Princess Adeyinka Tekenah is the founder of one of Nigeria’s premier indigenous coffee franchises, Happy Coffee. The Bachelor of Art graduate who is a recipient of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs Foundation award, also holds high Honours from the prestigious Harold Washington University Chicago. Tekenah went on to acquire a Business Management degree from the University of Phoenix. Her career has traversed government, charity and business development. A life member of the Phi Theta Kappa honours roll call and Dean list, she serves as an advisory member of ‘Apple of All Nations Nigeria and UK’ (a charity for the needy and fatherless). She’s currently the Business Designer for Ochaoptasia. Adeyinka previously served as a Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on CSR, PPP and MDG to the Amuwo Odofin local government chairman. She has been awarded by Hernetwork for Startup and Goodlifestyle in Local creativity in business. Tekenah is passionate about business designs and advancement leading to sustainable growth and development for African women. In this interview with IJEOMA-THOMAS-ODIA, she shares her drive for running a business among other issues.
At what point did you decide to be an entrepreneur?
I grew with parents who were entrepreneurs. I must have been bitten by the bug. So it was not much of a mental struggle to start. It came almost naturally to start my businesses. My first business entity was in 2008. I started a real estate company called Exquisite Living in Chicago. Happy Coffee happens to be my second business entity.
What motivated you to setting up Happy Coffee? What stands this out?
Happy Coffee is an answer to African Development. Africa is on path to extraordinary times in her history. It is imperative to design narrative within our own context. Happy Coffee was born out of a call for African entrepreneurs to bring forth ideas that can transform African continent. This coffee idea was chosen among nearly 20, 000 applications/ideas. In 2015, this idea’s main focus was to look deeply into the Nigerian coffee sector and why an average Nigerian didn’t have access to local supply. Moreso, it was to lay foundation for a Nigerian coffee brand using our own narrative, creativity and originality. Happy Coffee is being built for Africa by Africans. Our mission is to re-introduce and substantiate the art of coffee drinking to our customers, while building a dynamic workforce and business model that will transform the coffee industry in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. Happy Coffee is currently poised to driving a coffee movement across the landscape using innovative solutions whilst boosting the book reading culture through our mobile café/library.
What needs are you filling up in the society with this business?
Employment is one of the needs we are addressing as a business. Our business model create jobs and support for local farmers. It is also designed to educate and create awareness about Nigerian coffee to both domestic and international consumers
You are passionate about business designs and advancement leading to sustainable growth and development for African women, tell us about some of your feats?
I believe that if a woman is equipped with an enabling system, she thrives and four generations are catered for. A woman builds for longevity. As a founder of an indigenous coffee brand, we create opportunities for women business owners to take advantage of our coffee platform. We foster business transactions with complementary brands for collaboration and sustainability. I sincerely believe that collaboration between women is yet one of the worlds most untapped resources. On my personal time, I am a sound board for several women, helping them to redefine their business models, ideas while encouraging them to unleash their creativity sides.
In your years of running a business, what key values should a startup entrepreneur equip themselves with?
Integrity is your right of refusal to compromise. Dont compromise your standards or your principles.
Running a business and working even in the public sector, what has it taught you over the years?
There is so much to be done. The work ahead is enormous. Interestingly, both are at parallels. As a business owner, your focus is about how to improve your business acumen, while as a public officer my focus was to help the communities thrive. I dare to say that if you work as a public officer and later you start running a business, you will tend towards a socio-impact entity. You cannot ignore the challenges that face our society.
What is your advice to women on setting up a business alongside managing family?
Hmmmm.. Don’t emotionally blackmail yourself as a woman. What I mean is that there is no need to feel guilty by your choices; whatever those choices are. Just accept your decisions and enjoy the circumstances that come with the territory. There is no special formula to managing family and business. Our perception differs, therefore, we must create our own realities. However, taking in cognisance the role society plays.
How have you been able to combine family with work and your passion?
There is no formula for balance. I work within the premises of my responsibilities and roles both presently and for future ambitions. Life is in stages, so I take to heed that things are done step by step. Most importantly, I chose to enjoy everything I set my heart to do.
What is your philosophy of life?
Life is a combination of moments. On this journey, what I cherish the most of all to remain compassionate.
How do you unwind?
I surf the internet endlessly. It helps unburden my mind.