Sowing Success: Unveiling the Agricultural Vision of Mariam Adebayo

25under25 Award Winner 2023 Spotlight for International Women's Day 2024

Mariam Adebayo, an advocate for SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being), combines her two years of legal experience with a passion for social impact and food processing. Dedicated to providing education opportunities for disadvantaged children, she founded Madeochills, a natural sweetener business combating diabetes and hypertension. Mariam, a law graduate licensed in Nigeria, volunteered with NGOs like Steering for Greatness Foundation and completed the Orange Corner Incubation program. Ambitious in the agricultural sector, she balances her career pursuits with a happy marriage.

Our short interview with Mariam

  • What inspired you to become an agricpreneur, and how do your roots and background contribute to your passion for agriculture and entrepreneurship?

I’ve always been a staunch advocate for healthy living, even during my university days when I made it a point to consume a fruit daily to prioritize my well-being amidst academic demands. However, it was a personal family experience that truly propelled me into the agricultural sector. Witnessing my close relatives battle with Type II diabetes and the looming threat of a stroke ignited a deep-seated passion within me to create healthier alternatives to sugar and mitigate similar health struggles for others.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine Home, diabetes, often stemming from high blood sugar due to excessive sugar consumption, is a prevalent concern. This insight inspired the establishment of Madeochills, dedicated to crafting nutritious alternatives using date fruits, such as date syrups, spreads, chocolates, and more.
Through Madeochills, I’ve impacted over 5,000 individuals, including pregnant mothers and children, while concurrently addressing unemployment in local communities by providing job opportunities, particularly for women. Beyond sustenance, I view agriculture as a catalyst for inclusive community engagement.
My overarching goal is to champion agriculture and healthy living across Africa, advocating for the promotion of natural produce and fostering widespread awareness of food’s impact on our health and the environment. I am unwaveringly committed to driving positive change in this critical arena.

  • Can you share a pivotal moment or experience that led you to choose agriculture as the focus of your entrepreneurial journey?

Certainly, the pivotal moment that led me to choose agriculture as the focus of my entrepreneurial journey as the CEO of a natural sweetener brand was witnessing my close relative struggle with Type II diabetes. It was a deeply personal experience that ignited a passion within me to find healthier alternatives to sugar and prevent others from enduring similar health challenges.
Seeing my relative battle with diabetes and the potential complications it posed, including the risk of stroke, made me realize the critical importance of nutrition in maintaining overall health. I began researching extensively and discovered the remarkable benefits of natural sweeteners, particularly date fruits, in managing blood sugar levels and promoting overall well-being.
This profound experience catalyzed me to embark on a mission to create nutritious alternatives to sugar and contribute positively to people’s health. I founded my company, focusing on producing date syrup and other date-based products, to provide individuals with healthier options that not only taste delicious but also support their journey toward better health.
Through this entrepreneurial journey, I am not only fulfilling a personal passion but also making a meaningful impact on the lives of others by offering them healthier alternatives to traditional sweeteners. This pivotal moment continues to drive me forward in my commitment to promoting health and wellness through agriculture and natural products.

  • Agriculture is evolving, and sustainable practices are crucial. How does your agricpreneurship venture incorporate innovative and sustainable agricultural practices?

At Madeochills, we recognize the importance of innovative and sustainable agricultural practices in ensuring the long-term viability of our entrepreneurship venture. We are committed to implementing various strategies to minimize environmental impact, promote resource efficiency, and support the well-being of local communities. First, we implement waste management practices such as composting some organic waste and recycling agricultural by-products. This allows us to minimize waste generation, promote circular economy principles, and enhance soil fertility through organic enrichment. We continuously innovate our product offerings to align with sustainable consumer preferences. This includes developing packaging solutions that prioritize recyclability and biodegradability, as well as introducing new products made from locally sourced ingredients.

25under25 Award Winner 2023 Spotlight for International Women's Day 2024
  • Agriculture has traditionally been male-dominated. How do you actively support and empower women within the agricultural sector, both in your ventures and within the broader farming community?

In addition to our internal staffing composition, which prioritizes gender diversity, we actively support and empower women within the agricultural sector through various initiatives within our ventures.
We promote gender-responsive policies and practices within our ventures, ensuring that women have equal opportunities for advancement and participation. This includes implementing policies that support work-life balance, flexible working arrangements, and equal pay for equal work.
We actively engage with local communities to raise awareness about the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment in agriculture. Through advocacy campaigns, community outreach initiatives, and partnerships with local organizations, we work to challenge gender stereotypes and promote inclusivity in the agricultural community.
I will advise that Female entrepreneurs often seek out and build networks of other women in agriculture, creating a supportive community where they can share experiences, advice, and resources.
Female entrepreneurs should use their platforms to raise awareness about the contributions of women and advocate for policies and initiatives that promote equal opportunities for women in agriculture.
Women in agriculture should embrace technology and innovation to streamline processes, increase productivity, and access markets, enabling them to compete more effectively in male-dominated industries.
Female entrepreneurs should seek experienced mentors to provide guidance, and mentorship that will empower them to become the next generation of female leaders in the industry.
Lastly, female entrepreneurs should demonstrate persistence, resilience, and determination, refusing to be deterred by challenges and persevering in pursuit of their goals and aspirations.

  • Are there initiatives or programs aimed at encouraging more women to pursue careers in agriculture or agricpreneurship?

Programs like the Leading African Women in Food Fellowship (LAWFF) and initiatives supported by Bayer are instrumental in empowering women in agriculture and agribusiness. These programs offer tailored training, mentorship, and resources to equip women with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in the agricultural sector. By focusing on women-specific needs and challenges, these initiatives help bridge the gender gap in agriculture and unlock the full potential of female agripreneurs. Through such programs, women gain access to networks, funding opportunities, and capacity-building activities that enable them to make meaningful contributions to agricultural development and food security in Africa and beyond.

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