By Kate Halim
After staying at home for eight years to raise three children, Mrs. Gladys Okenwa decided in 2016 to start a business. Her friend introduced her to one multi level marketing company operating on Nigeria.
“After my friend explained how the business works and how much money I will be making from selling products and registering down liners, I was happy that at least I would start making good money to take care of myself and my family,” Okenwa said.
But Okenwa revealed that things didn’t go according to plan. She said that after spending over 50, 000 naira buying the products she would sell to her prospective customers, she didn’t get her money back in many months.
She said: “I was stuck with the products for over a year. I moved from one office of my friends and family members to the next, searching for people to buy the products. But they all complained about them being expensive compared to what was sold in the market.”
Okenwa added that she reached out to her friend who introduced her to the business and complained about not making sales. But the friend reportedly said she should try and get someone to register under her so that she could at least be paid a percentage amount of the money her down line would use to purchase their own goods.
According to Okenwa, she struggled for months and later got a young lady who just finished her youth service and needed to do something to keep body and soul together. Okenwa introduced her to the business, and the lady promised to register the following week. But Okenwa noted that the lady did not keep to her promise.
Okenwa told Saturday Sun that she became discouraged and complained to her husband. He told her, she recalled, to give up the goods she purchased which included toiletries, drugs and makeup for family use. He told her to stop wasting her time going up and down begging people to buy the goods.
“I was so discouraged. I didn’t want to give up just like that but after months of selling just four items out of over 20 items I bought, I gave out the rest of the goods and went back home to rest. I didn’t know what to do next because I was feeling so down that I failed at my first attempt to do business,” Okenwa revealed.
The woman told Saturday Sun that a day later, she started making natural fruit juices and smoothies for her husband and children, as, according to her, she wanted them to stop taking soda and fizzy drinks. That was when she got the idea to start selling fruit juices and smoothies.
She said: “It was like a light bulb moment. I came up with this idea to start selling fruit juices and smoothies. I started selling to my neighbors and church members at first and when it became lucrative, I started advertising my juices and smoothies on my Facebook page.”
Okenwa said that it has been two years since she started selling natural fruit juices and smoothies online and at home and things are looking up for her. She added that sometimes, people book her juices and smoothies for birthday parties, weddings, reunions and small office events.
For Okenwa, there’s nothing like being financially independent and having one’s own money to spend whenever one wants to. She said that she’s glad she didn’t give up on her quest to be an entrepreneur.
Even though her current business comes with its own peculiar challenges, Okenwa noted that making money makes up for the challenges. She recently added barbecue chicken, fish and peppered gizzards to her business.
Ogechukwu Uzoagba is another businesswoman. She said she started a side business three years ago to complement her salary at an Abuja firm. She told Saturday Sun that she regrets starting that business because her employees made her go into debt.
According to Uzoagba, she loves trendy clothes, shoes, bags and perfumes so she decided to open a boutique in her area. She noted that the idea was to go to the boutique at the close of work so that she could monitor what was going on there.
“I got a shop close to my street. It was on a major road. I bought goods worth over a million naira and stocked the shop. I employed two sales girls to run the place when I’m at work, and initially things were going fine,” Uzoagba said.
But months later, she said sales started going down and her girls couldn’t give her a reasonable explanation as to why that was happening. What she didn’t know was that they were buying their own clothes and selling in her shop while her own clothes gathered dust on the hangers.
Uzoagba revealed that she borrowed some money from a microfinance bank to boost her business after a year but things didn’t improve. She said she even owed rent at a point. Then one day, she said, she decided to let the girls go and locked up the shop. She said two years of investment went down the drain.
After giving it much thought, Uzoagba said she decided to do something else. She decided to go into another line of business. She rented a small space close to her house and started a car wash business.
She told Saturday Sun that the reason she decided to go into the car wash business was because there was none close to her and she had to drive for over 20 minutes to get to the nearest car wash place in her area.
“I didn’t know why I didn’t think about this the first time I decided to become an entrepreneur. I am making money from the car wash business. I get patronage from different men. They tell me they deliberately patronise me because I am a woman,” Uzoagba said.
Today, the lady said she was now happy with her decision to start all over again. She said that even though being an entrepreneur could be tough, she was happy with the fact that she would soon be opening a second car wash place.
Mrs. Adesola Emmanuel opened a provisions shop some years back so that she could stay closer to home and take care of her children. She stated that at that time, it was the perfect thing to do. Her husband gave her some money and rented a shop for her two streets away from where they live in Lagos.
Emmanuel said she was determined to be successful in her business but her children and husband obviously had other plans for her. She said that her kids were between the ages of two and seven at that time and they contributed to the failure of her business.
“I tell any woman I see these days that if you have kids between the ages of two and seven, don’t open a provisions store. Otherwise, they will finish the provisions and leave the shop empty for you to cry over,” Emmanuel said.
According to her, her children were always taking things from the shop and her husband refused to pay for them. She added that many times, when the family ran out of provisions and toiletries, her husband would tell her to bring from her shop and he would pay her later but he almost never did.
Emmanuel said she and her husband fought a lot because he failed to pay her for the provisions they consumed at home. When it became too much for her to deal with, she said she sold out everything and handed the key of the shop back to her husband to do whatever he wanted with it.
Three years ago, Emmanuel said she paid a fashion designer to teach her how to make trendy clothes. She said she put her best foot forward and learned everything she needed to learn about sewing, beading clothes and making fascinators.
“I love the fact that I do my business from home and on social media and still make money. It hasn’t been all rosy, but I am financially comfortable today compared to where I was in the past, Emmanuel said.
Emmanuel said she has three young ladies who work with her now and she doesn’t pay fashion designers money to make trendy clothes for her and her children anymore. She added that being an entrepreneur teaches one to be very patient, creative and agile.
After completing the mandatory National Youth Service two years ago, Francis Nwachukwu decided to start fish farming pending when he would get a job. He said that was the greatest mistake he made in his young life.
Nwachukwu said that he started fish farming by buying fingerlings but they died in a couple of weeks. He said he shook off the initial discouragement and bought more fingerlings. He fed them for weeks and it looked like things were looking up.
“I was happy that I would make money from the new set of fingerlings but I guess fate had other things in store for me. One day, I woke up to see that some of the fishes were dead,” he recalled.
Nwachukwu said he kept hope alive by focusing on the remaining living fishes. But a few days later, more died. He just fried the remaining fishes and ate them before his money would go down the drain again.
According to Nwachukwu who has three sisters, last year, he started selling hair attachments, wigs, weaves and hair accessories. He said he got a shop in a busy market and has been busy making money ever since.
“When I was complaining about what to do next, my sisters suggested that I start selling hair attachments, wigs and weaves. They patronized me all the time and got their friends to start patronizing me too. I bounced back from my initial business failure,” Nwachukwu added.