Founders & fixers: Entrepreneurial pursuits of four exceptional women
Patience Bamidele Amaebite (The Springboard), Kalanne Ebiye-Koripamo (Kayge Cosmetics), Ifeoma Egbuonu (CEO, Homey Thrills & GCAP) and Tareela Okene (Dripples Cakes) are young, intelligent, ambitious and innovative Nigerian women who founded their businesses and are nurturing it against all odds. From business growth to skincare and beauty, edutainment and baking, these audacious women spoke to TOBI AWODIPE on their journey to success, overcoming challenges, succeeding in the world of entrepreneurship, helping women build a successful business amongst other issues.
Patience Bamidele Amaebite (The Springboard)
PATIENCE leads the charge in propelling individuals, entrepreneurs and experts in pursuit of building successful businesses, making a global impact and creating wealthy legacies. She’s a leading Business Growth Coach and Launch Strategist in Nigeria often referred to as The Springboard due to her expertise and strategy deployed into launching businesses and facilitating upscale.
Armed with several degrees earned both home and abroad, she seeks to create a pathway to boost the capacity and capability of aspiring and growing entrepreneurs with the wealthy woman tribe, Tribe of Oofy, a learning and coaching hub for ladies in 2019, and Walletcubes Limited, a financial management and wealth creation company in 2020. She recently authored the Business Intelligence Series making waves in the global arena for start-ups and entrepreneurs who want to stand out in their niche, build formidable teams, gain visibility in a crowded market and scale their earning capacities. The five-book series titled The BOSS Series is available on global platforms and local bookstores.
What does being a business growth coach and launch strategist entail?
A business growth coach provides expert, tailored advice to help businesses achieve rapid, sustainable growth. As a business growth coach, I provide expert strategic marketing advice and coaching for ambitious business owners and their teams to support their growth through business development, leadership and management, marketing, strategy, and change campaigns.
A launch strategist defines and directs several stages of a new product or service, including development, internal testing, external testing, objective and goal setting, positioning, excitement building and event timing. As a launch strategist, I ensure the viability of a new product or service, from ideas to testing, creating, packaging, positioning, and meeting targeted objectives and goals.
In your opinion, why is it that many SMEs and start-ups fail in their first year, and how can we improve on this?
Key challenges crushing small and medium scale enterprises include inefficiency of African capital markets in supporting SMEs, low capacity, the need for upskilling and training and minimal visibility to a broader investor base. Others are the absence of government-led SME strategy to develop the ecosystem, inadequate funding, poor management, inadequate information, poor record-keeping, lack of enabling environment, lack of infrastructural facilities and inadequate business, financial, management, and leadership skills.
This situation can be improved if we continuously focus and devote time and resources to addressing these challenges, which will indirectly create multiple channels for the development and growth of SMEs and start-ups.
In what ways are you helping aspiring women-owned businesses navigate these rugged terrains successfully?
I assist through training, one-on-one coaching, online courses, educational and financial management resources and so on. I recently created two coaching programmes, My Business Case, and The BOSS Con Mastermind Program. These two programmes are focused on helping women founders and CEOs with tailor-made solutions to their business needs or challenges.
In fact, the Mastermind Programme is a 12-week training session for ladies in the business. WalletCUBEs Ltd also provides growth funding, wealth creation, bookkeeping and financial management services to women-owned businesses.
Your almost two decades of rich experience have been translated into a book you recently authored. Tell us more about this?
For nearly two decades, I have worked in different leadership positions in the oil and gas sector. In that period, I have been part of helping many upstarts grow into successful businesses and learnt a lot along the way. I have also experienced three failed businesses and I learnt the common mistakes we usually make at the start-up and growth phases. I have put most of what I have learnt about starting, growing, and sustaining successful businesses into five amazing volumes that make up The Boss Series.
Results speak, not noise. While some achieve results after lots of trials, some have the advantage of tapping into the wisdom of those who have achieved the results they seek. The Boss Series is for those who desire a radical change in how they do business because it separates the onlookers from the doers. The series contains Hey Boss, Flow Boss, Show Boss, Grow Boss, and Go Boss. Hey Boss is the wake-up call for building and managing business empires. Show Boss teaches you how to build visibility and significance. Grow Boss helps tweak your business intelligence. Flow Boss is your guide for developing winning strategies for team dynamics and effectiveness. Go Boss positions you for getting ahead and sustaining momentum. Together, these books form the Boss Kit, or what I call the black box for real bosses and entrepreneurs. This is a preparation kit to navigate the unsure waters of entrepreneurship and grow influence and visibility.
Kalanne Ebiye-Koripamo (Kayge Cosmetics)
Popularly known as The Skin Glow Hacker, Kalanne is an internationally certified Cosmetologist with over 16 years of experience. A published author of getting Noticed Skin First; a skincare beauty guide, she pivoted her business model from having physical interactions and innovated with online sessions to help ladies all over the world regain their confidence in their skin during the pandemic.
With a vision to be the go-to lifestyle and beauty companion for women in Nigeria and Africa, Kalanne has trained almost 1,500 women to become financially independent through the business of beauty and skincare. Also the COO of Buns & Batter Ltd, a sit-in bakery and bistro in Port Harcourt, she also sits on the board of directors of Macwills Ltd.
How would you rate Nigeria’s beauty and skincare industry today? Is it living up to full expectations?
I’d certainly say it’s flourishing since so many people want to look and feel good, which has increased the creativity and product expansion in Nigeria. There’s also a rise in indigenous beauty and skincare brands, who have chosen to look inwards instead of just importing products.
As a professional aesthetician, I’m worried because a lot of formulators are hiding under the umbrella of creating organic and natural skincare to produce harmful products just to make a quick buck. I believe proper structure needs to be put in place to regulate what is being produced locally; ensuring the right ingredients are used, with the formulation and proper instructions on how to use. Certain ingredients that are prescription based shouldn’t be used free, because, in the long run, it causes skin damage and creates a bad perception to brands that are actually doing it right.
Many people equate skincare to toning due to what is rampant in the industry now. Is this something that bothers you and how are you dealing with it?
Not exactly, because I know that if they knew better, they wouldn’t interchangeably use skincare and toning, as they are polar opposites. Skincare is the range of practices that support skin integrity, enhance its appearance and relieve skin conditions, which include nutrition, avoidance of excessive sun exposure and appropriate use of emollients and so on. My job is to educate individuals on the right skin practices through my virtual consultations sessions.
Generally, people forget to use and reapply sunscreen and that causes a lot of pigmentation issues I get to see during most of my sessions. The use and reapplication of a broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 and above that is also water-resistant would help protect the skin. There are two types of UV light that can harm your skin, UVA and UVB; a broad-spectrum sunscreen protects you from both.
UVA rays can prematurely age your skin, causing wrinkling and age spots, while UVB rays can burn your skin. If we can constantly remember to re-apply, we won’t have as many sun tanned/pigmented skin conditions that we see today. These pigmentations lead individuals to want to lighten and bleach their skin, which is so harmful, and in the long run, is not the root of the problem.
As someone with experience in the industry, how best can we get Nigerians to use and appreciate homegrown products?
I think our beauty brands can compete with the more international brands simply because we understand skin of colour better. We’ve got great products and with more funding, we’ll actually start exporting our beauty secrets internationally. The most important thing is for customers to look for trusted authorities like us to get them noticed skin first.
You also run a bakery and bistro, how do you combine all these roles successfully?
As a woman, I believe one of the special gifts God blessed us with is multitasking. For me, I wear several hats; I’m a wife, mum and entrepreneur, running two businesses. But I think knowing what’s important and building a structure around it really helps, it sure has helped me.
Ifeoma Egbuonu (CEO, Garden city amusement park)
Innovator, event planner and project coordinator, Ifeoma is the brain behinds Homey thrills and parties, Anambra kitchen Ng and the Creative Director of Garden City Amusement Park (GCAP). A graduate of the University of Port Harcourt, she brings over 14 years of experience in theme park management/event, educational development, as well as problem-solving and communication skills. She hosts the Garden City Spelling Bee Competition, Garden City Mental Maths Competition, Garden City Family Funfair and Garden City Beauty and Brain Pageant.
As a chief proponent of ‘edutainment,’ what does it mean for you and how are you exemplifying it through what you do?
As an advocate of learning and playing, I have always believed in striking a balance and this is what I preach to parents as well as school operators. We are in a part of the world where the book is everything; we put our children through unnecessary academic pressure.
But I believe in a well-rounded life and this is why I am a proponent of edutainment. Our recreation space helps children and family to find time to unwind and catch fun while our educational project helps children improve mentally. I believe in catching them young and that works for me.
How important are recreation in maintaining a healthy work-life balance and societal development?
Recreation is very important and with the amount of stress we go through in this part of the world, it’s worrisome the average Nigerian doesn’t believe in holiday or family time.
Again, the lack of little or no recreation centre in this city is also an issue, but I have been able to come up with a solution because I believe strongly in family bonding and recreation. This is what made me set up an amusement park to help families bond with their children and GCAP is equipped with world-class rides that have helped in creating premium fun.
Asides from running the park and planning events, you also hold spelling bees, mental maths competition, funfairs and beauty pageants. Where does your passion stem from and how are you combing all these activities successfully?
I love children so much and will do everything to make them happy. Creating memories for families and most especially children is what drives me. This is why most of my projects are tied around them. It’s doesn’t stress me, provided children are well taken care of.
Tell us a few things you have done/are doing that have helped in your career growth?
I am always open to learning new things and takes corrections when needed. I avoid distractions and focus on my work and avail myself of workshops, conferences and so on. As part of my career growth, I have been able to earn certificates in event management and design from several notable bodies.
Tareela Okene (Dripples Cakes)
A passionate and detailed cake decorator, sugar artist, and enthusiastic tutor with over 15 years of experience in the baking industry, Tareela is the founder and creative director at Dripples Cakes, Port Harcourt. A graduate of Library Science from Delta State University, she found her true love in baking and is now well known for her inspiring designs and tremendous cake ideas, which creates ripples of happiness for her numerous customers.
Her passion further led her to start Dripples Academy where she teaches and shares her craft skills and has now trained over 12,000 students, some of who now proudly own and run their own businesses.
You dumped library science for cake and sugar crafts, have you ever regretted this decision?
I have never ever regretted not pursuing what I studied at the university.
Tell us about your academy, how impactful would you say it has been?
We focus on giving practical and real-time experience in cake decorating and the aim is to equip our students with skills and knowledge that help to set them apart in the industry.
A lot of bakers say the craft is a calling, do you feel this way yourself and should more people embrace it?
Yes, in my own opinion, the craft was what drew my attention to it. Creating edible arts in making events memorable became a thing of fulfilment. I’ll advise more people to embrace it because it is lucrative and interestingly, one can start this business from the comfort of their homes, which is exactly how I started.
Tell our readers three things to do and three thongs to avoid in order to be as successful as you in this field?
In the first few years starting out, I made silly mistakes in terms of business structure. We were ignorant in our operations, and we didn’t resolve these issues; it would have led to more frustration and slowed our growth. I would suggest the following: Working in your business rather than working on your business. Most bakers forget they wear several hats; an artist, a baker, a creative designer, collaborator and many more, which means you are working as an employee in the business. You can get so caught up with so much work and then forget to wear the CEO hat, which is also very necessary in the evaluation of the business goals, products and services, tracking your revenue and profit and so on.
Letting your clients dictate what you sell: Imagine if every restaurant on a particular street didn’t have a menu and they all cook what customers’ request for, I’m sure you know what the result would be. No one would specialise in a particular cuisine and they will struggle with workload since every meal they cook is different for each client. In summary, don’t be like everybody. Create your own menu and develop a brand identity to sell to your potential clients.
Poor marketing skills: One big mistake bakers make, especially with newbies, is that they rely only on word of mouth marketing. This form of marketing is great, but that’s not all you should rely on. Why wait for cake customers to just appear? You need a lot of work and dedication to get and retain customers. Use social media platforms to share your story and work and show how you love the product or service you sell.