Foods by Far: How a picky eater built a thriving food business

Toluwani Omotesho


What’s your favourite food? For Oyebiyi Oluwanifemi, the answer to this question will always be rice. Any time, any day.

The COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 changed many people’s lives, and Oyebiyi’s is no different; she saw people’s priorities change from hustling to make ends meet, to trying to stay alive — including videos of people making traditional medicines to boost their immune systems against the coronavirus. She learnt that certain foods could boost the immune system rather than relying on excessive medication, as the virus had no cure.

Her research was especially important to her as someone living with immunodeficiency caused by selective eating habits, which led her to discover Ofada rice. She found that Ofada rice’s low glycemic index, higher fibre content and healthier fats made it a healthier choice  compared to the common white rice.

However, Oyebiyi didn’t stop at just reading. Immediately after the lockdown was eased, she travelled down to Abeokuta from Lagos to speak with Ofada farmers and study their farmlands, planting, and processing methods, and learning about the different types of Ofada rice, the filtering processes, and milling techniques. One year later, in February 2021, Foods by Far was born.

Foods by Far is a food processing and packaging company promoting dietary knowledge in Nigerian households. “We educate customers on the importance of healthy eating and the nutritious benefits of eating homegrown Ofada rice alongside complementary options like Ofada oil, pepper blend, and locust beans,” Oyebiyi says. We partner with local rice farmers to get quality Ofada rice free from stones or impurities using destoners, which addresses a major reason why people prefer white rice”.

In addition to providing quality rice, Foods by Far also offers a sourcing service to help customers get high-quality food products that are currently not part of their regular product line. She explains, “We are ultimately committed to health first, quality, convenience, and sustainability as we use eco-friendly packaging to reduce our environmental impact. We want to help as many households as possible to live truly healthy”.

Her journey hasn’t been without challenges

The country’s poor infrastructure has been a significant source of frustration for Oyebiyi. The bad roads between Abeokuta and Lagos make it difficult to transport products and is a significant reason why Ofada rice is pricey today.

She also bemoans the lack of government support for farmers: “Many farmers are looking for government aid to make the farming process easier, which would at least reduce the cost of Ofada rice, but there has been no support so far. Despite the health benefits, its high price makes many people choose white rice. This shouldn’t be the case — Ofada rice should be accessible to everyone, not just the rich or elites”.

Another challenge she has faced is getting funds to finance her business as a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owner. She believes many organisations and the government prefer investing in already-established companies with lower risks.

Regardless, Oyebiyi and Foods by Far have had their fair share of wins.

In 2023, Foods by Far won a grant of ₦200,000 from the AXA Mansard Showcase SME initiative and ₦100,000 from the Intrigue Women, a platform supporting women entrepreneurs.

However, Oyebiyi emphasises the importance of non-monetary opportunities in her journey as an entrepreneur. In December 2023, she was awarded a mini-MBA after a seven-week program from the Access Bank Womenpreneur Pitch-a-ton and International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Oyebiyi also has a soft skills certificate from Honoris 21st Academy. Speaking on her experience with incubators, she advises entrepreneurs to apply for incubation and accelerator programs even when there’s no money involved because, “The knowledge you get will eventually bring you profit”.

As CEO of Foods by Far, Oyebiyi further points out that these programs are opportunities for collaboration and networking with other women entrepreneurs within and outside her industry. She firmly believes that networking can provide a good support network for entrepreneurs as running a business can be a lonely journey, but with a sound support system, business owners can learn from fellow entrepreneurs, their experiences, mistakes, wins, etc., and exchange ideas that can lead to business growth and success.

As for the future, Ms. Oluwanifemi plans to transform Foods by Far into a tech-enabled business that offers customers easy access to quality and affordable foodstuff. Her long term vision includes creating an app to connect customers with food vendors and providing market guides to help customers find the best food items during their market runs.

By cutting out the middlemen and working directly with trusted vendors, Oluwanifemi aims to keep prices affordable and ensure that customers get high quality products, whether they buy in bulk or small quantities

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