The growth of a Nigerian-inspired snack empire

CHIKA RUSSELL'S NIGERIAN-INSPIRED HEALTHY SNACKS COMPANY IS NOW WORTH OVER 1 MILLION POUNDS

*checks on account balance and sobs*

I started this company after returning from a trip to West Africa, I came back with one belief, that in order to make a meaningful change in those communities, every child should have access to education, and we are committed to helping make that possible. I am not a charity, I am instead an avid believer of sharing; knowledge, passion, profits, entrepreneurship, ideas and love. It is the only way to grow positive behaviours and changes.

After turning down a $30,000 investment deal from Dragon's den panelist, Peter Jones; the 31-year-old Nigerian mother of two (Chialuka-5 and Zanni-4) went on to  build an empire worth over a million pounds that rests on her experience growing up in Anambra State, Nigeria. Her business empire produces a healthier alternative to hand cooked plantain, hand cooked chilli, blackpepper cashews, smoked almonds, hand toasted peanuts with skin, hand toasted peanuts without skin, chickpea crisps- chilli and chickpea crisps- spiced. 

I really wanted Peter Jones because of what he did with Reggae Reggae Sauce, but so much happened in the six weeks of due diligence. I hadn’t called it a business before. [Then I was] able to say, I have belief in myself.
I really wanted a mentor for guidance and partnership, and to help grow the business. I wanted someone who had been there and made the mistakes. Waitrose were coming on board and Boots had expressed an interest. I thought: “This could be global”. But I like a challenge, and felt if I had Peter Jones on board, then if Sainsbury’s showed interest I would have thought it was due to him. It wouldn’t be as rewarding.

Chika told FEMAIL: 'These are the foods of my childhood in Nigeria and I wanted people in the UK to experience the same great flavours that I got to enjoy growing up.' She started by rustling up snacks in her kitchen and testing them on friends and family. She then went about refining the flavours based on feedback. The products were already stocked in 150 outlets in the UK in just a year. 'I know what I'm doing. I'm already doing it - but I can do it better. And with your partnership, Chika's can become an even more successfull business and brand.'