eating habits of the middle class. Noodles have been elevated into a staple food because it meets the convenience parents, students, & growing adults’ desire. The coveted appeal to our senses of taste and smell has further plunged us into a circle of unhealthy foods through the uncontrolled, unrestricted use of condiments, and bouillon cubes in cooking. The last two decades have propelled man into placing gratification –feeding-over nourishment.
Which snacks do you recommend for children while learning? Do you have any, tell us?
Whole Grain Snack, Peanuts Snacks, Vitamin A Cassava Crisp, Potato Crisp, etc. Incidentally, Xpressbite® Peanuts Snack (using wheat flour) is now available in 5, safe, tastefully pleasant, and micronutrient dense variants – Milk sweetened, Cinnamon, Suya spice, Coconuts, and Vanilla. Work is presently ongoing, with 2 partners on collaboration, and two others to commercialize the Xpressbite® Vitamin A’ Cassava Peanuts Snack in the same variants, in sucrose sugar, date, and honey-based sugar. Xpressbite® Peanuts Snacks in variants is a shelf-stable “Nutrified Snack” – micronutrient dense in Vitamins A, Zinc, Iodine, and Iron; vitally crucial micronutrients for the development of School-Age Children.
Can the adequate or inadequate nutritional value of children’s meals influence their intelligence?
Brain development is predicated on the presence, in the required quantity, of micronutrients responsible for its growth. First, women need to prepare themselves for pregnancy, their womb, and self. Their eating habit and nutritional status prior to pregnancy help early-stage fetal development. It would be unwise to get pregnant, and afterward to start checking what you eat. For instance, folic acid plays an important role in the early few weeks of pregnancy.
Secondly, I think we confuse intelligence with knowledge. Many educated ones are knowledgeable but may not be intelligent. Some things are gift base –hereditary- but whatever a child consumes is reflected in his nutritional status and this can impair his growth and wellbeing. So, the consumption of junk, unsafe foods or poor meals can put a child at a disadvantage.
What food(s) can impact a child’s learning ability?
It begins with the Mother. Children’s Early-stage development is resultant from the Mother’s nutritional status. Women going into marriage should better think about this; see a Registered Dietician before you start making plans to get pregnant. This should be done few months before the consummation of the marriage to enable them to make plans for child-rearing immediately after the wedding.
To improve a child’s learning ability, safe, nutritious foods – balanced diet- play a tangible role as much as the emotional security of the child. The psychology of a child’s development -cognitive, emotional, intellectual, and social capabilities and functioning over the course of a normal life span, from infancy through old age is detailed beyond a balanced diet.
If other factors are cared for, children need a daily consumption of a safe balanced diet to improve learning ability. Lest we forget, quality teaching staff plays a pivotal role too.
Thanks for sharing with us.
You are welcome.
Mr. Olu Awolowo is the CEO, Distrifoods Nigeria. Deputy Chairman: Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists’, NASSI, Plateau State Chapter and Vice-Chairman: Agro-Allied, NASSI, Plateau State Chapter. Snack Food Critic, Nutritious Food Enthusiast.
Distinguished: Loyolan | Katangite. Alumnus: UI, PAU.EDC, & FATE Foundation. 2015: YouWin 3 Awardee | 2020: GAIN KFMW Grantee