Despite her age, Amina Ibrahim, popularly known as Inna Mai Kosai, has been in the business of selling bean cake for the past 40 years, and still looks strong. She fries the bean cake twice daily – in the morning and evening – in front of her house, around Dutsen Kare kare area, in Anguwan Rogo Community of Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State.
From a business that many may not give a chance Amina has been able to prosper and take good care of herself and her family.
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Amina ventured into the business of selling bean cake even even before she got married, in her home town, Michika, Adamawa State.
Soon after she got married, Amina said she believed that ‘hustling’ would be her major priority in life and that was why when she relocated to Jos with her husband, she didn’t hesitate to start the bean cake business which had helped her own two houses aside taking up other responsibilities.
But the struggle to achieve that according to her had been very hectic as she would often wake up in the middle of the night everyday to start preparations for the day’s business.
“I often wake up as early as 3.30am to start the preparations. Before that time, I would soak the beans in the water. When I wake up, I pound it in the mortar and thereafter take it to a nearby grinding machine operator to grind it.
“I do all these myself. I don’t give someone to do it for me because if you give it to someone, you will be disappointed. I tried severally, and got disappointed. It would have been good to employ the service of another person to help in the process, but it hasn’t been possible because of what I told you. It is not as if I don’t get tired. Of course, I do but I bear it.
“By 7am, I am already set to begin the frying because customers troop in as early as 7.30am to patronise me. I always come out on time because I don’t want to disappoint my customers as they often rely on my bean cake to take their breakfast. With this, I have been able to maintain my customers for many years and that is why you see adults, young boys and girls coming here to buy the bean cake,” Amina explained.
How I manage to save the money
Amina said she didn’t build the houses in a day but took it gradually until the buildings were completed.
“It is not possible for me to build the houses just over night because I am not rich. What I did was that while doing the business, I joined monthly contribution of a group where all members are expected to contribute a particular amount of money everyday. So, whatever, one contributed, at the end of the month, it was given to one. In my own case, whatever I collected at the end of the month, I save it until when the money was reasonable, I then bought a land and started developing it step by step until the house was completed.
“After I packed into the house, I continued with the monthly contribution and some years after, I saved another reasonable amount and bought the second land, built it gradually and rented it out. Even the one I am living in, I rented out some rooms because I can’t occupy all the rooms in the house, “ she added.
Amina further explained that the business had been so helpful to the family such that even when her husband was not around or didn’t have money, she could feed the house before he comes back or gets the money and pay her back, adding that “Now my husband is late, but I am still able to take care of the family.”
“I believe that what I am doing now from the profit of the business is just the will of Allah, because it solves many problems. The business has been helping me a lot,” she said.
When asked if she had trained any of her children or grandchildren to engage in the same business, Amina said “No, I didn’t train any of them because their father didn’t like it even though he allowed me to do the business. Anytime he returns home, he would ask of their whereabouts to ensure that I didn’t send them out to sell anything. He was so watchful that I wouldn’t dare ask them to hawk or sell the bean cake for me. So, to maintain my relationship with him and allow peace to reign, I obeyed him.
“When they grew up, I married them out. Now, none of them is staying with me except my grandsons whom I don’t want to train on same business because the are all males. It is not proper to train male children to hawk or sell something like bean cake. For me, it is a business for women.
“I have seven granddaughters and grandsons who I take care of. I feed and cloth them because their parents are poor and not strong enough to take up such responsibilities. I even married out one of them,” she explained.
My next project is to go Hajj
Amina said after achieving a lot from the business, she wishes to save more money to pay for Hajj. “Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam and I hope to accomplish it before I die. It is not easy to save this huge money, especially now that things are very expensive but in the nearest future, I hope to achieve that. Nothing is impossible.”
Muhammadu Tasi’u, one of Amina’s customers in Anguwan Rogo, said he has been buying her bean cake for more than 15 years, adding that even when she changed locations, he followed her to the new location.
He said, “I have gotten used to her akara over the years because when I was in primary school, our parents used to send us to buy akara from her. Then, if we bought N80 worth of akara, it would be enough for everyone in the family but today, N150 worth of akara won’t be enough for me alone because things are now very expensive. I enjoy her akara, which is why I have continued to patronise her.”
Jamilu Abdullahi, another resident of the area and a regular customer, said he had been patronizing her for more than 20 years.
“I have been buying bean cake from her for the past 20 years. Her akara is unique because she doesn’t mix it with gari or any other thing in order to make more gain. That is why I follow her everywhere she goes. Her akara has a distinct taste,” the customer said.
Amina cannot recall major challenges she had ever faced in the business. “I never encountered any business challenge while growing the business. Instead, I have been progressing. So, I can’t point at any challenge while doing my business. I often have reasonable capital to continue. I remember that when I started the business, I used to buy beans in small measures but now, I buy in bags,” she added.