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A Bitter Vine Bearing Fruit

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A colorful display of Simply Green Juices’ latest products, arranged neatly in the fridge, is hard to miss at the company’s store in Victoria Island, Lagos.

As the May sun streams through the balcony, a gleaming display of the popular juice – with the names Funky Beet, Pick Me Up, Cleanse Intense, Refresh and Get Naked –sparkle in the light. As a leader in Nigeria’s cold pressed juice market, Simply Green is a story born of tragedy.

“When I lost my brother, I told myself ‘you need to go back and do what you love doing’. I said to myself ‘why do you have to do something just for money, why don’t you do something you enjoy?’ I know a lot about farming so I thought to myself, ‘what is the one thing that you cannot find in Lagos?’” says Adeshola Ladoja, the Chief Executive Officer of Simply Green Juices.

The answer came from Ladoja’s childhood dream of being in the field.

“I always wanted to retire as a farmer on a rocking chair, just chilling. I went to my dad’s farm, which was rundown and had been closed, and I got some seeds and planted them and it started growing after some weeks. I said ‘ok, this is what I would like to do at 50 so why not start now’,” he says.

Ladoja’s journey has taken him on many paths. At the New York Institute of Technology he studied aeronautic engineering after which he worked as a systems integrator with Nortel Networks in New York. Following a four-year stint working with his dad on his farm, Ladoja decided to part ways to cut his teeth in yet another field.

“My dad and I didn’t have the same goal or plan towards the farm. He wanted something different from me; I got very frustrated and I decided to leave. I had nothing to do and became very broke and then I got a job at Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company. At this point I was thinking this is not my life. I want something better for my future,” says Ladoja.

It is this eye on the future saw hi buy his own farm in Ido, Oyo State, that has seen Simply Green Juices grow from a one-man business to a leader in the cold pressed juice market. From near anonymity two years ago when Ladoja started out, to a strong presence in Nigeria’s cosmopolitan city of Lagos, Ladoja will never forget the hard work it took to build his brand.

“I started off with a juicer that I used my dad’s credit card to pay for. It was $300.

I would wake up early in the morning to get the fruits, then I would use the juicer to blend it and by 6AM it’s in my trunk driving around Lekki ready to be dropped off for customers. Then I would go back and do the next shift. So I would do the morning shift from 12 midnight and then the afternoon shift will start from 2PM to 6PM.”

Traditional centrifugal juice extractors typically use a fast spinning metal blade, which generates heat and destroys some of the enzymes in the fruits and vegetables. Ladoja opted for cold pressed juicers, which first crush and then press the fruit and vegetables for the highest juice yield. According to him, Simply Green Juices was the first to market with this new trend.

The early days were full of ups and downs. Firstly, there was the issue of manpower.

“Staffing was a big problem. I had a challenge finding the right team. There were a lot of financial problems also because I had no money and I had to really grow the company from scratch.”

Then came battling Nigeria’s erratic power supply.

“There was no power to produce my juices so I had to use the little money I had to buy fuel to turn on my generator so I could work. Without money, it was very difficult also trying to push the product into the market. We were competing with 5Alive juice and other well-known brands already in the market with bigger budgets.”

“I started to understand why most farmers do not have money and why most farmers in Nigeria are broke and I knew the only way I could be successful was to add value and show how to make money from farming,” says Ladoja.

Ladoja decided to buck the trend. Instead of focusing on profits he turned his attention to expansion.

“I never thought about the money, I just thought I need to give my clients what they wanted until one day I realized that we had money in the bank account to actually expand. So we decided to expand, I got one staff member and I got a bike for delivery so I didn’t have to do it myself and then it just grew from there,” he says.

When Simply Green Juices started, it produced six bottles a day. By the end of the first month of business, that figure had increased to over 100 bottles. The company averages about 60 bottles a day and has launched a new range of products called Today’s Harvest. Ladoja isn’t resting on his laurels though; he wants to change Nigerian agriculture.

“We plan to reduce the importation of greens we bring into the country. The reason we import a lot of things, like vegetables, into Nigeria is because we don’t add value to what we grow and that is a big problem. So we are starting with vegetables and also milk, cheese, butter and everything to do with dairy. We are creating the first organic farm-to-table concept in Nigeria,” says Ladoja.

Ladoja is finally realizing his purpose, quenching the thirst of Nigeria while spending his days in the fields of his farm.

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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