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The Man Who Knows What Billionaires Eat For Lunch

Tolu Erogbobo didn’t plan to be a chef, but he makes a living cooking for Aliko Dangote, Mike Adenuga and Lauren Hill.

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Tolu Erogbobo is the latest sensation in the Nigerian gourmet scene, famed for creating delectable pastries, cookies and signature dishes for those who crave quality food in Lagos. He is popularly known as Chef Eros, named after the Greek god of love. His love for food means the 28-year-old chef counts billionaire tycoons Mike Adenuga and Aliko Dangote, as well as international stars like Lauren Hill, among his clients. It has also led to him being labelled as the next big thing to watch by CNN.

For Erogbobo it is surreal; he never planned to become a chef.

“When I started business I didn’t want to be a chef, I just wanted to be a restaurateur. I loved the restaurant business; I had worked on a few restaurant projects in my younger days. In the UK I worked with Oceania (Hotels )Group where they had set up a few restaurants in my university and just seeing the delivery of the equipment, putting them in place, making them work and designing a place to make it feel nice, was so exciting for me,” says Erogbobo, the Founder of Cookie Jar, a gourmet bakery.

That was before Erogbobo had an unlikely experience in the kitchen.

“All of that switched in a year of me finding my true love, which is food. I found that through chicken; just seasoning chicken, putting the spices together, and then different cooking processes giving you different textures. I found the love for food in university then I combined that with the love for interior spaces, which is what drove the passion for the restaurant.”

After graduating in 2008 with a business degree from the University of Wolverhampton, in England, Erogbobo moved back to Nigeria with the plan to help his mother set up a restaurant.

It cost N60 million ($190,000) to start the first restaurant. Erogbobo was 21 years old at the time. His mother and sister put up a significant amount of the start-up capital.

“The funds for the restaurant were raised predominantly by my mother who sold one of her properties to invest. My sister supported with some her saving and so did I,” he says.

Erogbobo knew that location was key, however all the best locations in town came at a steep price. As luck would have it, he found a restaurant in Victoria Island whose owner was looking to sell and agreed to let the cash-strapped Erogbobo pay in monthly instalments.

“The owner said to me he didn’t want to sell the restaurant anymore because I didn’t have the money to buy it all at once, so he offered to be partners instead. So I came in, used the money I had to revamp the place from just a café to a café restaurant and that is how the journey actually started,” says Erogbobo.

The restaurant later failed because Erogbobo did not keep his eye on the numbers, according to the young entrepreneur. After a brief stint in real estate and energy, the calling of the kitchen could no longer be ignored.

“I started having dreams about cookies and they continued every other night. They were so vivid and I would wake up sometimes and I would be so emotional. In 2012, I got all the ingredients needed, went online, found the recipe I wanted and came back to bake. The first batch of cookies I made fell flat but they tasted really good. I went back and did more homework and I tried it out again, and it worked out. I went downstairs and gave my friends some to try and they all loved it. One of my friends offered to pay me and I didn’t know how much to charge so I said N500 ($1.50) per cookie and he didn’t object, so he bought four.”

Erogbobo realized he was onto something and needed to spread the word quickly.

“I started baking everyday and started posting pictures on [messaging app] BBM and I found out that BBM was working. So every time I would go out, I would get a lot of BBM contacts because I wanted them to see my updates and I used to update like every five minutes. It was annoying for a lot of people because you were always seeing me on your timeline but the moment you think of nibbling on something, the first thing you think of is me,” says Erogbobo.

Business soon took off. Aptly for someone called Chef Eros, Valentine’s Day came and Erogbobo sold over $2,500 worth of cookies over the love season and he has been on a trajectory ever since. The company is in its third year and currently turns over N150 million ($480,000) per year according to Erogbobo. The growth has been fast with three kitchens opened in Lagos, including Glasshouse Catering, which provides cocktail-style catering for events; Cookie Jar, which is the bakery and Eros and Gourmet, the speciality savoury dish brand.

As if his success wasn’t remarkable enough, this year Erogbobo was recruited by Food Revolution, the campaign started by culinary master Jamie Oliver. The celebrity chef launched the program to encourage people from all over the world to adopt a healthy eating lifestyle and push their own government to fight diet related diseases.

Joining the Food Revolution was a dream come true for Erogbobo. This year, he is gearing up to open a new catering service offering a 24-hour healthy breakfast menu for his clients.

“The Food Revolution is all about changing the way people eat, buy, grow, and what people understand about food. My global goal is zero hunger and for the next 15 years I aim to help end hunger in Africa. To do that we have to achieve sustainable agriculture, achieve improved nutrition and improved food security,” says Erogbobo.

With  Erogbobo’s passion for food, don’t bet against him.

Entrepreneurs

From The Arab World To Africa

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Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi; image supplied

In this exclusive interview with FORBES AFRICA, successful Dubai-based Emirati businesswoman, author and artist, Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi, shares some interesting insights on fashion, the future, and feminism in a shared world.

Sheikha Hend Faisal Al Qassimi wears many hats, as an artist, architect, author, entrepreneur and philanthropist based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). She currently serves as the CEO of Paris London New York Events & Publishing (PLNY), that includes a magazine and a fashion house.

She runs Velvet Magazine, a luxury lifestyle publication in the Gulf founded in 2010 that showcases the diversity of the region home to several nationalities from around the world.

In this recent FORBES AFRICA interview, Hend, as she would want us to call her, speaks about the future of publishing, investing in intelligent content, and learning to be a part of the disruption around you.

As an entrepreneur too and the designer behind House of Hend, a luxury ready-to-wear line that showcases exquisite abayas, evening gowns and contemporary wear, her designs have been showcased in fashion shows across the world.

The Middle East is known for retail, but not typically, as a fashion hub in the same league as Paris, New York or Milan. Yet, she has changed the narrative of fashion in the region. “I have approached the world of fashion with what the customer wants,” says Hend. In this interview, she also extols African fashion talent and dwells on her own sartorial plans for the African continent.

In September, in Downtown Dubai, she is scheduled to open The Flower Café. Also an artist using creative expression meaningfully, she says it’s important to be “a role model of realism”.

She is also the author of The Black Book of Arabia, described as a collection of true stories from the Arab community offering a real glimpse into the lives of men and women across the Gulf Cooperation Council region.

In this interview, she also expounds on her home, Sharjah, one of the seven emirates in the UAE and the region’s educational hub. “A number of successful entrepreneurs have started in this culturally-rich emirate that’s home to 30 museums,” she concludes. 

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Kim Kardashian West Is Worth $900 Million After Agreeing To Sell A Stake In Her Cosmetics Firm To Coty

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In what will be the second major Kardashian cashout in a year, Kim Kardashian West is selling a 20% stake in her cosmetics company KKW Beauty to beauty giant Coty COTY for $200 million. The deal—announced today—values KKW Beauty at $1 billion, making Kardashian West worth about $900 million, according to Forbes’estimates.

The acquisition, which is set to close in early 2021, will leave Kardashian West the majority owner of KKW Beauty, with an estimated 72% stake in the company, which is known for its color cosmetics like contouring creams and highlighters. Forbes estimates that her mother, Kris Jenner, owns 8% of the business. (Neither Kardashian West nor Kris Jenner have responded to a request for comment about their stakes.) According to Coty, she’ll remain responsible for creative efforts while Coty will focus on expanding product development outside the realm of color cosmetics.

Earlier this year, Kardashian West’s half-sister, Kylie Jenner, also inked a big deal with Coty, when she sold it 51% of her Kylie Cosmetics at a valuation of $1.2 billion. The deal left Jenner with a net worth of just under $900 million. Both Kylie Cosmetics and KKW Beauty are among a number of brands, including Anastasia Beverly Hills, Huda Beauty and Glossier, that have received sky-high valuations thanks to their social-media-friendly marketing. 

“Kim is a true modern-day global icon,” said Coty chairman and CEO Peter Harf in a statement. “This influence, combined with Coty’s leadership and deep expertise in prestige beauty will allow us to achieve the full potential of her brands.”

The deal comes just days after Seed Beauty, which develops, manufactures and ships both KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, won a temporary injunction against KKW Beauty, hoping to prevent it from sharing trade secrets with Coty, which also owns brands like CoverGirl, Sally Hansen and Rimmel. On June 19, Seed filed a lawsuit against KKW Beauty seeking protection of its trade secrets ahead of an expected deal between Coty and KKW Beauty. The temporary order, granted on June 26, lasts until August 21 and forbids KKW Beauty from disclosing details related to the Seed-KKW relationship, including “the terms of those agreements, information about license use, marketing obligations, product launch and distribution, revenue sharing, intellectual property ownership, specifications, ingredients, formulas, plans and other information about Seed products.”

Coty has struggled in recent years, with Wall Street insisting it routinely overpays for acquisitions and has failed to keep up with contemporary beauty trends. The coronavirus pandemic has also hit the 116-year-old company hard. Since the beginning of the year, Coty’s stock price has fallen nearly 60%. The company, which had $8.6 billion in revenues in the year through June 2019, now sports a $3.3 billion market capitalization. By striking deals with companies like KKW Beauty and Kylie Cosmetics, Coty is hoping to refresh its image and appeal to younger consumers.

Kardashian West founded KKW Beauty in 2017, after successfully collaborating with Kylie Cosmetics on a set of lip kits. Like her half-sister, Kardashian West first launched online only, but later moved into Ulta stores in October 2019, helping her generate estimated revenues of $100 million last year. KKW Beauty is one of several business ventures for Kardashian West: She continues to appear on her family’s reality show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, sells her own line of shapewear called Skims and promotes her mobile game, Kim Kardashian Hollywood. Her husband, Kanye West, recently announced a deal to sell a line of his Yeezy apparel in Gap stores.

“This is fun for me. Now I’m coming up with Kimojis and the app and all these other ideas,” Kardashian West told Forbesof her various business ventures in 2016. “I don’t see myself stopping.”

Madeline Berg, Forbes Staff, Hollywood & Entertainment

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Entrepreneurs

Covid-19: Restaurants, Beauty Salons, Cinemas Among Businesses That Will Operate Again In South Africa As Ramaphosa Announces Eased Lockdown Restrictions

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South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation announcing that the government will further ease the country’s lockdown restrictions.

Restaurants, beauty salons, cinemas are among the businesses that will be allowed to operate again in South Africa.

The country is still on lockdown ‘Level 3’ of the government’s “risk adjusted strategy”.

President Ramaphosa also spoke on the gender based violence in the country.

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I stand before the women and the girls of South Africa this evening to talk about another pandemic that is raging in our country. The killing of women and children by the men of our country. As a man, as a husband, and as a father to daughters, I am appalled at what is no less than a war that is being waged against the women and the children of our country,” says Ramaphosa.

Watch below:

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