Telling stories with courage

Somthing2know Amazon of the Week: Mosunmola Cynthia Umoru – Founder & CEO Farmshoppe- for her contributions to agriculture in Nigeria

“It takes character to weather life’s storms. At the same time, adversity develops character- John C. Maxwell. Author and activist Helen Keller, who could not hear or see, remarked, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quit. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition impaired, and success achieved. A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of little courage”- Sydney Smith. All these, put together, tell the story of Mosunmola Cynthia Umoru. Her journey into farming started in 2004. As an undergraduate student, she was thinking about what she could do differently. She had the privilege of doing her internship with Exxon Mobil at the Environmental Laboratory. “People’s lives change when they change something they do every day”-John C. Maxwel.  During that period, she realized that she needed more excitement in her life than the regular 8am-5pm job.  To rejectthe regular 8am-5pm job atthe Exxon Mobil job was what Mosunmola Cynthia Umoru needed to change her life.

“If you form a picture in your mind of what you would like to be, and you keep and hold that picture there long enough, you will soon become exactly as you have been thinking.”- William James. Cynthia Umoru had thought of entrepreneurship and showed signs of entrepreneurial quality at a young age; so, she was making and selling hair clips and ribbons at a local secondary school. She was also the president of the Young Farmers’ Club in her secondary school, a position she attained while following her recreational interest. Out of passion, she founded a retail industry Farmshoppe in 2011. Farmshoppe was borne from one of her businesses in the university. While in the university, she was shopping for women, who were busy executives and could not find the time to go to the market. She founded Farmshoppe to provide a platform where such women could come to pick their fresh food produce at competitive prices. She studied Zoology/Animal Biology at Lagos State University and it was while there, she embarked on her entrepreneurial journey.

In her final year, she launched the business she’s now known for – Honeysuckles PTL Ventures – where she sells processed food produce. Soon after launching, she got one of the fastest growing food retail chains in Nigeria into her clientele to supply dressed chicken and catfish. Scarcity of produce and low quality soon became a challenge, and this made Cynthia to launch her farm to solve the problem. Cynthia is not just bettering her life and those of her clients with her skill and knowledge; she’s also giving back to the society, especially to the younger generation.

She had lost money and time while she was starting up, mainly because of lack of a mentor which she doesn’t want this to happen to the younger generation. One of her farms is used for training of young individuals interested in agriculture. She also engages schools, governments and businesses to recognize the effect of the absence of infrastructure on youth’s participation in modern agriculture. Passion can energize every aspect of a person’s life-including his talent.”-John Maxwell. Her passion in agric business made her to see an opportunity in farm produce with Tantalizers which she could fill in the gap. She latched onto it and started sourcing snails, and later chicken. She travelled to different parts of the country in search of snails to supply to Tantalizers which she could not get in abundance. Along the line, her strong passion in agric business made her discovered that snails were seasonal, and she became very curious and decided to try her hands on breeding them. That was how she got into farming. That singular but interesting experience she had with snails has evolved into poultry farming and chicken processing.

Mosun started the business in different phases because of adversity and financial hardship. When she began in 2004, she had just N80, 000. That was her savings! It was the money she got from the sale of GNLD products and the cakes she baked to sell. She plunged it all into sourcing for chickens. “If you cannot save money, then the seeds  of greatness are not in you.”-W.Clement Stone.

“Success is a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you’re tired-you quit when the gorilla is tired”- Robert Strauss.  In the early part of 2005, she got a life line from a friend, who after being impressed by her business plan gave her N300, 000 as she could not get a bank loan at the time.  She later got a loan from an uncle who was very supportive.  With this, she was able to meet the initial demands for her products. As demands grew, she had to borrow money from friends and family members to sustain the business until she finally got a bank loan in 2006.

From a little start in 2004, Mosunmola Umoru is now CEO of Farmshoppe, who oversees the development & operations of a 7,000-hectare agribusiness – principally in farming, food production, processing and distribution of a wide range of produce. Mosunmola is an Ashoka Fellow and Goldman Sachs 10,000 women Scholar, who has served as an ambassador, advocate and consultant to the African Union Commission (Youth Division).

“A great deal of talent is lost to the world for want of a little courage”- Sydney SmithMosunmola courage has propelled her to set up ABIRA Agricultural and Educational Support Initiative to help bridge the gaps identified in Nigeria and to pursue significant youth involvement in the sector, realizing that sustainable economic growth rests on SME development. ABIRA engages schools, governments, and businesses through a range of highly-impactful partnerships and interventions and to establish a training program to teach business to young people. Her advocacy initiatives for the Agricultural sector have earned several awards and consultancy roles in Africa. Mosunmola was recently selected by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader.

“Persistence is stubbornness for a purpose”- Rich De Voss. Her persistence, hard work and dedication in agric entrepreneurship business earned her the 2009 Business Owner of the Year award at The Future Awards Africa (TFAA). In 2011, she was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship. Since 2016, Cynthia has been serving as a Technical Adviser (Youth & Gender) in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, advising on an inclusive approach for youth and women engagement in agricultural economic activities in Nigeria. Cynthia is an alumnus of the Pan African University under the Enterprise Development Center (CEM) and Alum of the U.S Department of States International Visitors Leadership Programme. Cynthia has served as a Youth Consultant to the African Union Commission. Mosunmola Cynthia Umoru, has made a mark in agriculture and agric entrepreneurship business. For her contributions to the development of agriculture, Mosunmola Cynthia Umoru is somthing2know Amazon of the week. We appreciate her.

Nathaniel Udoh

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