Hajiya Samira Jibir is a seasoned entrepreneur and founder of the Glisten International Academy, Abuja. Her vast experience in the business-world has made her a mentor and business guide/coach to many female entrepreneurs across the country. Women in Business caught up with her at an event recently where she talked about keys to success in Business.
You have been an entrepreneur for some time; can you share those nuggets that have made you successful?
Before I became an entrepreneur, I was a civil servant; I served in the government for 25 years and retired voluntarily as a Deputy Director.
I would say hard work, integrity, love and care help you succeed as an entrepreneur. Even if the devil is coming to you, when you put on love and care, you have already nailed the devil.
Some women think money is the challenge to starting a business, what do think?
No, as an entrepreneur, you don’t have to be a copycat – looking at what others are doing and flourishing and following suit. Look for the problem; try to make whatever you are doing to solve a problem in the society, to bridge a gap in the society.
I would say start small but dream big. You don’t have to start big. I started the Glisten Academy with 12 children in my school, but today, we are almost a thousand. I started other little businesses like a Gift shop with little money. Initially, I did not have a shop; anywhere there was an exhibition, I went there. Then we got a shop and now series of shops, so I will say start small.
Again, be fair and just to your employees. Because without them, you are not there. If the driver is not there to take you for a business deal, you can fail. If your driver does not drive carefully, your life is endangered. If your secretary does not do what is right, you can make mistakes. They make you who you are. They support you.
Members of staff that started the school with us in 2006 are still with us except two who left recently. When the mood of your staff changes, there must be a problem. Find out what it is; it shows you care.
Be respectful to your staff as well. I tell them, report issues not people. As an employer, my doors are always open. When the students and pupils want to come in, I tell them, allow them because we are here to serve them.
And when you borrow money in business, you should pay back. We borrowed some money while we were building the school but we paid back religiously. And when you do not need a loan, don’t take it. No matter how tempting the offer is.
A lot of people see challenges in business, what do you see?
In life, there are curve balls. God has said, he will test us, he will rock our ships, but they will not sink. So when the curve balls come, you should learn from them. Learn from those mistakes, pick up from there and move on.
You have been in the school business, what do you think people who want to go into this business should look at?
If you want to be in the business of education, you must be an educationist first. You have to learn and know what it entails; you need to know how to take care of the children, because the child is at the centre of any school.
You need to know the procedures, the accreditation processes, the regulating bodies and the curriculum. But let us not deceive ourselves with American Curriculum and UK Curriculum; we are Nigerians. What happens to the Nigerian Curriculum? The world is a global-village; you can use other things to integrate, to make it more robust. But we are Nigerians. Here, we are writing NECO, WAEC and JAMB and so on.
Also, we have to focus less on examination. Because once examination is the focus, there are lots of malpractices. The most important thing is to develop the potentials of your students and maximise their potentials as well.
What message do you have for women on this year’s International Women’s Day?
The message is Each for Equal. But in what terms, already the woman is powerful, beautiful, resilient and courageous. From the bedroom to the boardroom, to taking care of children, what else, does a woman want.
She is beside the successful man; she gives birth to the successful man. What is remaining for women to make Each for Equal is to help one another, build one another, impact on one another, and take that role of motherhood and as a nation builder.
For women who want to attain your height in business, what advice do you have for them?
Trust God and fear God. Be just. Take care of your home front. It is very important. Respect that man. He is your father, your brother and your friend, your partner and your lover. Ensure that you do your responsibility at home. The wheel is difficult when you want to balance it. But first of all, know that you are a mother, a nation builder.