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Learn at least one skill – Olaiya

Olaiya Funmilola, 27, combines fashion designing with making and selling zobo drink.  In this interview, she tells  ANNA OKON about the two businesses

Tell us a bit about yourself.

 I am the Chief Executive Officer of Lola’s Designs, a fashion outfit. I also make quality zobo drinks.

 What is fashion business to you, a passion or a means of making money?

 Fashion business is both a passion and a means of making money for me. I had dreamt of being a fashion designer since I was a child. Now, it has become a source of income for me.

 Was fashion designing your original choice of career?

 Yes, fashion designing has always been my career choice.

 What is your assessment of the fashion industry in Nigeria and what role do you think young people have to play in the business?

 Fashion has now become a very big industry in Nigeria because a lot of people now sew their clothes instead of wearing imported ones.  The role the young people have to play is to reduce the rate of nudity in the country.

 What is the greatest challenge that you face in the fashion business?

 The greatest challenge I face at the moment is with power failure. Inadequate electricity slows down my work.

 Do you think young entrepreneurs are getting enough encouragement from the government?

 I do not think young entrepreneurs are getting enough support from the government.  The government can do more to help small businesses that are run by young people. I do not see the government doing this. I rather see them focusing on agriculture which is only one of the numerous viable sectors of the economy.

 What more can the government do to help young entrepreneurs like you?

 Government can help by establishing empowerment programmes for the youths and also by giving equipment to start-ups to help them grow their businesses.

 How did you get into the zobo making business?

 The idea came when we had love feast/seminar on fizzy drinks in the church. We were told that fizzy drinks were not good for the body, that we should instead take natural drinks like fruit juice and zobo.  So I decided to start making zobo which did not require too much capital to start.

 How are you able to combine zobo making and fashion business?

 I make zobo once a week and supply to super markets and shops, put the rest in the freezer and carry them to church on Sunday. My fashion business is a daily affair.

 Are you getting enough satisfaction from the two business?

 Yes I am.

 What are the challenges of making and selling zobo?

 I have two challenges; the first one is power failure because when there is no light I will need to spend extra money to run the generator in order to preserve it. The second one is bottling. Sometimes, the bottling company disappoints me when they are supposed to make supplies.

Which of the two businesses gives you more money?

Fashion gives me more money.

How many employees do you have?

I work alone but I have three people helping me in a casual arrangement.

What advice do you have for young people who are still looking for jobs?

 My advice to them is that they should learn at least one skill and start small. They don’t have to waste time seeking for employment.

Where do you see yourself and your business in the next five years?

 I see myself having a big fashion house because Lola’s Fashion House is a dream for now. I also see the whole of Nigerians drinking my zobo.

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