Entrepreneur Cafe Nairobi and Young African Leaders Initiative met in a twenty day old Nigerian
restaurant. One of the strategies of the entrepreneurs behind it is exactly that: to bring the social
groups and meetups they are involved in to the place. Not only did we enjoy Nigerian cuisine, we also discussed the challenges and success stories around the venture.
One challenge was certainly the blackout that unfortunately struck whole Nairobi that night. But with candles and cups of hot tea we sat outside and made ourselves familiar with each other. Another challenge Zak, who is the manager on the ground, told us about, was his lack of experience in managing a restaurant. He had managed other ventures and people before, but not specifically a restaurant. Especially finding the ingredients for the food turned out to be harder than expected. But as an entrepreneur he struggles forward and uses his network to gain experience. Marketing, he said, was not a challenge, because they opened a place to a ready customer base who had been waiting for such a restaurant. Many people come when they are hungry and can’t think of anything else but Nigerian food.
Other customers ask for delivery, and that was something they were not prepared enough for. They would like to invest in a motorbike, but finding a reliable driver is a challenge. Also collaborating with an East African food delivery service might not yet solve all their problems. “You won’t tell a hungry Nigerian to download an app and once more place their order through that,” Zak said. They compete with the few other restaurant in the niche by having better prices and service. Since the city still remained dark, and it became a bit chilly, we opened up the meeting to mingle inside, exchange contacts and share experiences and advice – all that at the romantic light of some candles, phone lights and a strong stand-alone spotlight.
The lights went on again to expose empty plates, full stomachs and – most importantly – new
contacts or even partnerships made.