Khairat Ibrahim is a young entrepreneur, making shoes in Kano. She went into the business because of her passion for shoemaking and to build a brand. She says with hard work, patience and determination, any entrepreneur can build a brand.
Why did you choose this business?
I love the trade and the competition in it, especially for me as a woman.
How did you get funds to start the business?
My mum gave me some money for materials and I started making shoes. I and my family members started advertising the shoes and then it went viral and people started ordering. My mother and other family members assisted me a lot.
Did you receive any formal training in shoemaking?
Yes, I went to three different schools. I went to a school at Kofar Wambai market where I learnt how to make female shoes. Then, I went to another where I learnt to make both male and female shoes for one year and then I went to Saint Michael Group of Companies in ABUJA, where I was trained for three months.
At what stage did you know you were going to become an entrepreneur?
Hmm, can I say when I was a baby? I started doing business while in primary school, each time they gave us biscuits at home when going to school, I sold mine and kept the money. I did that continuously until my JSS 1 that’s when I started selling tigernut. Though I faced challenges because it was against the rule of the school but I couldn’t stay idle.
What advice do you have for other young entrepreneurs?
They should stand on their feet; they should not wait for government to provide job for them. They have the potential in them and, they should know that you can’t be successful at once, so they should be patient and keep on moving.
How many people have your trained on this job?
I have trained 10 people so far and I know, Insha Allah, this year I will train more.
What is the process of making some of your products?
First, I go to the market and buy materials, like the leather, soles and so on. Cut out the design of the shoe I want and then make it.
How long does it take you to make one shoe?
For me, 2 hours only.
Who are your target markets?
I make any kind of shoes, (male, female and children’s), my targeted customers are everyone around the world.
What are the challenges you face doing this business and how can government help you?
I want to open a factory and school that people, especially women can come and learn and also have something doing, it will be a great honour if the government can invest in that.
How is the patronage for your products? Would you say Nigerians are buying more of made in Nigeria products like yours?
Yes, they are and I am so grateful. Alhamdulillah, so far people are acknowledging my products. Nigerians are buying made in Nigeria products but most don’t value the product, they feel if it’s made in Nigeria then it must be cheap but they can buy expensive things if they are imported.
What key things have you learnt in doing business?
Good quality products, consistency and good customer service are key to growing the business and making money.
What five things do start-up entrepreneurs need to know?
Pick a name for your brand, read a lot of books so as to get good grasp on marketing strategies, be self-disciplined, realistic and take calculated risks.
How has technology enhanced your business?
Technology has enhanced my business in many ways, especially by using the social media. Social media has connected me with many entrepreneurs with great minds.
What is the secret of a successful business?
The secrets of a successful business are hard work, focus and being passionate about what you are doing. Also being patient.
What advice do you have for other women?
There is nothing they cannot do; they just have to step out of their comfort zone.
Where do you see your business in the next five years?
In five years, my brand will be able to produce thousands of shoes weekly and will have many investors.