Dragons Den winners: The original and the best
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Chika entered the Den in 2015 seeking an investment of £30,000 for a five percent stake in her business Chika’s Foods. All five Dragons made offers but she accepted Peter Jones’s offer of £30,000 in exchange for a 25 percent stake in her West African-inspired snack company. However she ended up changing her mind behind the scenes and going at it alone.
After seven years, it seems that her decision paid off as Chika’s Foods business empire was finally able to receive a whopping £9.8million investment in her most successful 12 months to date.
Explaining her decision to reject Peter’s offer Chika said: “I wanted someone who had been there and made the mistakes.
“Waitrose were coming on board and Boots had expressed an interest. I thought ‘This could be global’.
‘But I like a challenge, and felt if I had Peter Jones on board, then if Sainsbury’s showed interest I would have thought it was due to him.
“It wouldn’t be as rewarding.”
In 2021, Chika received an investment of £9.8million to expand her company.
She explained to This is Money that this is the first time in seven years that she has been able to pay herself salary.
She said: “I’ve started paying myself a salary for the first time since I set it up seven years ago.
“Less than 10 percent of private equity funding goes to female entrepreneurs – and less than one percent goes to women like myself who are from black, Asian and other ethnic minority backgrounds.
“So it’s a huge deal to secure such a significant investment. Plus, around 70 percent of my workforce in Nigeria are female, so more women in Nigeria will have jobs as a result of the investment.”
Russell launched her firm, Chika’s, in 2014, first stocking products at the Hotel Café Royal in Central London.
Her products – which include hand cooked plantain, chickpea crisps and nuts – are inspired by the flavours she experienced as a child.
She splits her time between London and a village in Anambra State, southern Nigeria.
The entrepreneur owns six properties in the UK.
She continued: “I bought a three-bedroom house in Norbury for £249,000, a two-bed flat in Clapham for £229,000 and a four-bed house in Mitcham for £349,000.
“I still own them and benefited from the rental income they generated when I wasn’t taking a salary from my business.
“I also own three other properties with my husband, one of which is our home. It’s an eight-bedroom house in London’s Notting Hill that we bought six years ago and moved into three years ago after renovating it.
“It cost several million pounds and we bought it outright, after selling another property we owned.
“I think it’s risen in value by a couple of million pounds since we bought it.”
Chika says one of the secrets to her success is having “always lived within my means” meaning she has never struggled to make ends meet.
Dragons’ Den airs Thursday’s at 8pm on BBC One.
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