Giel Foods: Story of Lawyer turned award-winning Farmer empowering women & feeding the Nation (exclusive interview)

With an ambitious vision to add value to Nigeria’s staple crops and foods through processing and a mission to increase the shelf life of staple crops and foods, Giel foods is on track to add value to every household and cause a food revolution in Nigeria & Africa.

At the center of this revolution is Eliel Isaac Sam, a graduate of University of Nigeria Nsukka, who hails from Akwa Ibom State. She founded Giel foods in 2013.

Giel foods produces Fufuvita (odourlessfufu), cassava flour, Eatable starch, garri, Ethanol, Unripe plantain and banana flour, beans flour, coconut flour, and coconut oil.

In this exclusive interview, Eliel Isaac Sam reveals timeless secrets for aspiring entrepreneurs.



What was the inspiration behind Giel foods?


Both my Dad and my husband refused to eat fufu because of the smell, this Inspired me to add value to Cassava.


How did you find your co-founders?

I founded the company alone. Sometime this year, I decided to bring in my husband and our son.


Was entrepreneurship a dream idea from when you were little?

All my life, I have dreamt about being a woman of my own, to use my head to chart my own path. I love to create things, invent new things, I am a wild thinker.


In spite of the many startups processing Cassava, how is Giel foods different?

Giel foods stands out among others because we offer incredible value. Our foods are instant. For instance, the fufuvita is fast to prepare and completely odorless. Our products also act as raw materials to other companies’. Thus, waste management gives Giel foods an edge over others because our wastes are converted into other useful products. For example, cassava ferments into ethanol and peels into animal feeds. We meet needs and our numerous customers love what we do.


Where is Giel foods located? How can your products or services be purchased?

Giel foods, is located at Uyo, the products can be purchased through phone orders, WhatsApp & email for now. Our website is currently under construction.


What were the key challenges you faced initially?

Where and how to find my workers because food processing needs people with like minds and passion.  Where to get my processing machines was also a challenge. I settled for cost effective, super-efficient local fabricators. Getting NAFDAC approval and Taxation were huge challenges too.


One major problem with many startups in Nigeria is the lack of Capital, how were you able to attract investors?

My capital came from my savings and a small loan from the cooperative I belong to. My husband gave me the land I built the factory on.


Have you won any awards, honors or special recognition as an individual or on behalf of Giel foods?


Giel has won so many awards and recognition with the most recent being from Akwa-Ibom state Commerce and industry. Also, I was selected as one of the top 50 emerging entrepreneurs in Nigeria in the Diamond Bank Building Entrepreneurs Tomorrow Program, supported by Lagos Business School.



Was there any special skill you had or had to learn in order to build Giel foods?

Yes, CAVA trained my staff & I on making high quality cassava flour.


You run a highly successful cooperative society. Why did you start one?

Hmm, cooperative society is crucial to my business success. 6% of my startup capital came from cooperative. I am the president of Akwa-lbom women cooperative/Processors association. I empower these women to cultivate Giel food’s raw materials, as such we don’t run out of raw materials, while these women sell to a ready made market, soend zero on marketing and smile home with money. We also contribute money and lend it out, we call this money thrift savings. Members have it at 5% while non-members get it at 10%. We have 250 primary cooperatives as registered members.


Any words of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs out there?

Well my advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is that they should allow their vision and passion to lead them. I read law, because my Dad wanted a lawyer in the family. My passion was to be an entrepreneur, an employer of labor, so l simply gave my Dad the law certificate and pursued my passion.

Published by Ogunbowale Olugbenga

Ogunbowale Olugbenga is a multiple award winning social entrepreneur & digital skills expert. An alumnus of the Leadership in Business Institute of Kellogg School of Management (USA), He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Obafemi Awolowo University (Nigeria). Inspired by the plight of millions of unemployed youths, Olugbenga founded, a digital agency passionately growing businesses & accelerating the application of digital skills for economic prosperity across Africa. To help institutions prevent scandals & promote performance, Gbenga founded Polivoice.Work, an anonymous employee feedback tool that captures & analyses feedback anonymously in real time to detect, predict & improve work place conditions. A Mandela Washington Fellow, Tony Elumelu Fellow, Royal Common wealth society fellow, YALI star of business & YALI network influencer, Olugbenga is the founder of Africa’s biggest orphanage outreach, The Orphan Empowerment Society, with a 5,000 strong volunteer force and a presence in 19 African countries empowering thousands of orphans with free vocational skills, medical care, & food. He is also the co-founder of the communication & leadership organization, Pacesetters Leadership Club.

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