Despite an unexpected entry into the food industry, Naomi Alfred of Lasgidi Sharwama and Burger has proven she has what it takes to run a thriving food business in Nigeria. In the bustling metropolis of Lagos, she has wowed customers with delicious tastes and exceptional service delivery, for which she shares her gratitude to Bolt Food.
As one of the top vendors on the Bolt Food platform, she has gained access to its innovation and technology expertise, ensuring that partner restaurants benefit from its loyal customer base. In this chat with Naomi, she speaks on running Lasgidi Shawarma and Burger and her experience as a vendor on the Bolt Food platform.
Kindly introduce yourself and your food business.
My name is Naomi Alfred, and I own Lasgidi Shawarma and Burger, a Lagos-based food business. Four years since we began, it has sometimes been a challenge. We have had great and hard times, but it’s been a good experience.
What motivated you to go into the food industry?
If anyone had told me that I would end up as a food vendor, I would have claimed that to be a colossal lie. It was an opportunity that I coincidentally fell in love with. Initially, I had a different business that I was operating, but this food business came as an opportunity.
I had a friend who was in this industry but wanted to get rid of her restaurant as it wasn’t doing too well. She told me about it, and I immediately declined,, but after a week, she reached out to me again and talked about how I had a good following on social media. I sat on this for another week before I decided to give it a try. I bought the business over from her, paid the rent and other expenses, and employed someone to work with me. Before starting the business, I had never even had shawarma before in my life, so I went on YouTube and made some for my friends. After a bit of back and forth, getting all the ingredients right and more research, we could go live. We began with a basic menu, but now, the business has outgrown me. My whole menu has expanded beyond shawarma and burgers into something else, and I feel it will keep growing.
Please give us an idea of your menu.
We majorly focus on Nigerian fast food. Basically, meals that do not take up to 30 minutes to prepare. So we’re talking about yam fries, potato fries, chicken wings, noodles, pasta, etc. That’s our focus for now, but the spirit is leading me to expand even more significantly. Imagine a girl who never thought she would have a restaurant or sell food is now thinking of attending culinary school next year. That’s in my plans for 2023!
You are one of the top vendors on the Bolt Food app. How did you learn about the platform, and what inspired your decision to register your business?
When I started my business, I felt I was doing so well that so many people should be reaching out to me. So I reached out to a food delivery platform that said they would register me. They were a big deal at that time. They were the only online food platform in Nigeria then. But they never continued with me even though I reached out to them multiple times.
Bolt Food reached out to us when they were just about to launch, and I jumped at the opportunity as I was looking for an online platform to partner with. Before I continue, no platform that came before or after Bolt Food can top them. After partnering with Bolt Food, we have partnered with other food delivery platforms, but the difference is staggering. I feel like once you’ve used Bolt Food, nothing else will appeal to you. While their marketing may not be as strong as other platforms, their service is top-class. So, any person thinking of establishing a food business should consider joining an online platform should go to Bolt Food; they are worth the hype!
What has been your experience since you joined the Bolt Food platform, and how has it impacted your operations?
Earnings have been great; I’m not even going to lie. would give them a huge hug if Bolt Food was a person if Bolt Food was a person. Their service has just been outstanding and seamless. There is no back and forth. They send the order, we prepare it, and then there’s a rider to pick up the order. Sometimes they may not have a rider at that moment which is not their fault as they outsource riders, but a rider will eventually come. The process has been seamless, and the money has been sweet.
Every Monday morning, the weekly deposits come in without us having to call. If it doesn’t come that Monday for some reason, it will be available the next week with your entire proceeds. I’ve never had any issues with Bolt Food. Other platforms should go and train with Bolt Food. I’m on all these other platforms,, which is why I can bluntly give my first-hand experience. More than that, I sometimes order through the app so I can get the experience from the customer side, and it’s the same thing. It’s such a seamless process. I don’t know how they figured it out, but they did.
As a food vendor in Nigeria, what are the biggest challenges or difficulties in the industry?
In the industry, the number one challenge is market prices. Market prices affect the cost of production, and customers want prices to stay the same. So we try to find a balance and compromise with customers. When we can’t increase the price, we may have to reduce the quantity and vice-versa; that’s just market prices. That’s the major problem with the Nigerian economy. I bought ketchup for N24,000 in September,, and when I tried to restock at the end of October, it was N44,000. So there goes my entire margin. The second challenge is logistics which is a whole issue that gives me a headache. We have riders we work with on our own, but it’s a pain to deal with. Those are our two significant challenges: market pricing and logistics.
What advice would you give to fellow and aspiring restaurateurs looking to join the Nigerian market?
Bolt Food is the way to go as your food delivery platform. Another thing they need to know is that there would be competition. Even when they see others selling for less, they shouldn’t try to compete by force as long the quality is 100%. Sometimes when I see how much people are selling for, I wonder how they are even making a profit. Some of them even begin reducing the quality of their food to be the lowest-priced vendor, which makes no sense. That’s why I always say, don’t look at other people’s prices. Make your products the best you can and charge according to what it is worth.