If we could use one word to describe the Enterprise and Leadership Program(ELP) 2022, we would say it was Impactful! For the 500 participants who are entrepreneurs in Benin city, Edo state in Nigeria, to the 20 winners of the five million naira seed funding, there was an impact in great measures!
ELP 2022 is a 6-day training program organized in partnership with The Coca-Cola Foundation to enable young female Nigerian entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills to build sustainable businesses. The training program was held in two cohorts with support from technical partners, Edo Jobs, from 24th to the 29th of October and the 7th to the 12th of November.
In this edition of our December Spotlight article, we interviewed six of the grant winners to learn more about the ELP 2022 experience and its impact on their businesses.
1. Jennifer Idogun
Jennifer Idogun is the co-founder of Tamah Enterprises, an Agribusiness company that focuses on value addition and the preservation of fish. Her goal is to make her product the ‘most relished dried fish’ in Nigeria.
As a producer of dried fish in Nigeria, her major challenge has been getting her fish properly dried as she did not own a drier and this has affected the shelf life of her products. She also mentions issues in her company’s distribution channels and customer retention strategies.
Attending ELP 2022 was a game changer for her business, Jennifer states as it opened her eyes to several opportunities she could be taking. She tells us that she realizes innovation is a compulsory part of entrepreneurship and she has to continuously innovate to build a sustainable business. She has also learned about cost and pricing and how to set prices that ensure she meets a reasonable profit margin for her business.
As a winner of the grant, Jennifer says that it will help her procure a drier to improve the quality of her products and make them internationally accepted. She would also improve her packaging and distribution strategy.
2. Obasi Chinyere
Chinyere, a graduate of Urban and Regional Planning from the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, is the founder of Chillista Services, a ready-to-wear fashion brand born out of her creativity and zeal to create high-quality and Nigerian-made fashion wears.
She shares with us the major challenges that she faces running her business mentioning the high cost of getting tailoring equipment and inadequate power supply. She also tells us how bookkeeping has caused her distress as she did not know how to properly keep accounts.
She explains to us that the ELP 2022 program came at the right time for her business as she was about to close it up. She tells us that even though people around her told her she was doing well, she knew a lot was missing in her business and she needed to ‘reinvent herself’. Participating in ELP 2022 opened her eyes to everything she was doing wrong concerning her business finances and how she could do better and track her business to understand where she’s making progress and growing.
‘It was a miracle! Grace found me,’ Chinyere says about winning the grant. She tells us that the grant will be used to secure some highly required equipment and would be used to get some fabric for her ready-to-wear line that would be released in 2023.
3. Esther Eyedoudu
Esther has been an entrepreneur since she was an eight-year-old making and distributing beaded necklaces and bracelets. Her business, ATOP Cosmetics and Spa, started in her living room during the Covid19 lockdown and has grown to a sizable shop with staff.
She cites capital as a significant challenge for her business as it caused a delay in her business taking off. It has also curbed the range of products she could make available to her customers. She also explains that balancing her accounts was difficult and even somewhat scary for her.
As an ELP 2022 participant, she tells us that she had to cancel the plans she had made for the week after attending the first day because she wanted to fully participate in the training program. She says that the training sessions given by ELP trainer, Mr. Ose on Business Finances have completely erased the fear of balancing her monthly accounts and profit and loss statements. She has also drawn out a ‘3-year strategic plan’ for business, reassigning roles to her staff for more effectiveness.
Crying when she was announced as a grant winner, Esther says she was pleasantly surprised as everyone who pitched did it ‘exceptionally well’. She explains that the grant will be used to expand her business in rebranding and getting important spa equipment.
4. Ruth Enyeche
Ruth is the founder of Reyah Apparels, a size-inclusive brand that creates corporate outfits for women.
She tells us that building a brand around her business and creating a proper business structure are some major problems she has faced as a business owner. ‘Because of this, revenue generated has not been encouraging’, she states.
Ruth describes the ELP 2022 training as an amazing experience that she needed for herself and her business. She shares that she now understands the impact of having a structured business model on a business. She has also gotten a well-flushed-out knowledge on bookkeeping and revenue management.
Narrating the moment she was announced as a grant winner, she says she was ‘Awestruck’. She also shares with us that the grant will be used to get industrial sewing and weaving machines that will make work ‘less tedious and more efficient’ for her.