'I want to untie women's hands': Sauce entrepreneur to help other women find business success

200922 Womenspire Maggie

Entrepreneur and internationally acclaimed cookbook writer Maggie Oganbanwo wants to help other women find success after she achieved her own lifelong ambition.

Maggie says she wants to use her own achievements to help "untie women’s hands."

She said: "I think that a lot of women have their hands tied because of either their environment, culture or even their own mind-sets and I want my life, my business, whatever I do to showcase what is possible for your hands to be untied.

"For you to untie yourself from those things that hold you back.”

Even as a child Maggie had an eye for business.

As a 6 year old school pupil in Lagos, Nigeria she began selling her Grandmother’s ‘puff puff’.

The popular Nigerian sweet treat was a hit with her fellow classmates but unfortunately her business soon got closed down when her parents were called into school. 

Maggie wants to help other women launch their own businesses.

Undeterred, but decades later, Maggie has continued to combine her heritage with her love of food to establish a successful business which she runs from the village of Penygroes in Caernarfon, North Wales. 

Maggie’s range of sauces and spice mixes promise "An African Twist for your Everyday Dish."

They're sold in delis and farm shops up and down the country and recently she has started taking orders from as far afield as the USA.

Maggie is now a finalist in the 'Entrepreneur' category of this year's Womenspire Awards, run by gender equality charity Chwarae Teg, which celebrates inspiring women in Wales.

The passion Maggie has for her food as well as for helping others shines through when you speak to her but her successful business in fact comes off the back of a dark time in her life. 

After experiencing a personal tragedy she struggled with depression and decided to close down the cafe she had been running since moving to North Wales 15 years ago. 

Instead she began to focus on doing pop-up African inspired restaurants. It was during this time that she made a ‘luminous orange sauce’ which became the springboard for her now successful business. 

“One of these days I made this sauce and I tasted it and I thought ‘this is so good’.

"If you taste it you’ll know, it takes you up to a crescendo of heat and you think I won’t survive and then it just brings you down really gently and it just stays warm in there and then you think I need my next taste of it and that is where the business began and we have developed lots of different sauces since then and spice mixtures all based around African cuisine.”

Maggie describes the last decade and a half as a ‘journey’. The memory of her 6 year old self stays with her and she urges others to support signs of ‘entrepreneurial spirit’. 

“If you see someone with a passion instead of just shutting it down based on rules just build on what you see. Ok, the rules said I shouldn’t have been selling in school but someone should have recognised the entrepreneurial spirit because it took me quite a number of years to come out again and develop it and develop the business.”

The winners of this year's Womenspire Awards will be revealed in a ceremony on Thursday 29th September.