Profile: Rasheed Jaiyeola, Bukka Hut founder, elevating Nigerian cuisine in QSR industry
Whoever said fine dining cannot be associated with Nigerian meals has never walked into a Bukka Hut outlet.
A little over a decade ago, an ambitious man- Rasheed Jaiyeola saw a gap in the QSR industry and started a quality service restaurant, that would offer Nigerian meals with a nice ambience at affordable rates.
Thanks to that move, we have Bukka Hut as a well-known QSR brand today, and you do not need to go to the roadside vendors to get quality Nigerian meals.
Interestingly, this strategic entrepreneur started Bukka Hut as a business on the side, while keeping his full-time job as a Chief Financial Officer and Executive Director at NISL.
It was in 2016, that he finally resigned to fully dig into the food business, which had already earned an enviable market share.
Jaiyeola bagged his first degree in Accounting and Finance from the Obafemi Awolowo University in 2002, after he got certified as a Chartered Accountant in 1999 which was in his first year after gaining admission via direct entry. A Certified Systems Auditor with over 21 years of working experience.
He is an alumnus of the Lagos Business School, Pan-Atlantic University where he took the Owner Manager Program.
He is also a member of the Stanford Seed Transformation Network having completed the Stanford Seed Transformation Program run by the Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 2022.
A promising career in finance
Rasheed Jaiyeola joined the Investment Banking & Trust Company Ltd (IBTC) in September 2002 where he was the Deputy Internal Auditor up till 2005 before he was seconded as part of the pioneer staff to start up IBTC Pension Managers Ltd as the financial controller.
He later became the Head of, the Fund Admin Group of the Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers Ltd., (after IBTC merged with Stanbic Bank Nigeria Limited and Regent Bank Plc).
In 2008, Jaiyeola joined Nigerian International Securities Limited (NISL) as CFO and Executive Director.
He stayed with the NISL till 2016 when he left to fully devote his time to running Bukka Hut, the business he had started in 2011 with 4 other investors (2 of whom are his wife and sister).
The Beginning of Bukka Hut
The idea to start a business came while Rasheed was making his daily commute from Lekki where he lived to Ikoyi where NISL was located.
He would recall how he was always amazed at the number of people going through that route to and from work, and other business engagements.
- “Anytime I am driving to work I usually notice the high influx of people entering the estate and I kept wondering to myself that I could sell to the multitude of people I see daily?” he said in an interview.
Soon enough this desire to start a business morphed into a clearer image when he noticed a gap in the food space.
As one who lived in Lekki Phase 1, and worked in Ikoyi, he noticed that it was not easy to get authentic Nigerian dishes.
- “Anytime I was craving Nigerian meals, I had to go to a guest house where I had to wait for close to two hours for the food to be ready. And most times they are very pricey. Also, some very local roadside people were selling you know Nigerian foods, but then you might worry about their hygiene in food handling” Rasheed recounted.
Having identified the business of choice, it only took five months to get the space, renovate it, hire staff, and put other infrastructure in place.
The choice of the name came while trying out different word combinations with the word Bukka while at a family dinner and his sister-in-law came up with the name, Bukka Hut, and everyone loved it.
Thus, Bukka Hut commenced operations on August 1, 2011, with a flagship outlet on Admiralty Way in Lekki Phase 1.
Bukka Hut gained quick acceptance, and as Rasheed recounted, the business started turning in some profits in its first year of operation.
So far, so good…
Some say that if an accountant starts a business, it is bound to succeed.
Well, Rasheed Jaiyeola is another proof of this. Within twelve years of operation, Bukka Hut has grown impressively and has several other outlets across Lagos state.
Jaiyeola says that as the business grows, they have made mistakes over the years, and learned from them too. With the customer needs in mind, the goal has been to “hire great attitude and teach the skills”.
It is interesting to note that the business has been able to scale this far from retained earnings and loans from financial institutions and private sources thus additional funds haven’t been sourced from new or old investors.
However, this strategy is likely to change as the business seeks to scale faster to other urban cities in the country.
Bukka Hut has moved from the point of delivering food to customers themselves, to a partial outsourcing model that proved to be more efficient and scalable for the business.
They also have a central contact centre that takes orders from customers irrespective of location and then reroutes the order to the outlet closest to the customer.
To standardize quality, the business also operates a central processing facility where they semi-process some of the items and deliver them to the outlets.
Speaking at the 10th anniversary of Bukka Hut, Rasheed said
- “What I am most proud of are the employees. I’ve been able to see people who joined us 10 years ago and have been able to grow in the business.
- That is what gives me great joy and that’s part of our vision and our purpose as well to be able to transform the lives of as many people as possible.”
Considering the impact on the lives of stakeholders, Bukka Hut has a scholarship scheme in place for staff members who are still pursuing their higher education.
There is also a model initiative that helps staff pay for the school fees of their kids with ease. Bukka Hut also hosts an annual Yard Sale event where small business owners get to showcase their products in some of their selected outlets for free.
- “When people think of Bukka hut, I want them to think of a people-centric brand that is empowering Nigerians,” he says, and that is what he is still doing with the brand today.
Franchising is also being considered as Bukka Hut expands even further.
Rasheed has served as an Independent Non-Executive Director on the board of Saro Africa International Limited since 2018 and as a Non-Executive Director of Blackbirch Capital Ltd. He continues to run Bukka Hut as the CEO and is happily married with 4 kids.