#TEFAlumniCorner: Margaret Umet, Coconut Oil Producer from Nigeria
Today, we shine the light on Margaret Umet, an entrepreneur who is into the production of Coconut oil and distribution of eggs in Nigeria.
Q: When did you receive the grant?
A: I received the grant on the 29th of December 2021
Q: What business are you into and how do you run it?
A: I am into coconut oil production, I produce and supply to supermarkets, cosmetics producers, and some other vendors. Some of them buy from me and sell as retailers. I sell in both wholesale and retail. The people who buy in wholesale do not come every day, so I have to do a mixture of both wholesale and retail since I am still trying to build my customer base.
I usually travel as far as Akwa Ibom state to get coconuts and some materials needed to produce coconut oil. I later had to diversify a little. I ventured into the supply of eggs, I buy eggs from farms and sell. I had to delve into that as a way of generating secondary income.
For now, I have not started producing the coconut oil in larger quantities as I would want but I am still looking forward to it, this is because coconuts have become really expensive and transportation is a problem that I am facing, but I am taking the steps gradually, surveying the whole situation and monitoring the market to see how far my customer base would go before making a bigger investment in that.
Q: Where is your business located and has the location been favorable to your business?
A: My business is located in Port Harcourt, but I am from Cross river state. I do the business from the comfort of my home for now, but I am looking forward to getting a shop, a business center. Firstly, I would say that Port Harcourt alone is a business city, and it is a great business city, lots of things are happening and businesses are thriving, I don’t think there is any business in Port Harcourt that is well structured that cannot grow or do well here. So, for me, I would say that Port Harcourt is very okay for me and my business can grow here, I am very comfortable here.
Before now, I have been into one or two businesses, though capital had always been my challenge but right now I am very confident especially because of all that I have learnt from the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, coupled with the skills I have and with enough funding, I am certain my business can thrive very well here in Port Harcourt.
Q: Would you say that the grant has been able to help you achieve what you set out to achieve?
A: Yes! Wow! It has indeed. I really thank God for using our mentor, Mr. Tony Elumelu to change our lives. I was so happy when I got the grant, it was like a light at the end of the tunnel. I was so happy, and I am still happy, I cannot thank him and the team enough. The grant has really been of great help to me in so many ways.
Q: How has the grant been able to help you do so?
A: First off, the grant brought back my confidence and lost hope. I can order for almost five hundred crates of eggs and people are buying a lot of eggs from me, farms are calling me everywhere. The grant has really changed my life, even from the profits I make, I have been able to settle my bills, my rent and children’s school fees. I really thank God for the opportunity. My business is really growing, people even queue up to buy eggs and coconut oil from me. Even the people that were not initially concerned about me are now calling me everywhere to patronize them simply because the resources are now available. I am really very happy!
One of my most wonderful achievements is the knowledge I got from the training, it has really helped me a lot to nurture and control my sales and business. I am thankful for this opportunity and grateful to God for everything. Thank you so much TEF!
Q: What challenges have you faced during this period and how have you been able to handle them?
A: I wouldn’t say there are no challenges because every business sometimes encounters challenges, what matters is how you meander your way through it and come out at the other side, that is what makes you a good entrepreneur.
I have been faced with a couple of challenges and one of them is transportation and mobility. Sometimes I would have so many things to deliver but my movement would be restricted because of lack of transportation, sometimes I spend so much money on transportation, including taxes when I go to buy things, that is one huge problem that I am facing now. Though I am heavily pregnant, but I still try to struggle through it, it is a challenge for me but I like to see it as a good one. And I know that when I finally put to bed I would handle every other challenge with enthusiasm and break records. I am a business minded person and I love business, from the comfort of my home now I am doing so well, with time it will get even better.
Another challenge I am faced with is the issue of fuel scarcity, it is also the reason why the transportation fare is increasing every day.
Q: Sometimes, entrepreneurs think money is the only issue, but some end up facing bigger issues like government unfavourable policies etc. Have you been faced with any unforeseen problems in your entrepreneurial career?
A: Yes, that’s very true. I have.
Q: What are such problems and how have you been able to handle them?
A: One of such problems for me is the rise in dollar rate, transportation issue, the heightened price of fuel and other goods, it is actually affecting every other aspect of life and it is really sad. It is affecting production for me, it is basically affecting everything, the prices of things keep rising on daily basis. This is really affecting my coconut oil production because going down to rural areas to get coconuts for the production, the transportation fare is usually something else, and I always buy a lot of coconuts, at the end of the day, transporting back to my base becomes an issue as transportation fare is usually expensive. After going through this, you will still be faced with the problem of lack of power supply. All these are really not helping matters at all.
About being able to handle them, I can’t say I have been able to, but I am doing my best to manage the situation.
Q: Would you say you have been able to make positive impact in your society? If yes, how have you been able to do so?
A: For now, I won’t say that I have made that much of a positive impact in the society, but I would say that I have made a little impact. This is because I try to reach out to everybody, and for those that have little, I try to give out my items at an affordable price so that it will get to everybody at every level.
Although I still must sit down and analyze my market survey to find out what most people really want, that would bring in more positive impact for myself and for my society. And, I believe that by buying from others to make my own products, I’m also being of positive impact as I am adding to the revenue as well.
~ Author: Chinenye Akandu