While many sectors of the economy were devastated by the Coronavirus pandemic, especially during the lockdown in 2020, the catering industry blossomed and became a multibillion-naira sector.
This was the verdict of caterers who gathered recently in Lagos to sensitize young women to join the business instead of waiting for jobs that are scarce to come by.
Industry players said the catering sector is essential and during the lockdown, it was exempted from the suspension of its services because it provided food for the people and in collaboration with the courier service sub-sector, the catering industry saved lives during the pandemic by supplying foods to homes of those in dire need who could not prepare their own foods.
Speaking during a one-day summit tagged ‘Spend the Day with Successful Business Women in Catering and Events,’ organised by Nonos Catering Mentoring Initiative (NCMI) programme, The Managing Director, Nonos Catering and founder NCMI, Abumere Uto, said COVID-19 forced caterers to diversify and change the way they provide services.
Uto acknowledged that events were not being held as they used to, so caterers now provide food to people’s homes.
“There is something we call ‘Food in bowls’ to feed families. Speakers at the summit are talking about how they made so much money from supplying food to people’s homes during the lockdown because food is an essential service. That is way, they are making more profits and they are being empowered.
“Catering and events industry is huge. I am a caterer, so I can only talk about the food industry and I know that everybody eats and people party. We are encouraging more women to become entrepreneurs and go into the food business.
“There are no parties now and we understand that the government is trying to control the spread of COVID-19 but you can supply food to people’s houses, you can cook in the comfort of your homes. We are teaching women to make profit from what they do. If COVID-19 is making people lose their jobs, caterers do not have to lose money or your jobs. We provide a lot of jobs and we want the government to recognise that,” Uto explained.
She hinted that through the mentoring initiative, caterers and event planners collaborate and network with other women who are doing the same things they are doing in order to help them grow their business and give them profitability and feasibility.
Also speaking at the event, Morenike Okupe, (Centre), CEO, Malas Foods reiterated that COVID-19 had altered the way caterers do things but assured that the market was still huge.
“We all have to be COVID-19 compliant. We now take hygiene very seriously and it gives us a better opportunity to satisfy our clients at this time. The industry is large and going by data, we contribute quite a lot. The industry spans across different areas from employing waiters, to ushers, to event coordinators, bouncers amongst others. The industry is wide and the workforce is a lot.
“Cost of things going up eats into your profit, increases overhead and infrastructure but we have to find a way of coping and doing things better, so that we can reduce our overhead,” she said.
The CEO of Malas Foods said that with the advent of social media, so many mentoring talks and experiences people share, everyone is improving themselves in what they hear or what they do and people are getting more confident.