At the just concluded Social Media Week in Lagos, different companies and organizations had taken space to display what they’ve got. But what caught the attention of many visitors to the event was a young female, Binta Alkali, who displayed her well-packaged kulikuli (fried groundnut cake) and dankoowa (ground groundnut balls).
Alkali is actually a graduate and graphic designer.
Krusty Kully and Dankoowa Delite, she named her products. In addition to the displayed packaged kulikuli was a container filled with gari (cassava flakes), and another filled with cube sugar for those who will want to have a taste of her product free of charge before buying. At a corner of her stand was a water dispenser from where she fetches water for her customers who may want to soak gari and kulikuli right there.
Also, in a small tray at one side of her table was dankoowa diced into smaller sizes. All these she prepared free of charge for her potential customers as she welcomed everyone that visited her stand with a smile. Her appearance and good sense of diction made anyone who encountered her to want to listen to her and in the end patronize her.
Alkali was, indeed, a corporate kulikuli seller. As she told our correspondent, she, in fact, applies the social media platforms like whatsapp, instagram and facebook to advertise and sell her products.
Kulikuli is a peanut/groundnut crunchy snack eaten alone or with a mixture of soaked gari and sugar in water. It can also be eaten with fura and pap, and is sometimes ground and put into salad. The ground kulikuli is also used as an ingredient for suya and kilishi.
Alkali, managing partner at Kulinary Kraft, the makers of Krusty Kully and Dankoowa Delite, is a native of Bida in Niger State. She studied Industrial Design at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in Zaria, and got a Master’s in Advertising and Marketing from the University of Leeds. She is a professional graphic designer working in the real estate industry.
How Krusty Kully came about
Being a foodie, Binta always took her meals to the office. She usually had kulikuli and kunun tsamiya (millet gruel) or custard for breakfast at the office where some of her colleagues would deliberately wait for her at the breakfast table to share her kulikuli with her. This practice continued until sometime in 2016 it dawned on her to begin to sell the snack to her colleagues.
She said, “I asked my mother, who is the other managing partner for Kulinary Kraft, to send me some kulikuli. Then I went to Lagos Island and bought a plastic bag sealer and plastic containers. I spent a total of N14,000. I took the packaged kulikuli to my office, sold everything and made N30,000. The following week, I made N50,000 and that was how the business began.”
Immediately the business started, she began to think of giving it a name and packaging it to make it attractive. She came up with the name Krusty Kully and also designed a logo for the kulikuli packaging. Like many businesses in Nigeria, she thought it wise to register the business and open a bank account for it.
According to Alkali, a few months after registering her business, she started getting calls from Nigerians abroad, sharing testimonies of how they visited their friends or family and had Krusty Kully.
The business, according to her, has been funding itself since the initial N14,000 investment in 2016.
Market, challenges and prospect of the business
Since Alkali is based in Lagos, the bulk of her market is in Lagos. She identified logistics as the main challenge affecting her business, with lamentation that transporting her products from Niger where they are produced to Lagos comes with its challenges. “Sometimes, unforeseen circumstances happen and we get delays on deliveries. All the ingredients for making Krusty Kully are locally sourced in Niger State,” she said.
Her customers’ base, she said, varies from tourists and corporate individuals to mothers who buy for their kids’ lunch boxes. She also has retailers on her customers list now.
What has being a graduate got to do with it?
Alkali stated clearly that she was not ashamed of selling kulikuli; she is actually very proud of what she is doing. “Most times when I meet people and I introduce myself as a kulikuli seller instead of a creative designer, they think I’m joking. One day someone said to me, ‘You mean with your beautiful outfit, you sell kulikuli. Please stop fooling around and say the truth.’ I had a good laugh and showed the fellow my Instagram page and he was shocked,” she narrated.
Alkali’s father calls her ‘Nna kuli’, meaning kulikuli seller. She also noted that her knowledge of industrial design, graphic design and advertising & marketing has enabled her to take the business further than just being some snack she has for breakfast.
“We are looking towards improving the packaging by making it a lighter weight, especially for people who take it out of the country where weight seems to be a major problem. There are lots of Kully lovers around the world keeping us in business,” she enthused.
She described her greatest achievement as the “joy of self-accomplishment”. She urged Nigerian youths to get positively engaged and stop relying on white collar jobs that are not readily available.
“With limited jobs available, while in school or fresh out of school, I think young folks need to be more creative, find what they are passionate about and turn the passion into a money-making venture,” she said, stressing the need for a shift in orientation from waiting to be employed to being an employer.
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