This Mobile Bar Owner became the first to create Eco-Friendly straws in Africa
Chiyem Wendy Abah is quick becoming a familiar name in Lagos. The surge in young entrepreneurs in Nigeria’s busiest city has clearly left an impression on her so it comes as no surprise that she speaks with an air of authority and maturity as she is in fact a business owner. Her Mobile Bar, Barventure Elixirs has become the first to ever create customised Eco-friendly straws in Africa.
Barventure Elixirs is a mobile bar which provides stellar beverage catering services for events, bar and beverage consultations and now customized paper-straws. Chiyem’s directness and straight-forward demeanor are telling signs of her acute business acumen as she lets her success speak for itself. She speaks on the fears of venturing out as an entrepreneur, the impact of her religious beliefs on her business and keeping afloat against strong competition.
Please give a background of who you are and what you stand for?
I like to think I’m really driven, optimistic, hard-working and recently I’ve had to agree that I’m creative, in my own way. I studied business in school so in all honesty I don’t think what I do now is so far-fetched. It is a business after all. I stand majorly for hard work, smart work and conviction from God to know you’re walking in the right purpose or direction, His plan for me or you and for perfect work.
“If you’re going to do something, do it the best way you can because someone else can come and do it better than you. Make it difficult for them to top your products and services.”
What inspired your business choice as it is rather unconventional and unique?
Well, inspiration came from working as the brand Manager for Remy Martin in Nigeria for a while. I learnt more about events, beverages, mine and my competitors’. I also got a good hold on the business of it. I can say I realized it was something I was good at and particularly enjoyed doing so I don’t think it came as a shock to anyone when I decided this is what I wanted to do full time. It flowed well for me.
“I understood the market before I ventured into it.”
On initial fears before starting out…
I think my biggest fear was, how will I survive not receiving regular income? Will I be dedicated and disciplined enough? I brought it up with people as well but like I said, it didn’t come as a surprise. I’m glad I took the bold step when I did.
Did religion ever come into play with your choice of business being that it’s a mobile bar and many are still rather conservative?
Oh yes. Sometimes it still does as I’m a believer and I have to explain to church what I do and although I confess that I’ve made more money from serving alcoholic cocktails, it really isn’t the only service we provide. People make a choice. Nobody that I know of has ever gotten drunk off my cocktails. So I’m serving an experience not drunkenness. People are starting to recognize that.
With the current economic climate, how do you manage to stay afloat and what keeps you going?
Well, we look for ways to stay relevant. We manufacture drinking straws now. We are relevant to even our competition. We are the only company in Nigeria and I think in Africa as a whole that manufactures themed drinking straws – Eco friendly. We have a few designs for sale, other designs will be coming soon on straight and bendy forms; we also take custom orders.
Where would you like to be in the next 10 years?
In Lagos, with the next 3 products we plan to manufacture already doing well in the market and also with our own farm growing exotic fruits for cocktails, purées and syrups.
What is your advice for anyone looking to come into your line of business?
Practice, practice, practice mixing drinks when you can. Read a lot on these things, learn what foreign bartenders and mixologists are doing, find out how to stay relevant and consistent. Learn to take great pictures of your drinks.
Like many, Chiyem is part of an era and cultural phenomenon in which Entrepreneurship among young people have become the norm as opposed to being a rarity; Quite the opposite of what they’ll have you believe about Africa. Ingenuity and Innovation are two words that sum up your average Nigerian millennial.
Woman like the Wind is proud to feature more and more stories of this nature as we showcase a different Africa than what the international media will have you believe. Miss Abah is definitely one to watch and we are excited to watch this flower blossom as she continues to break records and give new definition to what it means to slay in your ’20s.