Welcome to the ‘TEF Alumni Corner’ – our column where we get to know more about the previous beneficiaries of the $5,000 TEF grant and to follow their entrepreneurial journey.
Today, the spotlight is on Ochanya Antenyi, a Nigerian entrepreneur who received the $5000 grant in December, 2021.
Q: When did you receive the grant?
A: I received the grant in December 2021
Q: What business are you into and how do you run it?
A: I am into creation of handmade bags, footwear, and accessories, they are purely bespoke production. Sometimes people bring pictures of the designs that they would love for us to produce for them, sometimes these products in these pictures could be foreign products but after the creation of our own products, replicating the designs in those pictures, you would not be able to tell the difference. We produce great quality products for people at cheaper rates, this is also a means of promoting our locally made goods.
We produce and sell to people across the country, we also sell in retail and wholesale. Apart from that, we are also into training and empowerment of youths in the crafts. We train them well enough to be self-employed and be masters in the craft, we train them so that they can also train others, and by so doing, we are gradually eradicating unemployment and poverty in the country.
Q: Where is your business located and has the location been favorable to the business?
A: Our main office is located in Jos, and we have a branch in Makurdi. I have been running my business since 2018. I started from Plateau, Jos but the current location of my business is Makurdi. This location has been a little bit favorable compared to Jos especially in terms of security, but there are challenges here too such as the issue of multiple and endless taxation. I really wish that the government would provide enabling environment by exempting small businesses from paying taxes.
I would say that the location has been favorable to the business to a great extent, but we are still facing the problem of power supply and government’s unending taxes. The price of fuel here is also high but we are trying to manage the situation.
Q: Has the grant been able to help you achieve what you set out to achieve?
A: Yes, it has in so many ways and I am so grateful for it.
Q: How has it been able to help you do that?
A: We are still in the first quarter of this year, but the grant has helped us to get most of our necessary machinery for the immediate work, even though we are still planning on getting some but because of the rise in price, we are waiting for stability of the price before further purchases. We have commenced trainings and empowerment of youths especially in this period that university students are on strike.
The grant has helped us purchase our industrial machine, generator and filing machine. This April we are planning to move to a bigger space and commence trainings both online and offline. I really can’t wait before the second half of this year to share my testimonies and at the end of this year, tick all the goals and plans we have accomplished
Q: What would you say is the reason for the success of your business and its expansion?
A: Firstly, the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme grant has played a huge part in the success of my business. It has helped us with training and production. The grant has helped us get the necessary tools for work and trainings. But then again, all businesses need funding even when they are expanding, so another thing is more funding from either TEF or any other organization that will help us grow bigger. We have our milestone this year and we cannot wait to accomplish all of them and give a proper growth talk.
Q: What challenges have you faced during this period?
A: Fuel scarcity, the rise in the price of fuel made the price of the order I placed for a machine to skyrocket, there is an increase in the price of basically everything and then the security issue in the country is one big challenge, it is like going to sleep with both eyes opened, we have so many sad news flying around every day in different parts of the country.
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, I have faced a couple of such challenges
Q: What are such problems and how have you been able to handle them?
A: Well, during this period, I have been faced with the problem of the state taxes and sign post file. There are so many taxes and it makes me wonder if everything is charged for. I am faced with challenges such as the issue of multiples taxes, lack of power supply and high fuel price.
I have not really been able to handle these situations, but I have figured out a way in which I think the government can help us handle it, and that is by exempting small businesses from paying taxes.
Q: Would you say you have been able to make positive impact in your society?
A: Yes, I have been able to do that.
Q: How have you been able to do that?
A: Through our ‘Train the Trainer’ approach, we have reduced unemployment and eradicated hunger for a number of people. We even train some people that don’t have money for the skill acquisition but have interest in learning. We do this on loan, but on agreement that after we train them, they will work for us and we will empower them to start up. We have trained and empowered about 550 people.
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~ Author: Chinenye Akandu