An Itch that Needed to be Scratched
‘Yemisi was working in the corporate world when she started feeling the itch to move onto something new. Privately, she had been cooking for over a decade, a passion that began in college when friends would ask her about her Nigerian heritage. As a response, ‘Yemisi would learn and serve the recipes of her childhood, taught to her by her mother. As the positive reactions filtered in, ‘Yemisi began to dedicate more time and effort to her cooking, spending the weekends doing food testing. She started to realize she could commit to her passion fulltime, and while still hesitant, decided she needed to go full force. “I couldn’t just wait around anymore and wait for changes to happen to me, I had to make the changes.” After over 15 years career in the fashion industry, ‘Yemisi made the move to transition to her next passion. After handing in her resignation, she immediately felt relief come over her, validating that she has made the right decision.
Egunsifoods is a line of refrigerated authentic West African dishes sourced both locally when possible from West African farmers, its mission to highlight the magic of West African culture. “I use food to express myself and my culture. I’m passionate about having West Africa shine in the way that it needs to.” ‘Yemisi named her business after the Egunsi seed, a West African seed with a versatile use as well as numerous economic and health benefits, and Egunsi soup, a dish synonymous with her culture as well as her favorite meal. Her mother, along with the Food Network reruns, have served as ‘Yemisi’s main sources of inspiration and culinary instructors throughout her journey.
She’s the Boss
While the demand for her product was high and she had saved much of her salary from her previous job, ‘Yemisi continued to need funding as she built her company and gained brand awareness for her products. ‘Yemisi was referred to Accion through her NYC small business counselor at the NYC Business Solution Center. With her loan, she was able to buy packaging and equipment to produce and package her product. “My loan consultant helped me out a lot – I got the funding almost immediately after submitting my application and the payment process has been seamless.”
Throughout her journey, the fulfillment that ‘Yemisi’s business has brought her has far outweighed the challenges. She has found a way to tell her story as well as a way to have a profound impact on the public. “It’s about bringing people together through food but sharing my culture with them at the same time.” When it comes to being her own boss, ‘Yemisi has no regrets. “It’s given me freedom. It’s been so rewarding to have something that is my own and that I’m truly passionate about. Even when I’m tired, I think this is worth it.”