22-year-old Grace Okezie comes from a family of seven. The Nigerian entrepreneur is in her final year as a medicine and surgery student at Abia State University Uturu in Aba. She holds a passion for teaching, and sees it as a way to not only impart or create knowledge and develop skills, but to also empower others.
Transition into Entrepreneurship
Grace started baking as a child, with only her family and some friends enjoying her baked treats. As she grew older and advanced in her medical studies, she became interested in promoting healthy living and eating habits. She saw snack consumption as one avenue through which she might bring about change. In the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life, snacks tend to be relatively accessible to many people. Therefore, Grace decided to start baking for profit and to provide people with healthy, affordable snacking options. This transition into entrepreneurship also enabled Grace to support herself and her siblings through school in the face of an economic downturn for her family.
Grace founded the aptly named Royal Graced Bakery Company in 2019. In the early days, her classmates made up the majority of her client base. With operations expanded to more than four institutions, more students, parents, workers, and local shops buy the baked goods. Grace’s sales strategy includes partnering with people who already sell snacks to students and enlisting them as distributors of her products. Royal Graced Bakery Company now also uses social media to establish a more direct line with prospective customers. The most popular product is the mini cake, while other offerings include pastries and maxi cakes for events. In the coming years, Grace plans to invest in commercial equipment that will help her scale up production and meet demand from more institutions as well as online sales.
Grace’s journey illustrates that young people can pursue traditional careers while also running job-generative businesses.