By Christian Agadibe,
RETIRED but not tired CEO of New Tech Tapes and Packaging, Awa Nuru, was former General Manager/Central Finance Officer at Eko Distribution of Power Holding Company before she retired after sixteen years of active service. Unlike most people who have attained this level but were held back by fear of the unknown, Mrs Nuru thought out of the box and started one of the major cellotape companies to reckon with. In this interview, she says it’s profitable to walk out of your comfort zone as an employee and make it big as an entrepreneur.
How did you start your business?
I have over 25 years work experience in private and public sectors. I have worked in the bank and I have also worked at the Power Holding Company of Nigeria for over sixteen years. I retired over a year ago as the General Manager/ Central Finance Officer of EKO Distribution Company. I have been nursing this idea of doing my own thing and having my own thing and now I am into packaging materials. When we talk of packaging, we talk of cartons and cellotapes. A lot of people think it’s trivial but there is no company in Nigeria that packages anything without cello tape.
What’s the nature of your business?
When you package your products, you must tape it and make sure nobody adulterates your products and that is where branding comes in.
So, I looked at that opportunity with some of my friends, researched it and I decided to incorporate New-Tech Tapes and Packaging
How long have you been in the business?
I have been nursing this idea since 2013, but started operation in 2015. My factory is at Otta and we’re fully operational now. We produce clear tapes as well as branded tapes and we’re the major supplier of tapes to Indomie, Chivita, Delica, Hypo, Niger biscuits and a host of others and we are thriving in the industry.
What’s the major challenge in doing such business in Nigeria?
We are looking at different things, because most of our raw materials are imported and the fluctuating exchange rate is affecting business. Foreign exchange is a big challenge, so we knew this since last September and we decided to do backward integration; that is making some of our inputs ourselves. We are about producing one of our major raw materials.
Most people who have been in the corporate world for a long time always have this fear of the unknown when they want to venture into their own businesses. What’s your advice for them?
Fear of the unknown is a natural thing and change is the only thing that’s constant. It’s good to be in your comfort zone but there are a lot of things out there. I have been in my comfort zone for 25 years, but out there you determine what you earn as an entrepreneur. If you want to make it big, you think out of the box and move in the right direction.
Who are your clients?
My clients include Indomie, Chivita, Power Pasta, Hypo, Niger biscuits etc.
Is your business capital intensive or did you start with a little amount of money?
It’s a bit capital intensive. Some people believe in starting big but I believe in starting small by testing the waters and expanding. I started small but I knew where I was going.
How much did you start with?
I started with a couple of millions because we are regulated as well. You must be on the right page with the authorities for you to start up and then most of our machinery are imported. We train our staff and test them as well. The period of testing also consumes money.
Would you advise someone to venture into this business especially the youths?
Yes, they can venture into this business too, for instance, by starting with recycling waste products. There is no industry that does not generate waste products. As for me, I need somebody to recycle my waste products because currently recycling of waste products is not my core business.
I have been able to make quality tapes that can be sold anywhere in the world. I am proud of the quality, my set up and I’m very proud of the staff that I’m bringing up. I know the market is a bit challenging and some firms still import these tapes. We want a situation where government would encourage them to patronize locally made branded tapes.