I had the pleasure of interviewing Mobolanle a Nigerian entrepreneur and financial consultant. In our interview, Mobolanle touches on her personal struggles of getting financial information to keep her business above water. Juggling a husband, kids and a brand new business, Mobolanle gives back to her community by providing relevant financial information to female entrepreneurs in Nigeria. I hope her story empowers you to take charge of your finances in your personal life and business.
1. What inspired you to start ‘Clara’s Bakery’?
Clara’s Bakery was started as a neighborhood hot bread shop within my immediate community. The inspiration came when my husband and I visited a popular bakery in Abuja and ‘accidentally’ entered the baking room.
It was a huge mess!
We walked away without buying that bread and realized it was most probably the reason why bakeries are so receptive to people even viewing their work rooms.
We then decided to start a small, neat and hygienic bakery, where we would be held accountable to our clients because they could view our working stations through a glass partition. It was innovative and unique at that time and was a huge hit! We’ve grown and modified our business extensively since then.
2. What specific struggles did you face when starting your business?
My greatest struggle when starting my business will be the lack of trained personnel and proper information. The industry is a very informal one and the barrier to entry is very low. There was also nowhere to find the regulatory authorities to which you are subject to and the fines and levies you are expected to pay periodically. So I had a situation where my cash flow projections kept getting upset and it was quite frustrating. There’s also the issue of power supply. It hits me in a way I was not prepared for.
The cost of powering your business can be overwhelming, not forgetting we will still pay our regular electricity bill; our not having the electricity not withstanding. At the beginning it can be daunting. It is not like the struggles vanish as your business grows. It’s just that you are more prepared for them and you just tend to flow with the tide after a while.
3. What are some of the challenges of starting a business in Nigeria as a woman?
A Nigerian woman not starting a business is already swimming in a sea of challenges by the mere fact of being a woman in a Nigerian society. Add starting a business to that and the challenges can seem insurmountable. The greatest challenge will be societal expectations and stereotypes.
For instance: in the mornings, while a man wakes up, dresses up, eats breakfast, carries his briefcase and is on his merry way to work; a woman is to also ensure the kids are ready for school, breakfast is ready (and sometimes lunch too), the house is tidy and still prepare herself for her own day too. Add is she’s pregnant or has a little baby to the mix and some women will not even bother to start the business in the first place. Just might seem not to be worth the trouble.
On the business front, there are a lot of places she is unable to penetrate for business or where she is not taken as seriously as her male counterparts. My husband and I once put a property up for sale. Unfortunately when a prospective buyer came in to close the deal, my husband was not present and I was. I asked that he sits down let’s talk and he actually laughed at my face saying ‘I don’t discuss money with women’. He walked out.
There are so many horror and untold stories women have experienced in running a business. It’s easy to get knocked out on all fronts. Bruised and battered, only the persistent remain standing.
4. What inspired you to start your platform “Mobolanle Oshin”?
Four years prior to and while running my business, I have been the go to person for a lot of entrepreneurs on advice and mentoring both of which I have always been excited to do. I also have a philosophy of making sure every activity you carried out is done deliberately. That is your yield is in multiple of your efforts. That is the core of productivity. One time I was out of the country to have my baby and my business struggled because of my absence. That was bondage for me.
So I take the pains to create systems and processes in my business that give me relief and makes sure my business does not become a burden- rather than a gift. The more processes and systems I created and kept on modifying, the more of my passion and other desires of my heart I could attend to. Teaching and sharing my knowledge is one of them.
That’s how ”Mobolanle Oshin’ as a brand was born.
It is a platform to share my experience, my knowledge and my skills; with the people with whom we share I can identify with their struggles and challenges the most- women. And to share with others the tools I have used to gain this advantage despite all the odds. A tool I have developed and redeveloped over the last 8 years.
The Financial Fitness System
5. What is most unique about your platform? What do you offer that other platforms do not?
One realization that is repeated over and over again by my clients; is that I do not teach ‘theory’, I teach practical real life business solutions. I have sat down in many training classes being facilitated by individuals that have PhDs in business; but own no business of their own. It’s not long before you realize they are speaking over your heads. Nothing beats experience. There are a lot of business advice that I recommend that are contrary to mainstream thinking.
We shouldn’t just jump on ideas, no matter from whom they come from.
When I speak, I speak with the clear understanding of the challenges you will face in any path you choose; so my time with you is how you will achieve results, despite what might speak to the contrary; until we achieve a result that is practical and workable.
I also work with the Financial Fitness System Model. It is a model that has worked for me and a lot of other entrepreneurs over the years. It is made up of the 3 elements of Forecasting, Tracking and Reviewing everything you do in your business… and life actually.
It’s a deliberate method of doing things and when applied in your business, it doubles productivity; profits and ensures a lifestyle growth that allows you to explore other desires you want to explore in your life.
It’s great really.
6. Any word of advice for a contemporary African woman who is trying to be financially independent?
I used to think financial independence and stability is a mirage. A lot of women still do.I’m a living witness to say it is not. It is very achievable, and trust me on this one-it’s worth the work. It is not just about money. It is about the sense of purpose and fulfillment you feel.
It is about meeting some of your wants and not just your needs…and those of your children too. The gift to your surprised yet elated husband. The ice cream for your excited children and the family trips you can plan. It is about being a blessing to those around you. So for the African Woman seeking financial independence: Go for it!
When you were a child, and knew yourself only as a human being before society carved out roles and expectations for you.
You had a dream. Achieve it!
Look at it this way: In achieving financial independence, others a blessed more than you are. Love your community enough to choose to do the work it takes to be a blessing to them. Crawl and cry if you have to.
Just go out there and aim for the top!
You can find out more at mobolanleoshin.com.ng.
– Ivery Arie