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BusinessDay 09 Apr 2018

Monday

Monday 09 April 2018 38 BUSINESS DAY C002D5556 Start-Up Digest Meet Jumoke Dada, craftsman who makes afro-urban furniture Josephine Okojie Jumoke Dada is the founder and CEO of Taeillo, a start-up brand that produces urban furniture using African inspired pieces. Jumoke was motivated to establish Taeillo in 2016 out of her passion to brand Africa’s culture and identity in appealing modern designs through furniture. “I wanted was to create a great piece because I realised that many of our traditional arts and crafts evolved overtime to include practical and decorative items and that human expressions find their way through various forms of art,” she says. In the light of all these, she has resolved in her heart to brand the African culture and identity and make it appealing to modern Nigerians through design and furniture. The Architecture graduate tells Start-Up-Digest that she started her business with zero capital, a computer and her idea. According to Jumoke, payment from her first contract was used for the purchase of Nneka Abiakam-Madunatu is the founder of NMA Garment Factory, a one-stop shop for made-in-Nigeria clothes. This firm has continued to gain traction for the quality and affordability of its products. Despite being a graduate of Law, her love and passion for designs and creativity inspired her to start the clothing business in 1999. “I always loved creating things, cutting up pieces, sketching and designing. I started doing this mass market strategy when I had my son. I was abroad for six months and I employed people in Yaba and Mushin in Lagos. When I came back, I went to these places and saw a lot of them smoking because there was no job. “So I thought to myself that if I properly engaged the people, they would be engaged. That was when I decided to structure my factory and buy more machines. A factory work is one that you come, work and get paid,” the entrepreneur says. The entrepreneur, who currently has 14 outlets in Lagos and others in Abuja, Awka and Enugu, says she will soon commence operations in Calabar and Ghana. She discloses that her vision is to employ 1,000 Africans both directly and indirectly by 2020. She currently employs 25 workers directly and 55 workers indirectly. “I believe I am going to be in the Dubai Mall. If I am there, I want to make my dresses affordable. Even Jumoke Dada materials needed for the first furniture piece she made. Subsequently, she sold the furniture for N52,000 and made a profit of N12,000 then. After Jumoke’s first furniture piece, she began to get referrals from her initial client, family and friends, which helped her in generating revenue she reinvested into the business. So far, the University of Lagos (Unilag) graduate has raised some money through grants from local and international organisations to further increase her production capacity. The young entrepreneur says she sources all her raw materials used in production locally. Since Jumoke started her business in 2016, it has grown tremendously despite the market being saturated. She explains to us that Taeillo has continued to grow owing to its leverage on technology and consistent investments into research and development. “When we were going into the market, we understood that the furniture market was saturated, but we were still able to grow the business because we leveraged on technology. Technology helped us scale our business model, coupled with the strong investment we put into research and development to continue to produce exciting designs,” she states. Answering questions on the challenges confronting her business, the Architectturned-furniture maker says that her current industry lacks the required skilled professionals that are detailed in craft and designs. This, according to her, remains the major challenge confronting her business. She also notes that the huge infrastructural gap is another challenge facing the business. She wants governments at federal, state and local levels to invest more into human capital development in order to provide industries with the needed skills. Jumoke also urges them to provide an enabling environment for businesses by investing in key infrastructure. Speaking on her business expansion plans, the entrepreneur says she plans to further expand the business and its production capacity while increasing global reach through technology. Similarly, she plans to have a furniture showroom across major African cities and Nigeria. She also wants to have a foundation in a way of giving back to the society by helping the less privileged. Speaking on her advice to other entrepreneurs, Jumoke says, “Love God, be persistent and burn that ship.” Nneka Abiakam-Madunatu: Entrepreneur mass producing made-in-Nigeria clothes IFEOMA OKEKE Nneka Abiakam-Madunatu if you are taking African culture to western world, let it be affordable. If it is affordable, then we can tell our story better,” she states. Speaking on the focus of her business, she says, “NMA Garment Factory is about promoting madein-Nigeria clothes. My goods are made locally and we have a capacity of 2,000 dresses every day. If we expand our capacity, we can actually employ more people and produce more. Our target is to make madein-Nigeria cloths really affordable.” She stresses that when she started making her clothes affordable, everyone started buying from her, including the domestic workers and girls in school. “I have a skirt for as low N1, 000, and I have a target to sell 300 skirts every day,” she says. Abiakam-Madunatu says she currently exports to Ghana and Kenya. “The more expensive things are, the less you sell them. Apart from the fact that it is a business for me, I am also providing employment because I have a factory and people that use different kinds of machines. “The value chain of manufacturing is really long. We have models, accountants, auditors, quality control personnel, industrial ironing and people that do the buttonholes, among others. For my kind of business, the person that cuts is different from the person that joins the materials; another person will label; another will iron and on and on. That is how we can meet the target of 2,000 dresses every day,” she explains. She states that her target is to have a big garment factory and store in Balogun, Lagos, so that when people think of going to China, they will first come to her store and pick what they want. On how she sources raw materials, she says, “I still import, but I want to stop importing if I can make everything in Nigeria, which is what I am working on now. Some of my shoes are still produced in China, but all my garments are now made in Nigeria and people are encouraged by this,” she elucidates. Answering questions on the challenges facing the business, the entrepreneur says that people are yet to believe in Nigerian-made products and there are excessive overhead costs to pay in the country. On her success stories, she says, “When I was selling on Jumia, we were one of the most loved brands there. People started understanding that products of the same quality were cheaper in Nigeria than they were abroad. Times have changed a lot, people are really promoting made in Nigeria. “When people walk into my store, what we have, can meet international standards and they are half the price.” She encourages entrepreneurs across the country to be patient to achieve their dreams, adding that her business did not give her the life she wanted in one year but that she had to grow the business first to make money later.

Monday 09 April 2018 BUSINESS DAY 39 Start-Up Digest ‘My platform is turning teenagers, students into entrepreneurs’ Ayoolauwa Oluwatosin Lovelyn is the executive director of Ornasview Initiative, a firm that provides entrepreneurship training to teenagers through conferences, career talks and workshops. Ayoolauwa holds Bachelor of Science (Bsc) degree in Social Studies from Tai Solarin University of Education, Ogun State, Nigeria. In this interview with BUNMI BAILEY, the young entrepreneur calls on the government and the private sector to encourage more skill acquisition classes, especially for teenagers. Tell me about your business, and what inspired you to set it I up. am the CEO of Ornasview Initiative, which was birthed on March 21, 2017. We train teenagers and students on entrepreneurship to enable them become better people. A lot of teenagers are on the streets doing nothing, so we want to reduce the rate of promiscuous activities and crime. I want to build those teenagers by catching them young. It is our vision to give them a strong foundation. When we started, it was more of career talk, pushing them to do this and that, but on the first year anniversary, which was on the 21st of March 2018, we had our first physical training where we taught teenagers how to cook, make bags and beads, as well as how to perform in drama classes. It was a success and we had testimonies. I remember a particular lady telling me that when she initially wanted to learn confectionary from other places, they told her the amount that she needed to pay was N100, 000. However, what she learnt and gained from our programme was far more than whatever she paid there. I was inspired at the age of 15. At that age, my family started having financial issues, which affected my ability to pay school fees. I used to be among the first set to pay before I started having issues. While others were in school, I would be sitting in the passage and be reading my textbooks. So to keep myself busy when parents went to work in the morning, I would volunteer to teach little children and give them comfort even when I had nothing. From there, I began to teach candidates preparing for for Ayoolauwa Oluwatosin Lovelyn WAEC, SAT, and other exams. I raised money from there. When I entered school, I wanted to do something tangible with my life. So, I started a blog but did not have the means like laptops, and my school then was facing a lot of power supply challenges. I felt that it was high time I discovered myself and do something worthwhile. I went back to a series of trainings and from there; I got a confirmation to pass that training to others. The main reason why I am doing this, and I don’t want to stop, is because I don’t want the teenagers to make the mistakes that we the youths made during our own time, because teen time is the prime time and whatever decision made then is going to determine what tomor- row will be. What was your initial start-up capital? I started with a N100, 000. I was able to raise it from myself, family and friends. And another strategy that I also used to get more funds was that I printed logos on exercise books and charged people who wanted their logos on the book. How has your business grown since it started? It has grown because we have moved from one level to another. If you can move from career talk for SMEs to practising it, then you have moved. We have also moved in terms of funds because in the last programmed, we spent up to N300, 000. This has never happened, so it is moving but not yet to its peak. At the moment, we I felt that it was high time I discovered myself and do something worthwhile. I went back to a series of trainings and from there; I got a confirmation to pass that training to others have not got partners yet. What are your challenges? One of the challenges that I face is that whenever I submit proposals, people think that I am hungry. I remember when I went to a school to submit proposals to let me train their students. The principal of the school just looked at me and started laughing and asked me how much I wanted. I just told her that I wanted nothing, so one of the challenges is submitting proposals especially for schools. Another thing is funding, which is not really easy. They say that people will want to invest in you when they have seen what you have done. That is why right now I am just making sacrifices. I remember when somebody called me and said, ‘don’t worry, time will come that people will want to partner with you’. And another thing is venue. Venue prices are very high, which is why I limit the programmes that I do to schools, because they give me their hall for free. But on the 21st of March 2017, when we had our first major skills acquisition training, I was able to rent canopies and space and to the glory of God, it was classic and people could see the value of what we were doing. How can these challenges be addressed? It is students in government schools that need our services more. When most of them come back from school, I see them hawking on the streets. I remember a particular time I saw a three-year-old child hawking pears on the streets and I was moved. The problem is when you go to schools to submit proposals; they will not answer you because of the high level of bureaucracy. It has to pass from one desk to another and before you know it, the last person that you submitted it to will just drop it without looking into it. So, if they are not even encouraging in submitting proposals, how will they solve the issue? What would you tell your younger self? I will tell my younger self that whatsoever vision he has, the best thing to do is not to sleep on it. Stop giving excuses but to act on it! So I would encourage anyone that would be reading this that no matter the age, meet people that can help you to achieve whatever vision you have. Continued from page 37 How FIIRO directors frustrate... Kachikwu wrote to the minister, but I told them to fix it.” Analysts wonder why a government agency, which should key into government’s ease of doing business efforts, seems to be sabotaging it. “What baffles me is that what you just told me happened when Nigeria was desperately in need of foreign exchange. Kachikwu, being a reputable exporter to the United States, could have exported packaged groundnuts and repatriated dollars into the economy,” an analyst told BusinessDay. Another small-scale food processor complained to BusinessDay that when she applied for a fruit juice processing machine at FIIRO, it took the institute over one month to reply her. “They later could not even produce the machine I requested. They gave me a quotation running into almost N2 million, but when I was ready, they became reluctant. This was an institute claiming to fabricate local machines.” Nigerian government recently instituted reforms to ease the harsh business environment in Nigeria, which are mostly man-made. “For us, it is more important that we are able to create an environment where small businesses and big businesses and everyone is able to do business effectively in this environment and to do so with ease. And I think that that is the target we have set for ourselves; that the time must come, a day must come that anyone who comes into this country will say ‘I was able to do business easily and effectively’ and local businesses can confirm that it’s just a breeze to do business in Nigeria and I think that we can really achieve that. A lot of it has to do with our bureaucracy and the way that the bureaucracy works,” Yemi Osinbajo, vice president, said at the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) Impact Awards ceremony held in Abuja last December. “It is important we change our orientation in this country and begin to support businesses. Businesses are suffering and government agencies do not need to worsen the challenges. Government should be an enabler and this must start with all government agencies and parastals,” Ike Ibeabuchi, chief executive at MD Services Limited, said.

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