By Wilson Adekumola
If you are poor, perhaps it’s your choice. That seems to be the message of a conference organised for budding women entrepreneurs by Chefflizzy Foundation Initiative on November 19 in Lagos.
The conference theme tagged; “Entrepreneur Mindset; start with what you have”, provided a great platform for women to take advantage of ingenious initiatives that could pull them out of poverty.
The venue of the event which took place in Alausa was filled to the brim. business owners, potential business owners, and eminent personalities from all walks of life were in attendance to benefit from the conference.
You can break away from poverty
But the opening remark of the convener, Elizabeth Solomon-Sodipo was as a soothing therapy for women who perhaps had lost hope. It served as a great encouragement to the participants that they could break away from the ring of poverty.
Solomon-Sodipo, who is one of the vibrant instructors in the Lagos Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation recalled how she once worked as a home help in her drive to break the poverty chain in her family.
She said that her humble background inspired her to help poor mothers. Over the years, the foundation has impacted many lives and has helped pull people out of poverty.
Recounting her humble background she said, “Growing up was very tough. As a young girl, I did not see happiness on my mother’s face. She was always nodding her head. That really affected me in my early life, it almost eroded my self-confidence.”
But the love she had for her mother pushed her to want to help with the family’s upkeep.
“It was that grinding poverty that made me start looking for what to do so I could also help at home. I had to join my mother in doing menial jobs so we could put food on the table. In the midst of this gripping poverty, my mother kept encouraging me to go to school. It was the school factor and the decision never to give up that helped me to get out of the poverty chain finally.”
Your story can transform you
While noting that everyone has a story to tell, she told the participants, “What is important is what you do with the story of your life. It may not make sense now. But at the end of today, you will acquire all you need to transform your life from this plethora of trainers at your disposal. Your lens is your eye you must be able to see opportunity around you”
Many of the facilitators at the event have had difficult times in the past. They include; Taiwo Adejumo, CEO Harris Philips Consulting, a dual citizen of Nigeria and Canada, Paul Nwolisa, Registrar Daystar Skills Acquisition Program (DSAP), Enahoro Okhae, and CEO Pause Factory/GIGM Mobility.
Other facilitators were: Moji Ogunkoya, Founder of Four Large Mind Consulting, Sijuade Balogun Pyrex Consult and Ambassador Willie Wolkman among others.
Change your mindset
They talked about the entrepreneur mindset, ranging from how to start a small business and expand it in the nearest future.
Paul Nwolisa said, “we have trained people. But what we have not done is tell people to make a shift of mind. An entrepreneur is someone who sees an opportunity and creates a business to exploit it. Entrepreneurship is a way of thinking and the processes that guide thinking. Beyond talent, you need the skill to be a successful business person.”
Enahoro Okhae told the participants to get a mentor saying the secret to growing in a business depends on the kind of relationship one creates, “so have a mentor. Seek knowledge and partner with somebody that is doing something that interests you so that you don’t become useless. The kind of relationship you have goes a long way to determine your success.”
Connect with people
In her own words, Taiwo Adejumo encouraged the audience to be of good character and integrity to thrive in business adding that they must know how to connect with people.
She then outlined the 5Ds that can make someone successful in business. She said that “Determination, Discipline, Diligence, Dedication, and Desire’ will always make you exceptional in a business.”
At the conference, awards were given to some dignitaries for their commitment and meritorious service to humanity.
But the high point of the one-day event was the delivery by the Commissioner for Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Lagos, Mrs., Cecilia Bolaji Dada.
Dada implored women to take advantage of the skill acquisition programs of the ministry so they could break loose from poverty.
She disclosed that the ministry has 18 skill acquisition schemes where about twenty vocations are taught free of charge.
Dada was represented at the event by the Senior Executive Officer, of the NGO Unit of the ministry, Mrs., Omogoriola Becky.
Free training for women
She described the theme of the conference as thought-provoking considering the scarcity of jobs and the grinding poverty in the country.
According to her, the women’s ministry had graduated 16,900 students from its centers. “Many of these women had become employers of labour. The ministry also organizes short-term skills and long-term skills acquisition programmes.”
The short-term programmes according to her take about two weeks after which start-up packs are given to participants.
She urged the over 170 participants at the conference to feel free to take advantage of the ministry’s programmes if they want to. She also urged them not to despise their days of little beginning.
While explaining that ChefLizzy Foundation Initiative is in line with the obligation of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and Poverty Alleviation.
The ministry according to her is saddled with the responsibility of reducing poverty among women and girls, through numerous empowerment programs.
She decried the threat to the lives of women. “In Nigeria, for instance, the traditional indigenous community believes women are expected to play multidimensional roles of a wife, mother, and housekeeper. Unfortunately, these women continuously suffer as people who are oppressed and marginalized. Some factors make it almost impossible for them to achieve and reach their maximum potential.” she said.
The commissioner said the need to encourage and empower entrepreneurs has become significant as “they are people that create jobs, drive and nurture businesses which speed up natural changes in the economy. They create large-scale employment which reduces unemployment and produces balance in regional development to stimulate the equitable redistribution of wealth.”
Quoting statistics she said, “In 2017, more than 11.6 million funds are owned by women, employing 9 million people and generating 1.7 trillion in sales.
“Some women, who have overcome business hurdles, are making a great impact in the business world. Female entrepreneurs are women in business who have the courage to create and manage an enterprise with a vision to positively influence lives in the world.” She disclosed.