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‘Situation turned me into a bag maker’ -Graduate

Tell us about yourselfMy name is Abdulrahaman Ibrahim and I am an indigene of Kaduna State. I obtained a diploma certificate in Electrical Engineering from…

Tell us about yourself
My name is Abdulrahaman Ibrahim and I am an indigene of Kaduna State. I obtained a diploma certificate in Electrical Engineering from Staff Technical Training Institute, Ministry of Works Kaduna State in 2008 but I am presently into hand bag business. I sew varieties of hand bags for souvenirs.
What was your dream while in school and why did you change your mind and decide to be self employed?
Well, my dream while in school was to become an electrical engineer. I attended Technical School for my secondary education, so I had always wanted to be an electrical engineer. I actually did not change my mind but situation turned me into a bag maker. It is better than staying idle or jobless. I also need to engage myself in productive activities so that I will be able to raise money to further my education. I decided to build a career in bag making because I have passion for it. As much as I love engineering, the truth remains that there are no jobs out there, so I need to get myself on my feet with what I know how to do with my hands.
What made me interested in bag business is that it makes it possible for people to benefit from me much more than if I was an electrical engineer. I love to see people benefiting from me. I cannot count the number of people that have learnt this business from me and are now on their own. I have also trained a full class of women in a school on bag making and they are all doing well on their own now.
So how did you learn to make bags?
I pick the idea of bag making from my elder brother who used to sew bags; I did not really sit down to learn. I used to watch him sew different kind of bags and one day, I decided to give it a trial and since then, I have been sewing. I started with purse and later went online to check different designs of bags and purses that can be used for souvenirs. Now I don’t only sew hand bags and purses, I also sew travel bags, school bags and market bags. This work has a lot to do with creativity because you may see someone with a bag and you decide to make the type but in the course of making it, you may add your own innovation to the bag and make it more beautiful than the one you saw.
What does it take to start your kind of business?
I started with only women purse and gradually I began to get contract for wedding souvenirs; I started with about N5, 000 but then I already had the sewing machine, so the money was just to buy materials that will make at least 50pieces of purses. There are different designs of purses and their costs vary depending on the design and materials used. We have purse from N50 to N800. The business is seasonal, we make brisk business during wedding periods when people demand for bags for souvenir; the business is lucrative if you are creative. I make hand bags and school bags for people who resell in the market and because of that, I work round the clock to meet demand.
Where do you get materials you use for making the bags?
I buy materials from Kaduna Central market but with time I intend to start buying from Lagos and subsequently abroad. The quality of the material determines its price; there are plain and flower materials, there are materials as cheap as N250 per yard while there are the expensive ones too. Sometimes I can make two bags from one yard of material depending on the size of the bag and there are also other materials including Makutu, stock used for finishing of the bags.
How do you sell the bags?
Well it depends on the design, the material used, size and time taken to make the bag. I have bags of N1, 000, N1, 500 and even above. There are bags that cost N5, 000 and even N8, 000 depending on the factors I mentioned earlier.
What is the major challenge of the business?
The major challenge is capital to transform business into a large scale one. Since it is a seasonal business, I need capital to buy material in bulk and make different kinds of bags ahead of the season when demand for them become high.
Do you have people working with you or how do you cope with high demand for bags?
I have more than five people who work for me and I pay them commission based on the work they do. Apart from that, I also take some work to other colleagues in the business when work becomes too much for me and my workers.
Are you still nursing your dream of becoming an engineer?
Yes, I am seriously nursing the dream of becoming an electrical engineer but even if I become a competent engineer, I will still sew bags because I love to do it; so whatever work I am doing, I will still sew bags.
As a man, why are you not sewing clothes but bags used by women?
It is very good to identify your talent and pursue it diligently with all passion until you achieve your dreams. I don’t know how to sew clothes; in fact I have never sewn clothes. I just love bags.
What have you been able to achieve through this business?
I have achieved a lot, apart from taking care of myself, I take care of others, I have also become an employer of labour as a result of this business and by the end of this month I will be getting married. I started manual sewing machines but now I have five industrial sewing machines and I bought each of them for about N50, 000. I might not have achieved this even if I had graduated with B.SC because I might still be searching for job.
What is your next line of action in this business?
I desire to expand the business because the shop I am using now is very small and I need a bigger place especially when I start travelling out to get foreign materials. Then I will be making big bags that even the president’s wife can use. I also desire to have a manufacturing company where I can manufacture the bag materials myself.
What is your advice to idle unemployed graduates?
The rate of unemployment in the country is quite alarming and in fact more worrisome when you see a young man doing nothing. The truth is that every human being is blessed with potentials; if only they will discover the potentials embedded in them and start up something for themselves however little, the better.

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