Shoemaking business thrives more in the hands of men in Benue State because the female folks rarely engage themselves in the venture.
But Bridget Ayongo, 39, is setting the pace for female entrepreneurship in Makurdi metropolis of Benue State.
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Her adventure into the world of shoemaking often referred to as an exclusive of the male’s folk remains indeed an example of triumphs over unnecessary dependency on men by womenfolk.
The mother of two beautiful girls and an unemployed husband told our correspondent in an interview that she isn’t just in the business for the financial benefits but to create an identity and to pass on knowledge to others while contributing her quota to societal development.
Ayongo, who had been into shoemaking for four years now, said she was trained by one, Mr Akamiyon for over 12 months to become an expert in the art.
She shortly afterward, opened her own shop with a starting capital of N5, 000.
The space for the initial take-off, which she is still using, was hired for N18,000 per annum while she built a makeshift shade to accommodate her work implements as well as the apprentice section.
Ayongo added that, though the business has been profitable, however under the COVID-19 there isn’t much of gain in it even as her major challenge hinges on adequate capital to expand the venture.
“Yes. I make all the shoes you see here, and I repair bad ones as well. I make a minimum profit of N 2,000 per day. But these days, I don’t make much at all due to COVID-19 economic realities.
“Those who would want to patronise me could no longer afford to do so because there is a shift in priority. They would rather spend such money on family maintenance,” she said.
For the mother of two, tailoring was her vocation before a male family friend introduced her to the shoemaking business.
“And it (shoemaking) has more gain than the tailoring I was doing before. I manage only this shoemaking business for now. I don’t want to combine it with tailoring, so I can be more focused and train others on the job,” she added.
Apart from the satisfaction derived from shoemaking, Ayongo, fends for her family from the proceeds garnered from the business since her husband, who loves what she is doing, lost his job.
The female cobbler emphasised the usage of durable materials if one must become a good shoemaker, adding that she pays attention to designs that would feel comfortable on the feet of both genders.
Ayongo, however, has a big plan to expand the business beyond where it is currently so that she can employ more hands, train more people and create an industry that would even boost revenue generation for the state government.
The only change in her estimation, for now, is that “I don’t have the money to expand it the way I dream it to be.”