Mahmud Bashir Ahmad is the Chief Executive Officer of ArewaWears, a clothing line in Minna, Niger state capital. In this interview, the graduate of Computer Science from Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University, Lapai (IBBUL) shares tales of his early start.
What’s the story behind creating your venture?
ArewaWears is my project. I am actually eating from my final year project. I started ArewaWears with N2,500 that I borrowed from my elder sis when I first made a post and a customer saw the cloth and he picked interest in the cloth. But guess what, my first client had issues as he didn’t trust me to send me his money for the cloth and I don’t trust him to send him cloth without seeing my money.
I wasted that cloth and there was no money to pay my sister her money that I borrowed. So I lost the client and business and I have to pay my sister. I just went home and slept in anger and I said to myself I will do it again. So I took the risk and began massive media campaigns for myself.
What challenges did you encounter while starting up?
Challenges I encountered while growing the business was basically finance; nobody was willing to give me a loan. Not my family members, no bank. So basically it’s finance. That’s our bigger challenge if the government can help us with finance we don’t need to look for white collar jobs.
What have you done differently from others?
Among my peers, I am the first company to send goods to customers free of charge. I created the free delivery service for my products within Nigeria as an incentive to encourage patronage.
My packaging is also unique. There was this day I took clothes to a customer and he tried it, he removed his clothes to put mine. I noticed his singlet was dirty and so since then, I began to add singlet to my products that are worth N10,000 and above. We have reviewed this and now add singlet to products above N30,000.
How many persons has the business engaged?
Now my project has employed at least 10 staff and many apprentices. As for me I have created a job I don’t need to suffer myself to work for the government. I am my own government.
On the sustainability outlook, how would you expand the business in the next five years?
The Business has engaged more than 30 people and we are planning to open a branch in Kebbi state. With more capital, my plans are to open branches in Abuja, Lagos, Kano, Kaduna and Delta state.
Is there any profiteering in this venture?
Yes it’s profiting. Entrepreneurship is the only way out of our problem in the country.
What is your advice to Nigerian youths on finding prospects in entrepreneurship?
They must be consistent in their doings. Loss is a constant disappointment but you must move on by not allowing those things to weigh you down.