By Victoria Onehi
Getting loan is an issue, why do you think some business women find it difficult to access loan?
Sadly, when people say they have not been able to access loan, sometimes they are not qualified to get the loan. People have to look inwards to see if they qualify to get loans.
Again, some of them don’t even need loans because they have not done the ground work they need to do. Some of them, the money they think they need as loan, they already have but they didn’t look in that direction. So you have to look at yourself first. There are some things we have that we don’t need. If we sell such things we can get some money or do barter.
But ultimately there will be a time you need a loan, may be to expand your business. But then there are some qualifications you must have. You can be asked what is your bank statement, what are your business goals and your business plan; how sellable is your idea, product or service. There has to be some evidence that you are interested and serious. And evidence that your sweat and money is in that thing. Not that you want to start business, and you want me (my bank) to give you loan to start but you have no idea how the business works.
There was a lady that came to me. She wanted me to give her a certain amount of money. So I asked her, ‘Have you done this business before? She said no. She wanted to go and learn. She wanted my money to go and learn! I told her, that is not how we do business. When you start with your working capital and see how it works, I will give you the loan. You must be qualified to get a loan.
We must know that the business is sustainable; it is sellable, because what is the point, giving you money today, and tomorrow, you can no longer sell because your product is not acceptable.
Do you have the character of someone who will pay? Are you credible, what does the bank statement say; what is your turnover? Are you someone who will sell and pocket the money? Your level of discipline has to be looked at. We at the microfinance bank don’t go into much theory; we go to the market and see exactly what you have on the ground. We look at the trend; how customers come into your business, all of those things add up. You must have a business that looks good.
What other avenues do you think women can explore to get finance?
Why don’t you collaborate? Why don’t you have alliances; why don’t you work with people? Some people have the money but are not ready to do the business, why don’t you talk to them and see if you can have partnerships, so you can do business and it will be at more friendly terms. Remember that a loan is not free, it’s given with interest. So why will you want to take loan when you can work with someone? And then you can ask your parents, family and friends but you have to be careful that you don’t put undue burden on them.
What are the key qualities you think an entrepreneur should have?
An entrepreneur is an all-rounder; aside being curious, and seeing opportunities and taking them immediately, an entrepreneur is one who should take action immediately. When you go for trainings, seminars, take action. Make mistakes, fall, stand up, go ahead and do it. Acquire new skills. You need new skills to improve on what you have. Some of us have businesses that we can leverage on. We may be looking in one direction, but trainings open our eyes to bigger opportunities. Even your existing business can give you more streams of income but because you have not been looking, you have not seen. So, improve your skills.
What skills do you think women need to become more entrepreneurial?
First of all, it has to do with their mindset. The mindset that most women have has not really helped. They have been locked in and they are still there, so even if someone gives you 20 ways of doing things, if your mindset does not allow you to break out of that self-centeredness and accept the reality of what your potential, then nothing else will work.
There are so many opportunities available to us but we are not taking them, may be because we are women but the society has accepted us as partners in progress. Nigeria cannot be a big economy with half of the population being women and we are not participating as we ought to.
I encourage more women to come out; the business world is open to them. Women have the advantage of being intuitive. Businesses tend to succeed well when they put their mind to it. You don’t come to a business with half of your mind. Come when you are fully ready. The intuition women have gives them an advantage.
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