Onyekwere precious Ijeoma hails from Ogwuaga Abba town in Nwangele LGA of Imo state. She is the CEO of Hariz fruities, a company that specializes in making natural fruit juice, Smoothie, meals, chops, healthy soups, event decoration and management. Their products are void of preservatives and additives that are harmful to the body. She also run an NGO known as Raising A Generation of ESTHERS’and Joseph’s (RAGEJ INTL) where she helps people correct their adulterated mindsets towards issues of life and help them make the most out of their sad experiences. She is a graduate of Theatre Arts from Imo state University, a certified life coach and caterer.
Her story of rubies started when she defied all odds to attain a degree at the age of 17 against the usual discrimination against women being trained to higher institution level.
Furthermore, she broke boundaries again in 2016 when she officially kicked off her Smoothie business in Ajegunle Olodi-Apapa Lagos after the loss of a relationship that ended as though it never existed.
One of her life mantra is: If your mind could conceive it, you have the ability to achieve it. She shares her inspiring story with me in this interview.
My childhood was a mixture of fun, love, discipline and awe. As a first daughter and a first child, I got all the love and attention i needed but when I siblings started coming, I started getting responsibilities to assist in taking care of them. Being accountable for seven siblings built in me the capacity to nurture, grow, tender, be patient and love wholly. My parents were strict disciplinarian and devoted Christians; it played a great role in the woman I am becoming because their stirct orders kept me in check and biblical principles stood as a yardstick for every decision i try to make.
The passion for a change of narrative.
I was born in Ajegunle-Olodi-Apapa area of Lagos State. Growing up, whenever I visit a different location and I’m asked where I live, I get a rude reaction at the mention of my vicinity. This was because of the high rate of crime, prostitution, gambling, illiteracy, gangsterism, poverty, teenage pregnancy (to mention but a few) that was prevalent at the time. In the words of Bishop T.D Jakes ” we are the change we’ve been waiting for, no one is coming”. So, I decided that I was going to make myself a good representative of Ajegunle to the world instead of talking against my vicinity.
Obtaining my degree at 17
My decision to pursue a degree into the higher institution wasn’t a bed of roses at all.
Apart from the fact that there was no money at the time, people tried talking my parents out of their decision to support me. Someone even went ahead to ask my mum a question in my dialect saying
“Ha na Azú ñwànyi na úlóàkwúkwó Mara ha dum? Meaning Is it relevant to see a girl-child through the higher institution? Yet, my parents stood by me. Against all odds, they gave me all the support I needed and I owe them my best forever.
Being an Entrepreneur and humanitarian, how do you balance both?
It’s not been easy but it’s worth it. Business and humanitarian services both need time and attention.
At a point, I had to put one on a pause for the other to take shape. But i’m glad they are thriving together now. Collaborating with other NGO’s have also made the work seamless and produce better results too.
My fruit business
My love for nature inspired my fruit business also known as Hariz fruities. Starting up such a venture in my environment seemed strange at the time. I started out with making my healthy smoothie and natural fresh juice in my room. After which I got a space beside a sharwama spot and then proceeded to getting a spot in a hotel.Early this year, we moved to an independent location at Hariz fruities offers people the choice of consuming not just drinks but healthy smoothie and natural fresh juice without preservatives and addictives that are harmful to the body. We also make healthy meals, soups,snacks, fruit parfait, event planning and management.
Is there enough media content out there to help women grow?
Well, in my opinion, creativity is the first content. There can never be enough content to help women grow but women can create tons of content by deciding not to be relegated to the back seat of life, by living turning their lemons (sad experiences) into lemonades (good deals). If we keep doing this, we would always Grace the front rows of events, and cover pages of magazines, as we run the world(In Beyonce’s voice).
The first challenge we experience in this field of work is insufficient electricity. Due to the fact that our products do not have artificial contents and are naturally made, they are made on request and chilled before consumption but with the instable nature of electricity, we spend so much on artificial lightnings.
Secondly, high cost of transporting raw material. Fruits, nuts, vegetables, are somewhat expensive here in Lagos and this is because of the cost of moving them from the farms where they’re planted to the market where they would be sold.
The third challenge is sufficient funds. Small and medium Enterprise really need financial investment in order for them to give their best to the development of their country’s economy.
Yes, I have thought about it. I’m first a human and secondly a woman filled with strength and weakness too. I could remember vividly sometime in 2017 when I had concluded that I was going to end my business because things were not working out as I expected but with the advice of my mentor, I stood through it all and I’m glad it’s paying off now.
Being a woman of rubies
I am strong, determined, a super woman, a pace-setter, dedicated to giving back to humanity and committed to dying empty.
Never allow someone’s opinion about you define your life’s outcome. Even when you fall, get up because no one celebrates a failure. If your mind could conceive it, you have the ability to make it happen. You are a woman of rubies, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.