Tracy Batta was determined to live her life like a healthy fruit basket in 2014.
She would blend fruits together into a smoothie detox and would package some to carry to work. However, the process was often tedious and time-consuming, let alone a bit messy, so she and her business partner (Omowunmi Akande) decided to start a smoothie delivery company.
They raised $10,000 from their savings, built a website, bought a motorcycle for deliveries and set out to start the Smoothie Express, but it wasn’t a smooth start to the business as the rented spare room from a guest house turned out to be a bad deal.
We agreed to pay [the owner] 50% of our profit every month. This deal later became crippling for the business as we had to pay out almost a million naira in some months, this forced them to find other means.
In 2016, they moved into their own kitchen and the business began to grow as the two researched and carefully-curated their own recipes.
The next year, they opened their first brick-and-mortar store in the heart of Victoria Island and were now able to service walk-in clients.
“People usually do not trust that women are able to handle businesses for a long period as it is believed that we would get married someday, start having babies and ‘abandon’ the business. This however never stopped us as we worked hard to make our business cash-flow positive.”
The company now has grown to launch three modern stores with headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria.
They currently employ a team of 35 while the produce comes from over 15 farms across the country.
Last year, they received a loan from a women empowerment program sponsored by Access Bank.
Tracy Batta is also a contributor to The Guardian Nigeria.
She plans to grow Smoothie Express to become an international brand with locations across Africa by 2025.