Food is a daily human need, for some, it’s a lifestyle. Every bite becomes precious. Umama Foods and Grill was established for that singular reason; to satisfy cravings. But owning a food business hasn’t been all rosy for Jesse Ameh Amuche, the founder of the Umama grill spot. Achieving his dream was a journey filled with shortcomings and adversities, which were countered by the will to succeed. However, he was able to keep his food business running despite issues with funding, manpower, a hostile business environment, and all sorts of business challenges.
Do tell us more about yourself.
I hail from Ogbadigbo local government area of Benue State, Nigeria. I am a Nigerian and studied Industrial and Technology Education at the Federal University of Technology Minna, Niger State. My favourite food is Pounded Yam and Ogbono soup because it makes me feel good. I like to relax by socializing and that’s because you relate with people on a casual level of intellect. You also see things from different perspectives, which sometimes produces ideas on how to grow the business and also deliver service at a higher pace.
How did you start your business?
I started my business journey on the 13th of March, 2019, with the sole aim of delivering top-notch taste and satisfaction to every customer in no time. This led to the company’s tag line “Hasta La Vista Hunger”. By God’s grace, the dream is coming to life as we have since grown a large customer base. It wouldn’t be so if the brand had not been working hard on the vision through an already set objective.
Tell us about your business name.
Umama Foods is the food branch of Umama Global Services. Umama Global Services offers merchant sales of electronics, cars, clothes, and general consultation. It is a combination of everything Umama.
How do you handle being a business owner and a chef?
Being a chef is adventurous. Although being a business owner involves a lot of dynamics, in the sense that you have to keep thinking of 10s of ways to solve one problem, and sometimes you have to manipulate 1 or 2 of the solutions to give you the best results. But being a chef like I said is an adventure. As a chef, you always have to create something new. That way nothing gets old on the menu. People like to explore new ways of getting satisfied, thus necessitating the need for a chef, to make sure there are a thousand ways to kill hunger.
Did you ever like cooking?
The truth is, I never fancied cooking. I usually stuck to other ways that involved not cooking the meal myself. And when I eventually did make it myself, I had to eat it like it was the best I ever had, when frankly it wasn’t. So, No! I never liked cooking, not until I developed the zeal to become a steak chef.
What inspired grilling?
The inspiration for grilling is mainly hygiene and taste. As an undergraduate, I would get some grilled chicken from home to share with friends in school, and they always loved it. So I decided to bring that taste with a little extra, to a wider audience. I did that while monetizing the action.
Umama has a good online presence. What is your secret?
The online audience and interaction secret are simple: “If you do your best, people will inquire by all means”. The online space is the fastest way to seek questions and answers in this era. It also allows for a good opportunity for customer feedback and online interactions. These processes allow for large numbers on google, Instagram, Facebook, and other business social media pages.
What have you had to sacrifice to make the dream a reality?
A lot of sacrifices have been made. Starting from less school attendance to online business class payments, reduced self-care, etc. But today I can say, the success was worth the sacrifice.
How does putting smiles on many faces make you feel?
Customer satisfaction has always been the goal. We created that motive and stuck to it. So it is a fulfilling experience seeing customers satisfied and happy. And in most cases, coming back for more.
What’s your assessment of entrepreneurship, especially in Nigeria?
Firstly, it is not entrepreneurship if it doesn’t have problems, mishaps, and setbacks. But in the case of being a Nigerian, we have hardly had Governmental support unlike in other countries. Rather we are subjected to paying countless unnecessary bills, and sometimes, the destruction of properties without proper notice. So it’s not easy being a business owner in the country (Nigeria).
How do you make what you do unique?
Research makes me stand out as a brand. I can modify techniques and ingredients which brings continuous customer satisfaction and that’s a priority for me.
What has Umama taught you so far?
I have learned to compete with none other than your yesterday’s self. That way you are a step ahead by the next day. My advice to spring business owners would be, don’t give up. Your breakthrough draws closer by the second.
If you were to do anything different in your years of business, what would it be?
If I had another opportunity, I would do everything over and over again with little corrections to previous mistakes. Because the experience as a result of certain poor decisions has placed me where I am today. But that is the business, we keep learning and making adjustments both personally and business-wise. My favourite parts of the business are the cash-out and the feeling of fulfillment that comes with honest reviews. My least favourite part is the stress.
If you received a huge grant, what would be your plan for the future?
I would reinvest and branch out. We are currently located in Shiroro, Minna in Niger state, and a grant would go a long way in being established at other locations in the country. Umama growing bigger as a brand is my plan for the business. The team and I have put future goals into perspective, now we just have to keep executing like we have been doing in the past.
What keeps you moving?
If you know where you want to be and are determined to be there, you would also know it requires courage. So, in essence, your goals and objectives are enough reasons to be confident.