Shopping centre in Abuja

Mrs. Esther Wankyoga, owns a small provision shop in Kugbo, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). She says she has achieved more in her business than she would working as a sales representative for a furniture maker. PAUL OKAH reports.

It is a well known fact that, among the three basic necessities of life (food, clothing and shelter), food is regarded as the most important, because human beings must first of all eat to stay alive before thinking of what to wear and where to sleep.
Esther, who hails from Abia state, apart from operating a thriving provision shop is a fashion designer.
When Business Starter visited her store recently, there was an endless stream of people going in and out of Esther’s shop in Kugbo, a suburb of Karu in FCT, to buy one item or the other.
According to Esther, she has been able to use proceeds from her business to take care of personal needs and to cater for her two little children.
She also said she hopes to return to school once she is through with child bearing.
According to her, “I make a lot of profit from the business. I use the money from the business to take care of some miscellaneous expenses that I wouldn’t want to bother my husband with.
“I can buy things for my children and myself with money from the business without asking my husband for a refund.
” However, if I make a lot of expenses, I take note of them and my husband always refund the money to me when convenient for him so that I can continue in business.
“My husband pays half of the shop rent and pay the other half. We already have our personal house, so we don’t pay house rent.”
However, the business is not without its challenges. According to her, her greatest challenge is the lack of power supply and the attitude of some of her customers that owe her.
According to her, “The challenge of the business is with perishable goods like tomatoes and pepper, as I at times lose money when they spoil.
“Power supply is a challenge too, as customers at times demand for chilled drinks when there is no power supply. In such a situation, I spend money to buy ice block to chill the drinks.
“Ice block of five hundred naira can last for two days and the power supply will be restored within that time. At times, customers buy goods on credit and then get angry and start avoiding you when you demand for payment.
“They will hold back the money you are supposed to use to replenish your stock. You will be regarded as being unfeeling in this Buhari period of hardship if you don’t sell on credit.
“They take advantage of your familiarity to set you back in business because of debt. And if you complain, they will go to patronise your competitors.”

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How she started the business
Esther explained that she replaced her elder sister as a sales representative for a furniture marker in 2015, when her family to sponsor her elder sister in the University, even when she was offered a provisional admission to study Mass Communication at Abia State University, Uturu.
“I was being paid #15,000 per month, including a weekly payment of #1,000 for transportation and #200 per day for feeding and I was coming from Mararaba everyday to Kugbo for the sales.”

Light at the end of the tunnel
“I then registered themselvesow to sew clothes. I met my husband after I graduated from my sewing class. He is from Benue State. We courted for just three months before we wedded on 16th March, 2016.
“I initially set off to become a professional seamstress, but the environment was not encouraging; as many of my neighbours liked buying materials on credit and wouldn’t pay for my professional fees, so I set up my provision business on 26th June, 2017.
“My husband had decided to set me up in business by renting a shop for me and giving me money to stock the shop. I was pregnant so he didn’t want me to stress herself much, but to just go to the market once or twice a week and then keep herself busy by interacting with people, instead of being lonely at home.
“I buy products at Orange Market, Mararaba, from Alhaji Sani and Alhaji Bangis, who supply me with rice, beans, sugar, milk, spaghetti, pampers, etc.
“However, some marketers bring goods to my shop, to save me the stress of going to Mararaba and I pay cash in all my transactions.”

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Future ambition
Many women feel fulfilled and allow themselves be limited by marriage, but not Esther, who feels she has to fulfil her ambition to acquire a University degree; something she feels was denied her by her father.
Thisrding to her, “I really wanted to study Mass Comm, but my father denied me the opportunity by refusing to sponsor my education.
However, since I learnt how to sew, I will now study Event Management in the University, once I train up my children to a certain level.”

How to start your own provision store
Starting a fashion designing business is not as difficult as people think. People make a lot of money from rendering invaluable services to human beings and smiling to the bank for all their effort. You do not have to wave the magic wand to become a fashion designer.
All you need to do is to sign an apprenticeship with someone who is already in the business; that will teach you how to sew clothes and render professional or home services to wealthy clients women who can’t make it to your office.
This may take you between 12-24 months to learn; in order to become a professional.

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Things you need to start a fashion designing shop includes:

1. A shop: this may be a rented room or a container
2. Sewing machine, pen or pencil
3. Clothes to sew, pressing iron, chalk, recording book
4. Needle, scissors, oil for your machine
5. Table for cutting of clothes,etc.
Also, in this era of survival, you can set up a provision store to sell groceries or things that people require in your neighbourhood.
This is where a good businessman/woman makes the bulk of his money, as he or she renders services for payment. Someone willing to go into the business should get all the following, in no particular order:

Things you need to start up a provision store business
1. Knowledge of what people need in your area
2. Knowledge of where to buy products at cheap prices
3. Money to make purchases in bulk
4. A good customer service relationship
5. Reliable helping hands
6. A shop or space for the business.

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