Wednesday, 13 May 2015

I Stopped Requesting for Money from my Parents at my 3rd Year in the University---Student Entrepreneur

If the maxim which says that ‘what a man can do, a woman can equally do it much better’ is anything to go by, Miss Chinasa Anozie stands out as a mentor to many youths, prospective students and students of tertiary institutions. Right from when she was studying Applied Biochemistry at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, she was an Entrepreneur and producer of cleansing detergents (breach).

In this special interview with our publisher, Okechukwu Onuegbu, the Nsugbe, Anambra East Local Government Area of Anambra state-born young entrepreneur, who rounded-off her six years Continuing Education Programme last year, advices youths to be self-reliant and solution providers. The excerpts:

Who was Chinasa while at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka as a Student?

I currently work in a medical Lab. here in Awka. While studying in UNIZIK, I delved into so many legal businesses which include marketing of products, selling of recharge cards, water, production and supplying of breaches, and so on. But I produce on demands; and in consonance with the quantities my customers indicated interest to purchase.
It means You were a-Student Entrepreneur while schooling. Tells us How you were able to combine your academics with business?

It was God’s doing… entrepreneurship calls for discipline, focus, determination and modesty. I set out my goals, as a result, my academics was never affected. I worked in accordance with my personally designed time table for reading and working. I do my business whenever I’m less busy in the school. My academics is first to other things. I attend lecture when I am ought to be in lecture hall, and go for business when I’m ought to go.

I am always sensitive to my environment to find out what is lacking among them and how to provide them. I search for business opportunities; meet people to find out what they need. Produce and present the samples to them. If accepted and ordered for, I quickly move ahead to present the customer with as many quantities as he/she demanded.

What of during examination, how do you combine the business of producing and supplying when your customers place an order?

What sort of question is that? Don’t you sleep during exams? Don’t you cook during exams? Don’t you eat during exams...? Inasmuch you can enjoy all those things, you will surely create out chance for the business if you’re focused and self-disciplined in your talent or skill. As a determined entrepreneur, when called upon during my examination, I schedule my time to be able to get pass my exams and at the same time, give my customer quality products.  Nobody can read from 8a.m to 8a.m. I have a personal timetable which I work with, and I maintain till date.  

How were you able to raise capital for your business?

 Raising capital is not a problem to me. I ventured into my business with little amounts in my disposal. It was not really much but I was able to purchase the raw materials I needed. To a starter, it must not be about N5000 or above. You can start with any amount. You can tell your customer, who demanded for the products to pay a token as commitment, or you borrow money to get it done, depending on your relationship with them. When I was about setting up water trade in my hostel, I lent a sum to support what I have; about N10, 000. That was how it began. As it progresses, I sold other things like Recharge cards, pure water, etc to makeup whenever I am shot of cash to buy materials for production. So mine was so simple. I have so many investments till date. I don’t hold physical cash. I love investment.

When did you ventured into entrepreneurship?

I was gifted for creativity and innovation. Entrepreneur is inbuilt in me. According to my mum, when I was about 3 years old, she bought me a bicycle to ride. But I usually charge my age mates sum of one naira to ride to a short distant whenever they wanted to demanded test-run the bicycle. When she inquired the reasons behind my act, I told her that the token was to be used to repair the bicycle whenever is faulty. And she was marveled, and cautioned me to desist from such because she did not know if those children were stealing the money from their parents or elsewhere… Unfortunately, she told me this story last year. I started entrepreneurial job when I was at my third year in the university without informing her till after my graduation last year. If I was aware of her story of my life (which I had forgotten ever since), I wouldn’t have gone for the course I studied at university. I would have gone for management course or its equivalent. But all the same, I give glory to God without any regret. That was God wanted it.

I ceased demanding for money from my parents when I was still at third year. Prior to venturing in business, my parents normally send me N10, 000 pay a month whenever I’m in the school. Sometimes, the cash may not get to my account when is needed. And if you call to inquire from them, they will keep telling you to manage what you have. It often forces me to buy things on credit pending when the money comes.

When I reflected over this, I discovered the necessity of working and learning for supplementation of my mother’s tireless efforts to send me to university. That was how I ventured into marketing food items, among other things. Thereon I began to study my immediate environment to uncover a business idea only to find out they needed water supply at that time. That was how I supplied them with portable water throughout…

You produce breaches yet you have neither shop nor office, how do you get patrons?

Customers are everywhere depending on your products and services. I locate them at their shops, offices, pharmacies, labs, industries… I go mostly where I believe my market is available. When I get to the place, I introduce myself, business and present the prospect with a sample to use and reach me later.
Here it goes for instance, ‘Sir, I’m so so person. I manufacture breach, best quality product for cleansing. If you cherish the product after usage, reach me on phone for proper business”. 

Entrepreneur is called a risk bearer, How do you manage risk?

Business is all about risk. If you can’t risk money, you can’t make money. Sometimes, something might happen and your products will end up not measuring up to the standard you and your customer mostly desired. What I do is to keep it aside and produce standard one because I can’t supply sub-standard products. Such is risk you know. Even the chemical use in the production is risk to human body as well. To entrust money on someone you did not know to purchase raw-materials for you or even to pay advance are all risk you must embark upon if you wish to succeed in life. Most times you get discouraged from your immediate environment, the people you wish to introduce your products to, your mates, finances, and so on. But I surmount all through Christ who strengthens me. So, I manage risk through perseverance, persistence and innovativeness.

What were you able to achieve as a student Entrepreneur?
A lot! At least I was not dependent throughout my staying in UNIZIK and even till date. I cater for my personal needs without demanding for money from anybody. Sometimes, my elder sister, friends and relatives, do borrow from me. I have also trained so many people, who are currently waxing strong in the business. They include my next door neighbour (a student), another one is man in studying Engineering, and others. I’m ready to impact more people to be employer of labour depending on their level of willingness and availability to cope. It requires willingness, focus, determination and modesty. Meanwhile, I have a dream to produce and market a breach, something most different in the market.   

What is your advice to people willing to be educated but no sponsors?

For a person who is passionate to study finances can’t be a threat. Our country needs solution providers. They should learn to be a good manager of time and available resources, and sensitive to their environments always. There are so many fields to engage on and say bye bye to poverty during your studies. You must not be a producer, you can be a marketer or a teacher. Just discover your talents. If you’re good academically, it takes you few seconds to realise your dreams. Just avail yourself to families who are searching for home-teachers for their kids, students and examination candidates you can tutor either in science or art courses. Your class mates or course mates may also be willing. Make out time to show them what you can offer, you shall find yourself smiling to banks daily, weekly or monthly.
You don’t keep borrowing; borrow this, borrow that.  Frequent borrowing could make you beggary or over independent. Learn to be contended with what you have. Believe in yourself, be not intimidated, and then; stand on your feat to defeat poverty, laziness and inferiority complex. Our nation needs youths builders and solution providers.
You can’t get contract job from people without showing them your worth. But above all, allow God to direct your paths by being faithful, friendly, determined, focus and submissive to people. Before I was able to convince a particular man to accept my products, I waited for him to answer phone calls for hours even though he ordered me out of his office in a coarse voice immediately I came in. I didn’t go. I stood still waiting for him till he eventually listened to me. Till today, he uses no other kind of breach exception of mine.
You said you wouldn’t have studied Applied Biochemistry if you were away of your childhood behaviour, so how would you advise parents or children seeking for admission into university on choice of career?

My parents never forced me to study Applied Biochemistry; therefore, I won’t advise any parents to dictate a course or discipline to their children. Children should be allowed to select a course of their choice base on their abilities, talents and skills. These could be achieved through comprehensive enlightenment campaign on career talks right from when they were still in SS1. Government and parents can partner the guidance and counseling experts to teach students all they needed to learn about higher institution. Most people wrongly chose a discipline because of misinformation. Because in secondary schools, we are mostly told of few professional courses like Engineering, Doctor, Lawyer and Nursing at expense of numerous opportunities in management, applied sciences, arts and humanities. Students should be made to understand that passing all science courses or art courses is not a priority for them to go for either of the discipline.
I am also advising those chosen to go for Continuing Education because they failed JAMB or not giving admission, to erase such in their minds. CEP is meant for serious minded students. For instance, CEP students offer same courses regular students offer; same outlines, lecturers and examinations. But while they enjoy one lecture on a topic once a week, regular students can enjoy similar topic three times in a week…Sometimes you may become discouraged as a result of its sluggishness in nature, years and others. In fact, to be well acquainted, you must undergo extra training, research and studies to be able to cope in the school and at the labour market else you may end-up spilling so many courses when your mates might have graduated or even jobless thereafter.



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