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From before Nigeria became an entity till the present day, many businesses both of local and international origin have enjoyed the ease franchise opportunities brought to the Nigerian market space.

Leveraging on the success, popularity and marketing strategy of an established brand has helped many SMEs, over time, grow from having only a handful of customers to establishing outlets in various locations across the nation.

Franchises are procurable in many industrial sectors of our booming economy. However, only a few of these sectors have made the most success from franchising. One such sector is the quick service restaurant business.

The food business is very important because it plays a core role in the survival of any nation. Many businesses have been able to play this to their advantage with franchises to attain huge success in this sector.

Nigeria’s Franchise Pioneer, Mr Biggs

Mr Bigg’s can be said to have set the pace for the thriving business of franchising in Nigeria. The company is owned by conglomerate United African Company of Nigeria PLC and is Nigeria’s earliest chain of fast food restaurants. It all started with the coffee shops inside Kingsway Department Stores in the 1960s. In 1973, the shops were rebranded as Kingsway Rendezvous and later became Mr Bigg’s in 1986. It wasn’t until the company began selling franchises that it saw a meteoric growth/expansion across the nation.

The strategy the pioneers of Mr Bigg’s adopted would see the business gain national acceptance as it spread to over 170 locations in Nigeria. They were able to successfully blend what Nigerians needed at the time with world class standard meals and services to create a restaurant business that no one could reject. Mr Bigg’s speciality is the meat pie. The restaurant giant specialized in pastries, fries and chicken. It also established itself with Nigerian delicacies such as jollof rice and moi-moi.

Fuelled by Passion, Chicken Republic

Another very successful franchise in the fast-food line is Chicken Republic. It was founded in 2004 by Deji Akinyanju who returned to Nigeria to start his business after 16 years in the United Kingdom.

Upon his return, Deji had successfully raised $2 million in seed funding from family and friends. At first, he had a franchise deal with the South African eatery, Chicken Licken. As time passed, he was able to make the best from the franchise and start up his own brand, Chicken Republic. Also, in 2003, Deji opened a South African bakery outlet; this too grew to become Nigeria’s largest bakery.

The success of Deji, who prior to his startup had no experience in running a restaurant business, was borne out of passion. Chicken Republic leveraged on the power of its major customer population- the youth. The company designed its services to meet the needs of the young. This strategy saw more youths troop to the restaurant until they could favourably compete with an already established brand like Mr Bigg’s.


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This article was first published on 30th August 2018


Achem Samuel is a writer and a musician, he is passionate about God and also an ardent fan of tech, sports and music.

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