I ‘d rather fry and sell ‘akara’ than beg–Widow

Yes, the times are hard, but a single mother of two, Aisha Yakubu, found solace in selling bean cake, popularly called “akara”, rather than resort to begging in the city of Abuja, she confides in ADEOLA TUKURU
Aisha, 34, a native of Kogi State came to the city of Abuja in 2013, with nothing and nobody to cater for her and two children, but luck smiled on her when she met one of her friend who lent her N3,000 to start frying bean cake to earn a living for herself.

In the beginning
While recounting to Business Starter recently her experience she explained that rather than resort to begging for alms, as it is common with women in some parts of the country, she now makes an average of N3,000 daily from selling akara and pap, known as “koko”, to make ends meet.
According to her, she did not require intervention funds from the government or access to micro-finance funds for her efforts and determination to succeed.
The hard working woman, who resides in Maraba, Nassarawa State explained that she started the business about 5 years ago after she left her marriage due to domestic violence.
She said that although she was left with no one to help her and her kids, she disliked the idea of begging and decided to start the bean cake business.
Aisha while speaking in pigin English explained that she started with as little as N3000, and gradually expanded the business by adding sweet potato and now I make an average of NAccordingly, over N100,000 monthly.
In her words “You believe that I have been able to pay my two children’s school fees, buy their books,theor welfare and also send money to my younger brother and Mother in the village”
“I also do daily contribution to offset my house rent, buy myself dresses and medical bills when the need arises.”
“When I came to Abuja to seek for greener pastures it was very difficult for me to feed myself and my children, I almost started begging but the way I was trained by my mother who also say we should engage in either farming or selling”
“At times, I will look at those young women by the road side begging for alms and wonder if that is what they will do for the rest of their lives ,” she said.

Forging ahead in the midst of stress
According to her, the business is stressful and dangerous because “you have to seat by the fire every day,” It is helping me to pay the bills, take care of my children as nobody is willing to help me.
“So many people at one time or the other have said or done things to make me feel like I am not worthy.
“Some men will even come and woe me to leave the business that they will pay me more if I spend the night with them.
“They have mostly done it indirectly, some will meet me directly and tease me but I am not really bother about what people say or do .
“What I do puts food on the table for me and my family particularly my children and I am satisfied with it.
“Another challenge is that I have to wake up as early as 4a.m to prepare the beans that I use for my akara even during the raining season.
“I would then wash and to it for grinding because am yet to gather money to buy a grinding machine on my own but I hope before the year runs out,” he said.
When Business Starter visited the place where Aisha does her business it was filled with customers, passers-by, residents of the area, and others who troop in and out as they find her ‘akara’ satisfying.

The clarion call
Aisha called on all women to make necessary effort to be self-reliant rather than going around their neighbourhood begging for alms.
“Whether a widow or housewife, you can start a business, no matter how small, so as to have financial freedom,” she said.
She decried the practice where able-bodied women took to begging for as a means of survival, adding that Islam does not encourage the attitude.

Starting an Akara snack business
Bean cake is a local delicacy in Nigeria and some West African countries. The business is profitable and the snack is enjoyed by both young and old.
The major ingredient is beans and a few ingredients such as onions, pepper, salt, groundnut oil and spices. Akara sellers are usually low income earners or small scale entrepreneurs with limited startup capital.

Learn how to make bean cake
Before you launch the enterprise learn how to make bean cake. Akara is very easy to make, however, you need to develop a cost effective and profitable recipe.
Learn how to make the delicious snack from books, online resources or a family member. The ingredients used in making the snack are basic however the mixture is slightly different and unique to the seller.

How to make Akara- Bean cake
To make Akara you have to purchase brown beans. It is important to purchase the beans in bulk for higher profit taking.
You can start with a bag of beans which can last a month or more depending on your customers and sales.
Once you have your major ingredient (beans) buy a 25 liter gallon of groundnut oil. Other ingredients you need are onions, pepper, salt and spicing. To make the Akara you can measure about ¼ paint bucket of beans.
You can start with a smaller quantity because once the mixture is made it depreciates quickly and spoils in a couple of hours. The beans are then washed in water to remove the outer covering.
Once this is done soak in water to soften the bean in preparation for grinding. After a while remove the water grind the beans and a little onion till you have a slightly smooth paste.
You can add small slices of onion to the paste including little pepper, curry and salt. Mix the bean paste thoroughly to integrate the ingredients.
Place your oil in a large frying bowl and apply heat. Once your oil is reasonably hot scoop small portions of the bean paste and fry in the oil.
Make sure your Akara is properly cooked by regulating the flame to prevent burning or over cooking. The consistency and look of the final product should be light brown.

Equipment Used in Making ‘Akara’
The equipment used in making bean cake is simple and relatively easy to purchase. Buy a large bowl for frying including wood, charcoal and cooker.
There are many fabricated iron cookers specifically made for outdoor cooking. You also need charcoal, wood and accelerant such as kerosene to light the cooker.
Other equipment is long frying spoon, glass or plastic display case for the bean cake and plastic container for the raw bean paste. You need a small measuring spoon to scope the paste into the hot oil.
Most sellers can’t afford a grinding machine and patronize local grinders. However if you have money you should invest in a grinding machine. You would need a freezer or refrigerator to keep the remaining paste to prevent loss in revenue.

Equipment List
Glass Display Case
Large frying pan
Long aluminum spoon
Fabricated cooker
Dry fire wood
Freezer or Refrigerator
Plastic bucket
Nylon or Newspaper to package the product.

The Location
The most ideal location is in a public place with lots of human and vehicular traffic. You don’t need lots of space to display your product and fry the bean cake.
Many Akara sellers don’t have shops and make do with a table and cooker. To maximize profit Akara sellers include a few items to the menu.
They sell pap paste (ogi), bread and even garri. Bean cake is usually consumed with bread, pap or cereal.

Funding the ‘Akara’ business
Funding is relatively easy because you need very small funds to start the enterprise. You need funds to purchase a locally fabricated cooker, large frying bowl, plastic bucket and show glass.
Purchase only the amount of beans you can afford until you have a steady customer base. Try target savings or get small loans from cooperatives in your area.
Try micro-finance banks or small trade banks in your locality. You can borrow from friends and family to raise funds.

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