#LadyBoss Interview: “You must be intentional about running your life and building transferable skills,” Kelechi Abiri, Founder, Reposebay Recruitment Agency.

Image credit: Kelechi Abiri

Kelechi Hadassah Abiri studied European Languages (French) at the University of Lagos. She also went on to study Digital Marketing at Brandschool in Ghana and studied Human Resources specializing in Recruitment. 

She is currently the Chief Executive Officer and Head Recruiter at Reposebay Recruitment Agency, a boutique staffing and human resource consulting firm serving domestic (homes) and SMEs.  She started out her career in administration and marketing –  working in sectors such as education, oil and gas, e-commerce and tourism. 

Kelechi founded Reposebay to connect employers to the talent they need. She believes that anybody can be a potential employer of labour and we can all contribute to improving unemployment in our own way. With this focus in mind, the Reposebay website allows candidates to pitch their talent via a video resume feature in order for employers to decide quickly on candidates they are willing to hire. 

She believes recruitment is exciting because the results directly affect the bottom line of a business and what makes companies are its people. When she is not recruiting, she is helping clients write and present information properly on their CVs, professional profiles and company profiles. 

Kelechi loves to write – she volunteers at the Elevation Church (Island) and leads the Publications unit of the church, a team that writes soul-enriching articles for the church’s digital and traditional platforms. She also contributes to the community by helping and learning about special need children. She is passionate about decent work and economic growth in accordance with one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

In this interview with Leading Ladies Africa, Kelechi shares the inspiration behind becoming an entrepreneur, how Reposebay Recruitment agency is changing the narrative for job seekers and recruiters in Nigeria and her top 3 resources for female entrepreneurs. Lean in!

What does Entrepreneurship mean to you?

I believe an entrepreneur is a visionary and risk-taker who runs with an idea. The intention of building a business empire and profiting, usually through some novel ways is top-most on his mind. Entrepreneurs use creative ideas to disrupt markets and take over industries.

In this era of personal brands, entrepreneurship is about taking risks. Entrepreneurship is not the same thing as venturing. Venturing is investing in an idea with only profit as the goal. Entrepreneurs go deeper, they are solution providers, innovators, investors with a ‘’value-adding’’ mindset. They are not only about earning or making money. You can’t earn without giving value because money flows in the direction of value. 

Furthermore, we must all manage our lives and careers like a business. When I advise fresh graduates, I say ‘’plan your career path, like you are running a business’’. I see paid employment as a type of ‘’business’’. I believe if everyone sees paid employment as a form of entrepreneurship, we will have better employees. We will have employees that possess an ownership mindset. We will have fewer people with the ‘’I can’t kill myself’’ (meaning: I can do the barest minimum for company X and still get paid) mindset as some employees have.

Employees that take charge at the workplace often discover new things about themselves which can often lead to the birth of a side hustle that may eventually lead to self-employment. When I was working for a travel and tourism startup, I took charge at some point of my company’s presentations and proposals; and by doing so, I discovered my love for writing. As an entrepreneur today, I get paid for writing professional profiles, CVs and company profiles. 

Again, the principles you build from life shapes you as an entrepreneur. It’s only from taking ownership as an employee will you be able to take charge as a business owner, you don’t suddenly become a changed person when you become an entrepreneur. You must be intentional about running your life and building transferable skills. 

Entrepreneurship for me is also about self-leadership. Before you can lead a team, you must lead yourself effectively. Self-leadership is important. One must first run the business of their life effectively to be able to run a company.

Image credit: Kelechi Abiri

Tell us the inspiration behind establishing Reposebay Recruitment Agency.

I caught myself always knowing who needs a job or who needs staff. In 2012, even if I had a job I would find myself always checking job websites just so I could send the links to my friends and family. I always dreamt of owning a job website and software for connecting job-seekers with employers.

The difference is that I wanted mine to also feature candidates as well. I believed candidates should also get the chance to “advertise themselves’’. I also wanted companies to be able to hire via the website through Reposebay.com. So I worked with a software developer to build my own job website in 2017 and I started recruiting.

I also started providing career counselling for fresh graduates, writing professional profiles and resumes through the Reposebay brand. I also discovered that some job-seekers were unemployable due to how they presented information on their resumes, while some were simply unable to answer interview questions intelligently. So counselling fresh graduates and preparing them for interviews became necessary.

As one who is building a sustainable business in recruitment, I must use my company to address the problem of underemployment. A large number of people are underemployed. You hear graduates ‘’just give me any job’’. The root cause of underemployment is unemployment and when we place people in the right roles with the right qualifications we are providing solutions to both unemployment and underemployment.

What “Oh, Shit!” moments have you had since establishing your business and how have these mistakes shaped you to become better?

My oh, shit’’ moment has to be when I had a job to recruit for a new beach resort at Ibeju Lekki. After doing personal interviews for my candidates and prepping them up for the main job interview with the client, I got to the resort early the following day and met with the client 15 minutes before the appointment time.  I settled in and told my assistant to call all the candidates to find out where they were.

Out of 20 candidates, only 8 showed up. I started to sweat profusely. The excuses given were so lame, I was weak. One said  ‘’Madam, I don’t’ have transport’’. Another one said, “madam, my sister just delivered a baby’’. So this is one nightmare and challenge for recruiters of low-level staffing and trust me a lot of job-seekers do this. To reduce this, we make candidates write a test, make videos and write essays about themselves.

That’s the reason we renovated our website to include video uploads. We are pioneering other solutions to help recruiters with this problem. I believe if a candidate is willing and able to do these things successfully, then he/she is ready for a job.

Image credit: Kelechi Abiri

If you could have a lunch date with one Lady Boss you admire – who would that be and what would you ask her?

Definitely Ibukun Awosika. Now, that is an entrepreneur who disrupted the industry in novel ways. She studied Chemistry and took a pivotal turn to go into furniture making. She made innovative decisions and became so relevant she was made Chairperson of one of the biggest banks in Nigeria.

I also like the way she expresses her faith in God. From her Life Series, I feel like she has got a hang on work-life balance. As a wife, mum of two and business owner, I would like to thrive at all my roles. I am doing reasonably well in balancing my life but I want to learn more on balancing family and building my business to international standards just like she has done with her business for over thirty (30) years. I also love the book The “Girl” Entrepreneur in which she featured lady bosses. It is an inspiring book.

I will ask her how she managed her business when her children were younger. Also, how she also managed to keep her values and principles without compromising in a corrupt clime.

Image credit: Kelechi Abiri

Your top 3 book recommendations for entrepreneurs?

  • Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis
  • Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg
  • Cash Your Passion by Lynda Omerekpe.

 

The Lady Boss Series is a weekly interview series that highlights the achievements and entrepreneurial journeys of African female entrepreneurs. The idea is to showcase the Leading Ladies who are transforming Africa and the African narrative through enterprise and business. 

It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes leadership, inclusion and diversity for women of African descent. 

If you know any kick-ass women of African Descent doing phenomenal things in enterprise, email lead@leadingladiesafrica.org, and she could possibly be featured. 

 

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