Welcome to our brand new series, The Woman Entrepreneur. Every week till the month of October, Naijahousewives.com will be featuring a woman entrepreneur. There are two criteria for this; you must be a woman and you must either be Nigerian or based in Nigeria.
We are debuting this series with an amazing woman. RASHIDAT A. ALIYU NEE ADEKEYE is a woman who decided to take her future into her own hands. Like most of us, she looked around for things she could do to supplement the family income, but then she took it a step further and looked beyond our shores to begin an importing business. The incredible thins is that she began with only 15,000 Naira (that is less than $100USD).
Today, she runs a thriving business and offers opportunities for women around the country to do what she’s done. In an interview with NaijaHousewives, Rashidat shares her story.
Could you tell us about you – who you are, what you do, where you come from and your family.
I am from Offa, Kwara state and I’m an entrepreneur. I have lived most of my life in the northern part of the country. I have a degree in business Administration. I have 3 siblings….a guy and 2 ladies. I am happily married to my best friend; Abdullateef Aliyu and we have a lovely and smart boy named Faizaan.
Your business sounds really interesting. Tell us about it and how you got interested in importation in the first place
After resigning from my job of 3 years due to political crisis and insecurity in the state I was working (Kano) I could not get another job. My family was in Abuja and a transfer was not possible except it was to Lagos. Whilst in Abuja, I tried applying for several jobs, I sent cvs; I received many promises, but eventually nothing came out of it.
“I believe that if your source of income is clean, God will always protect it for you.”
One day, I checked my sent items on my email and discovered I had sent hundreds of copies of my CV and applications out…then I decided it was over! I was not going to sit and wait for some job as none was forth coming, I then decided to tread into an unknown path…this was kind of new to me (I had never really thought about going into business).
Nairaland has always been a website I visit almost 5 times everyday; while there one day, I read a long thread about importation and thought to try it and Alhamdulillah (Thank God) it has been smooth sailing.
There are lots of scams when it comes to businesses like this; how were you able to get into it without being cheated or ripped off?
Um, yes scams are everywhere especially when it comes to online shopping, but one thing I always believe in is that if your source of income is clean, God will always protect it for you. So I prayed and prayed before venturing into it. I started with 15,000 Naira…I told God to protect me from scammers and make the business a success.
I made sure I read at least 85%of the almost 400 paged thread on Nairaland to know what to expect and how to identify good sellers; how to protect and get my money back before I started. I sent email messages to the sellers, then we sealed the business….got my first order, sold within a week and made another order. Since then the sellers and I have become good friends even though some of the sellers don’t have a good command of English, but we were able to understand one another.
So how do you sell to customers?
I am on virtually all social networking sites. I belong to business groups on facebook and watsapp, and I advertise my products on bbm (Blackberry Messenger), watsapp, facebook and others. There has to be some level of trust initially, both parties might have one or two mutual friends and some none. I sell mostly to ladies because I sell mostly ladies and children stuff. For some customers we agree to meet somewhere in town or I deliver to their offices, with that, they discovered I am just like them…a human being trying to make a living and not scam. Word of mouth from previous customers or friends who see and like my products, is also a big source of new business.
Do you sell your products online?
Oh yes I sell most of my products online. I believe it’s risk free and you don’t get to sell on credit, that way, you get your money back fast to make more orders.
Where and how did you meet your husband?
I met my husband through a friend of mine who was also his colleague and a Facebook friend. He saw my picture on this colleague’s Facebook page, and was like ‘Thi girl like yanga o…see as she pose’, that was what he told me much later. He sent me friend request and I wondered who the guy was… he even had his Facebook status set to ‘in a relationship,’ … I could not imagine what I was going to do with such a one. Anyway, I decided to accept him like that, seeing as we had mutual friends.
We got chatting, but he was always busy and keeps typing ‘brb’; I decided to ask my friend who the boring guy was, and she explained that his job was quite demanding, thus the reason for lots of ‘brbs’.
Eventually, he came over to kano and we got formally introduced. He asked me out, actually, he made his intentions clear, but we got to know each other first before taking the next step and Alhamdulillah, we have built our home together…the love has been waxing stronger ever since.
How supportive is he of your business endeavours?
He is very very supportive, he tells everyone about my products, he advises me where need be (he calls it consultancy and says I need to be paying for it). Most of his colleagues are my customers as well. He is one of my best customers and my number one fan.
How do you achieve a work/family balance?
I try as much as I can to balance it….do my house chores, do most of my business online so chatting is one thing I’m always found doing…I try to create time for my family especially in the evenings when he’s back, my son will start school when he’s 2 years old, God willing, so I create reading and playtime for him too.
Now, if one of us is interested in getting into the importation business, how do we get started?
First, the person needs to learn the ropes, which is easy. Read a lot about the necessary stuff on importation which I will be glad to share. A good internet access is also required because there are thousands of sellers with same products but different prices; you will need to search for the best. And then you will need a visa card and a good system or phone.
You are working on a franchising system where other women with little or no capital can actually do business like you do. Please tell us more about that.
Yes, I discovered that many women want to start business but cannot afford the starting capital. So to those that I trust, I offer to give them the products at a reduced price; they sell at an agreed upon price and take their profit and then pay me. Another alternative is that they advertise the products without it being in their possession, negotiate a price with buyer, and when the buyer pays they inform me and I send the product to the buyer. By so doing, ladies are able to get busy, do business even with little or no capital. By the time they save their profits, they will be able to start something of their own. I am hoping I will be able to touch lives by empowering women in my little way.
Do you have anything to say to us?
Yes, keep up the good work, you are educating and touching many lives…but try to create more awareness.
If you would like to get in touch with Rashidat, you can do so through any of these: