The amazing journey of
Princess Adedayo’s business life is like one
entrepreneur’s story from the story books.
She started off without any formal technical or professional training or employment which, usually, is the route many people take into business. All she had was a raw determination to succeed, a can-do spirit, a searching mind, a teachable spirit, the ability to manage money well and honesty of purpose. Other than her mother’s exposure and upbringing, her business life started out helping her late husband, the late Mr. Olabinjo Kalejaiye, to run his expanding pharmacy business, Mercantile Chemists, based in Lawanson and Ikeja. Some forty years ago, Princess Adedayo started a catering business with her sister, Adeyinka Okanlawon, who had studied domestic science and catering. Dayo put her little capital behind the business setting up a restaurant at Ola Ayeni Street, Ikeja in the present day Ikeja Computer Village. The business did not succeed. The neighbourhood, which today is a vibrant business district, was a purely residential area and the clientele for such a business was not there. The struggling sisters moved to Allen Avenue Ikeja, a neighbourhood that was new and fledging, tried their hands on a number of experiments till they settled for distribution of confectionery products to the new neighbourhood and engaging in the importation of all manner of consumer lines.
Gradually, Bakers World was established as a confectionary company specializing in baking of celebration cakes. The company took its neighbourhood by storm. Its reputation spread far and wide all over Lagos and to other parts of Nigeria. The company did not only excel in celebration cakes and other confectionery products, but it also became a major trainer of cake makers. It also stocked all manner of inputs sourced from overseas for the confectionary industry and major suppliers to the industry. Bakers World became the distributors of Wilton Products of Illinois Chicago.
A tireless pursuer of excellence, over many years, Princess travelled all over the world, USA, UK, China and other countries in search of knowledge and exposure. She undertook courses in cake making and other confectionery products and attended exhibitions all over the world. This search for knowledge has been the hallmark of her business. And as she was receiving, she was sharing and passing it on. In consequence, Bakers World, while by no means the oldest confectionery business, became the forerunner in the cake making business in Nigeria from which many drew inspiration, received knowledge and products.
Princess, identifying a gap in the market and on a quest for a new challenge, commenced a meticulous research into the production of inputs for the cake making industry. From a cake maker she began a quest to becoming a maker and supplier of inputs for the cake making industry. Starting out under the name of Gracekal Enterprises, she has transited into GraceCo Industries Ltd. From a humble beginning, the company today is the biggest maker of icing sugar, several sugar products, and tens of products under the Baker’s Choice label. The company also makes, under the name of Princess Snacks, a large variety of snacks like chin chin, cup-cakes, popcorn, and several others on an industrial scale on sale all over Nigeria. Thirdly, GraceCo prides itself as having the vision of putting technology behind the production of Nigerian foods- Ogi, ground rice, beans and plantain flour, pounded yam etc.
The company employs over 400 people, has over 30 products registered with NAFDAC and is an emerging powerhouse of the Nigerian food processing industry. The company now strategically traverses food processing from confectionary to sugar to processing of agricultural crops into industrial products. It is now a well-structured, professionally run company, employing high calibre personnel and a respectable board of directors made of accomplished professionals and successful business people.
An amazon of a woman, this great lover of education, by devotion and commitment, brought up her seven children all of whom trained in the best schools and graduated from Nigerian and foreign universities. Today, all of them are married and are blessed with their own children and are doing well in their chosen careers in Nigeria and abroad.