For Christopher Nonso, a 30-year-old young man, his phobia is spending the most of his life in servitude with nothing to show for it. His fear stems from the unjust ways most business owners treat their employers and apprentices. He has seen and heard how a lot of business owners mete out unjust treatment to their trainees by exploiting them for years and dumping the apprentices at the crucial stage of apprenticeship. Christopher dreaded such experience.
Hence for this indigene of Owerri, Imo State, his dream and aspiration is how he would go about starting up his own enterprise and being his own boss. With that in mind, he decided to take his destiny in his own hands.
“Many business owners maltreat those that serve them. I notice many cases where after years of loyal servitude by an apprentice, the master comes up with bogus allegations at the final stage of apprenticeship. The master could accuse the trainee of having stolen his money or they start up the apprentice with occult money.
I didn’t want to experience any of these disappointments. That is why I decided to take my destiny in my own hands,” he recalled.
When he rounded off his secondary school education, young Christopher braced up to face the vicissitudes that life has thrown him into. He left home, deciding to come down to Lagos with one of his uncles, who were a commercial motorcyclist (okada). Mr Nonso worked with him for a year but opted out because it was not his passion.
Trudging through life, he later secured an employment as a factory worker, and after working for more than four years, Christopher knew he hasn’t met his expectation.
He continues: “I took up a job in a factory and was employed as a casual worker. Later on, I was made a staffer. But my salary was too poor. I barely managed to feed myself with it let alone having any savings. Having worked in the factory for four years and one month without anything to show for it, I decided to pursue another venture.”
He knew that time was running out on him but God answered his prayers the very day he noticed his neighbour, who has a flourishing shoemaking venture. Christopher was intrigued at the skill and dexterity with which the shoes were made. It was at that juncture that fate ignited his instincts to go learn a skill and go into entrepreneurship.
“At that period of dilemma, I noticed my neighbour that makes shoes. I got interested in the venture and approached him to enquire what it would cost to acquire shoe making skills. But he laughed at me and offered to teach me at no cost at all.
“That was how I started handiwork. I learnt the skill for two years and one month, and in two months time I left to start up my own shoe-making franchise.”
The story of Christopher Nonso aptly authenticates, that a small business like shoe making is a unique medium that can transform the life of any business inclined individual that is committed to the project.
Shoe making business in Nigeria is becoming a lucrative one. This is attributable to lower and middle class Nigerians’ increasingly keen interest and demand for locally produced shoes, instead of patronising foreign made shoes or second hand imported shoes.
Confirming the viability of this line of business, Daniel Nwaozor, a Mass Communication graduate and the owner of Cherry-Dee Footwear, says shoe making in Nigeria is very rewarding, and “it is a money spinning and a low risk business. This is because everybody needs to wear shoes out of his or her house every day. so there is an ever growing demand for locally made shoes and slip-ons.”
To kickstart another shoe-maker, Olajide Ayodeji of Shoe Master in Mushin, hints that it is basic for budding shoe makers should try to bring something fresh to the market. “I say this because I believe that the fastest way to make it fast in this venture to be creative and carve a niche out for yourself with the style of foot wears you make,” he said.
Mr Nonso agrees, adding that shoe making is one venture that can be started with very little capital. “On a good business day I make up to N10,000, but in ‘dry’ days I go home with at least N2,000. The most important thing is for one to know the job very well and launch out. Even where one does not have that enough money to buy shoe-making equipment, such person can be borrowing from colleagues that have the machines, pending when you grow in the business.”
According to these shoe-makers, one key way to market their brand is citing shoe retail shops at a good location that guarantees human traffic and customer accessibility.
An expert with StartUpBiz. com says “selecting target location for the purpose of patronage for small-scale production should be dependent on factors like traffic area, area where people are already in buying mood, a spacious store showing your items and parking space is very important; people might not like to shop if they have trouble in parking.”
Furthermore, hard work and creativity is another strong marketing strategy when producing and marketing footwear.
“My hard work speaks for me through my designs and my customers bring in more people to come patronize me. I believe that as long as your job is different from others people will always locate you no matter where you are,” Christopher said.
Mr Nwaozor also said that one must be seriously involved in the business it not for lazy people. “You need to promote your business to a high level so that people can believe in you. Do not see yourself as a road – side shoe cobbler or shoe maker. That was the way I felt when I started up but after a while I saw some of my school mates that are still waiting for white collar jobs. I compared myself with them and noticed that I have excelled more than them.”
Source : SunOnline