Cynthia’s passion as a young girl was to study medicine. Although she passed the entrance exam into her choice medical school, she was forced to attend another university and study another course, zoology. Cynthia did not just study Zoology, she became an enigma. She took courses in fisheries, got interested in mini-livestock farming and multi-level marketing, and ran a successful cake and cookie business..
Cynthia Mosunmola Umoru participated in an internship at ExxonMobil while at university which taught her a great deal about quality, methods, and assessment. Armed with useful life tools and passion, Cynthia launched Honeysuckles PTL Ventures with the primary aim of selling processed food produce in her final year in 2004.
Honeysuckles currently focuses on high-quality food products using modern packaging and fast delivery, and has its own farms and ponds. This success earned Cynthia the Business Owner of the Year award, a category of The Future Awards for recognizing talent in the younger generation. Cynthia however had a problem of poor mentoring when she started out. “It took me five years to gain relevance,” she recalls. “As a young entrepreneur, in my very early days, I lost a lot of the seed capital I got from financial mentors to poor and bad business decisions I made because there was no one to talk to.” There was a void of mentors or credible educational agencies in Lagos to offer valid information to upstart agribusiness entrepreneurs at the time. The few that did, she says, never had actual business operations to offer as references, which to her, gave them less credibility.
Not wanting anyone to suffer poor decision-making like she did, Cynthia has set herself up as a worthy role model. Presently, Cynthia is focusing on ways to get a new generation of young people interested in and successful at modern agriculture. Cynthia makes the rounds of schools in and around Lagos, speaking before hundreds of high school and university students each week telling them how she started what has turned out to be a successful agribusiness and opening their eyes to the great opportunities that abound in farming. She encourages each school she visits to start up or revive their “Young Farmers Club” so as to keep up their newly regenerated enthusiasm for agribusiness.
She then proceeds with projects that are simple and can produce short-term cash rewards. To this end, she sets up the farmers’ clubs to participate in mini-livestock farming and vegetable gardening. This is mainly because raising snails, rabbits, and a number of other animals take up little space but can yield significant revenue quickly. That way, she gets them started on the path to their own successful agribusinesses.
Cynthia then takes enthusiastic students to her farm and combines them with a broader group of aspiring young agribusiness entrepreneurs she mentors.. Those with their own agribusinesses learn modern skills and ideas to incorporate into their endeavor, while the high school and university students begin to realize that modern farming is not back-breaking but full of potentials .
While making money from her business, it is Cynthia’s desire to mentor the younger generations after her to embrace farming and get rid of the poor perception of agriculture. She thinks “farming can be glamorous and cool enough for anyone to trade places with the business executive in the large conglomerate and also the bank’s middle management cadre, which is the initial attraction for most young graduates in Nigeria.