Sweetkiwi offers frozen, whipped Greek yogurts that are delicious and nutrient-dense but calorie-light. Here’s how a startup business credit card helped them achieve some sweet success.
Everyone needs to indulge in a scrumptious tidbit now and again, even if it has no nutritional value. What if the thing you craved was not only good for you, but also low in calories and supported the community? Welcome to Ehime Eigbe’s world. This dairy explorer and entrepreneur (who prefers to go by her first name) is the founder of Sweetkiwi, a woman- and minority-owned small business that creates delicious, nutrient-dense (but calorie-light) treats derived from real ingredients.
The lineup includes frozen, whipped Greek yogurts in flavors like Chocolate Hazelnut, Vanilla Bean and Mango Palm Mint, as well as granolas – which come in classic and keto versions. The company also just launched one packed with protein and probiotics. The best part? Sweetkiwi products are made from locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.
“A health scare led me to a greater understanding of food and nutrition,” says the Nigerian-born entrepreneur. “I have a big sweet tooth and, in changing my diet, I had to give up ice cream, which was really difficult for me to do. I found yogurt as an alternative and this brought about the birth of Sweetkiwi.”
When Ehime had the idea for Sweetkiwi she was living in Texas, but started the brand in Lagos, Nigeria. Then, in 2017, she moved to Washington D.C. and began to launch her products in the area. They are currently being sold at eight stores in and around D.C. and the company exists as a thriving e-commerce business where she ships to locations all over the country.
Here is Ehime’s story, which includes how credit cards helped her pave the path to sweet and healthy success.
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Let’s go back to the beginning – were there any hardships to overcome?
Just figuring out where to start was a hardship! I had to take courses to learn more about how to run a business and to ensure the product was safe.
Funding was also a challenge. Getting the business off the ground was expensive. I had to pay for the production equipment, which was a huge cost. I also had to cover rent when, as a new small business, we were not generating any revenue. All these costs were really surprising to me, but luckily, I kept finding ways to fund the business!
So how have you been financing the business?
Various ways. For example, we got a mini loan from a program in D.C. that is supported by the government and have since paid it back. In October 2020, we received a $10,000 grant from Visa to help support pandemic recovery. Since it’s a grant, we didn’t have to repay it!
We always try to be creative and strategic about how we manage our finances in our quest to grow the business. At the moment, we have not yet taken on any major debt.
See related: How to pay off business debt
And you’ve also been using credit cards for the business too?
Yes, we use a credit card for operations. It’s been very useful for making purchases without putting pressure on our cashflows.
We have a Brex account that comes with a Brex credit card as well as a debit card. The reason we chose it is because someone explained the information about it in a way that made sense to me. Two people are on the card – the operations manager and me. We use it mainly for ingredients and packaging to pay the suppliers.
See related: Guide to Brex: The card for startups
How are you managing this card, and will there be more in the future?
We try to pay in full every 30 days to avoid interest, but if we can’t, we occasionally push it out to 60 days. This card has a lot of rewards (a 50,000-point introductory bonus, and between 1x and 8x the points depending on what it’s used for) and we haven’t used them yet. We’re in the process of building the rewards and hopefully we can claim them for a nice purchase.
But that’s not all in regards to credit cards. We also have an account with Chase and I’m actively looking for a business credit card with them, too. We need to apply soon! Right now, we’re working on building our business credit to support the company’s growth and production.
See related: How to build business credit
What are the plans for the business?
Our plans are to keep growing strategically, get onto more retail shelves and grow our e-commerce platform. We want to keep innovating in the food space and launch more products that help people eat better and healthier without worrying about taste.
We are working on new flavors too, like Birthday Cake and Oreo. Popsicles, too! But right now, I love what we have. My favorite is a tie between Chocolate Hazelnut and the Raspberry Frosé.
Looking back, is there anything you’d like to do over?
There are definitely a few mistakes I wish I hadn’t made, but if I didn’t make them, I wouldn’t have known they were errors. I choose to focus on the lesson and my personal growth as a business owner. Mistakes are just lessons that make us better.
How would you suggest other entrepreneurs use credit cards effectively for their businesses?
Always read the terms and conditions of the credit card and know what you’re getting. You have to use it to build credit for the business. Some people say they don’t want a credit card, but it’s important. Trust me, you will need it. Take time to research what’s available. There are a lot of products out there and they can help you as a small business. Don’t just accept anything that’s offered to you.
Once you have it, understand how you can use it to achieve your goals. And, of course, pay on time and be responsible with credit. Every charge we’ve made, we’ve paid on time.
Any words of wisdom to entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
My advice is to do the research, learn as much as you can, then surround yourself with different communities of people from whom you can learn and also teach. Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted, so you have to keep at it and even when you fall, just get back up and try again.