Boli Junction boss, Assam Victor-Ifeanyi, is a graduate of Linguistics and Communication Studies from the University of Port Harcourt. She has worked in business development, customer service and in the administrative department of a few organizations. Armed with a professional certification in customer service, she set out to offer well-known, familiar food in new, exciting ways.
CN: How would you describe your business?
Boli Junction is a safe place for food lovers who are adventurous and are not afraid of trying new meals or a combination of meals.
CN: What’s the story behind this unique business? Why boli, and why Boli Junction?
The story behind Boli Junction goes way back to 2012 in the city of Port Harcourt, when I was pregnant with my daughter. First of all, I LOVE FOOD! All kinds of food but I have always loved the roasted plantain and fish combo specially, even considered serving it at my wedding (laughs)
. I craved it excessively during my pregnancy, it practically became all I ate during that period. So I bought it from a nearby vendor every other day. Fast forward to 2014 when my family and I moved to Lagos, roasted plantain and groundnut everywhere. I nearly had a panic attack. I tried to ignore but then came 2016, I became pregnant with my second child and no boli (we call it bole in the south-south) and fish!! It was so frustrating. My husband and I had talked about ‘initiating’ these Lagos people to roasted plantain, grilled fish and pepper sauce when we first moved to Lagos. We toyed with the idea for over two years. So after I had my baby in August 2016 we started planning, strategizing and finally started executing and voila! We successfully brought the south-south style roasted plantain and fish to Lagos.
The name came from days of mind mapping and strategizing. A junction is an identifier when looking for a particular place, so in this context, Boli Junction is the point where adventurous food lovers find what they have been looking for.
CN: How did you raise capital to start the business?
I initially started from the balcony of my house. Got a grill and other necessities from my first grilling job. Some awesome friends of ours gave me contracts to make 10 packs, then 25, then 40 packs and so on. Over time my balcony became too small so I spoke to another friend to come in as a partner. He gave the initial bulk capital which we used to scale up, and got a place in Lekki Phase One to help with proximity as most of our clients were and still are in Victoria Island, Lekki Phase One, Ikoyi and Marina. Unfortunately, the partnership didn’t continue but that money helped set everything in motion. Some other awesome friends have supported in immeasurable ways.
CN: What is your unique selling point and why should boli lovers choose Boli Junction over the countless competitors on every street?
Have you tasted our sauce??? Let me just leave it there (laughs
). Just one encounter is all I ask. Our recipe is a well-guarded secret that has given us some pretty loyal customers. Well, the down the street Boli person isn’t us, we bring some crazy creativity to the table and they are not our competition.
CN: What advice do you wish you had received as an undergraduate?
I wish I was told that you could still make something phenomenal out of your life that wasn’t related to what you read in school. I would have made better decisions in some aspects of my life.
CN: What do you consider to be the best career decision you have ever made?
Going into the customer service profession and now, delving into the food industry.
CN: Which entrepreneurs inspire you?
Tara Fela-Durotoye of House of Tara, Ijeoma Ndukwe of Bubez Pap, Biola Alabi of Biola Alabi Media, Francis Ebie of GrindGrillCafe.
CN: Which books have made a difference in your life?
The Lady, Her Lover, and Her Lord
by Bishop TD Jakes, Redeeming Love
by Francine Rivers. I am an internet ostrich; I read a lot online. I’m sure Google knows my name by now.
CN: What advice do you have for Nigerians who long to start their own businesses?
I seriously beg to differ with the popular belief that entrepreneurship is a lone ride on an island. This Boli Junction journey wouldn’t have come to pass or even lasted this long without the support of other entrepreneurs turned friends then turned sisters and brothers. You can’t go alone, you need support. Prayerfully ask God to direct you to your “destiny” helpers and he definitely will.
Reds and Greens, Plot 12 Road 1, Ikota Villa Estate, Lekki, Lagos State
Click here to contact Boli Junction directly
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This article was first published on 18th August 2017 and updated on November 6th, 2017 at 11:39 am