Jamilu Abdussalam, the Chief Executive Officer of Hajaj Fresh, is a young entrepreneur whose chain of success stories saw him through co-founding over 6 successful business outlets across Nigeria. Jamilu, a graduate of Mass communication from the Bayero University Kano, talks about the non-existing white collar jobs in Nigeria and the fulfillment of being self-reliant. Excerpts
Daily Trust: Tell us a little about yourself
Jamilu Abdussalam: I was born 34 years ago. I did my primary school in Tarauni Primary School from 1990 to 1995; attended Government Secondary School Tarauni from 1995 to 2000 and then got admission into College of Arts and Remedial Studies (CAS), then Bayero University, where I obtained my first degree in Mass Communication. I did my second degree in BUK and obtained my third degree from Arden University UK in 2016-2017. I worked in a bank for about three years before resigning and starting up my own business.
DT: Why starting a private business?
Abdussalam: All these while, my intent in life was to be self-reliant; I took the banking job to groom myself in business discipline and other necessary skills needed to start a personal venture. The first venture I started was a delivery company in Kano because I observed that due to time constraint, a lot of people cannot go to the market to pick up what they need, so we decided to use the opportunity to develop the system of just a phone call, specifications and it will be delivered to you. After a few months, I got some partners in Abuja and we expanded the company’s activities to cover Abuja as well.
However, few months into the expanded venture, I participated in the Federal Government’s YouWin empowerment project and I was lucky to win N10 million in its maiden edition; that was where the journey to my business stories all started. With the proceeds, I started a poultry farm and animal fattening business in Kano; we began processing chickens, eggs and beef. Along the line, we encountered some problems with our vendors and we came up with an initiative of operating outlets where we deal with customers directly.
With rapid growth experienced in our business, we decided to merge our various outlets to form one business entity under one venture name ‘Hajaj Fresh’. It was like a farmhouse selling point and along the line; we developed the idea of processing, packaging and distribution of our perishable items nationwide. I am glad to state here that, our product is virtually in every major super market in Nigeria.
DT: What would you say is your greatest achievement as an entrepreneur and business strategists?
Abdussalam: First of all, white collar job has never been an option for me, which is why I kept exploring all possible business avenues and believe me, it has been worth doing.
Secondly, we observed the Kano State textile market, and through my consultant firm, I was able to change the trend obtainable in Kantin Kwari Textile Market. We changed their obsolete accounting system to a modern accounting system which has improved their businesses.
I am also behind the establishment of Northflix – an internet movie streaming app and I am the cofounder of Smart Save Integrated Technologies Ltd, owners of Saveme.ng; a partner and Director Constrix Real Estate Development Ltd, among other businesses.
DT: How do you manage all these alone?
Abdussalam: It is not easy, but I am not alone. I am like a general overseer, which has accorded me the chance to socialize and do games as well. I also do some voluntary lecturing on entrepreneur at the BUK.
DT: What is your view on white collar job seeking?
Abdussalam: I think it is time for the authorities concerned to wake up. I know that lots of efforts are being made to include arts and craft in primary and secondary schools curriculum; entrepreneurship in tertiary institutions but still there is the need to do more. The issue goes beyond theoretical if the desired result is to be achieved.