Why do you choose leather work for business?It was not a choice per se. we were invited by the Kano State government under the Ministry for Women Affairs and Social Development to youth empowerment training where we were trained on shoe making and other skills. We had the training last year and since then I have been building on what I learnt. This is how I come about the leather work business.Being a woman, how are you coping with the business that is male-dominated?I push very well to compete with the men. It is not easy because they have different ways of frustrating our efforts but I’m not relenting.I did not stop at the training given to us by the government. I have made it a duty upon myself to go to Wambai market where the men are making shoes and bags to learn more from them. I refused to be frustrated and that is why I’m making progress in my business.How do you source the materials used in making your products?Everything is available at Wambai market. Though I can make the shoe but because of lack of necessary tools for making and enhancing it, I rely on those at the market to produce. You know before you can become a real shoe maker, you have to have the special sewing machine used for sewing the leather; you have to have the polish machine and the generating set for electricity which is very crucial in producing the shoes and bags. All these I don’t have because I don’t have the fund to buy them. What I do now is to buy the leather, cut it to the desired design then takes it to the market where I pay for the remaining works. So as for the material, they are available at the market, it is only lack of money that is the stumbling block.What about marketing the products?The market is not bad because my shoes and bags are of high quality that is why people go for them. Because of the quality of my products women that buy shoes made from abroad bring it to me for repairs and I assure you that my shoes are of international standard. Despite the general economic problem, I’m making sales from it and with it I’m taking care of my five children who have also leant the leather work from me and together we are progressing in the business.Since you started have you been able to access any fund to support your business?No, I haven’t. That is what I have been looking for. If you go to the commercial banks, they will say you must have collateral and I don’t have. It is due to lack of the fund that I cannot get the sewing machine which is not more than N24, 000, the polish machine which is also not more than N15, 000 and the generating set that is also not very costly. If I can get any assistance to get these vital tools, I assure you that many women will benefit from this business. Even now I have trained some women in the leather work, and if I stand firm on my feet, more will benefit.What is the challenge?The challenge is just about fund, if I can get assistance, my shoes will go international. The other one is the attitude of men towards us but I’m not bothered because we are used to it. I will continue to push to remain afloat in this business.What is your prayer?Government and donor organization should assist us, we that are starting so that we can grow and be big. By so doing, we can also assist others.
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