Maryam Baba Mohammed is a business woman, champion for women empowerment, nurse and also a book reviewer. In this interview, Maryam, who was born in Bukuru, Jos South LGA of Plateau State, explains how she joggles everything including her career and business.
Tell us briefly about yourself and what you do?
I was born and brought up in Bukuru, Jos South LGA of Plateau State. I started my medical education in Sudan, and then attended FCT School of Nursing Gwagwalada, Abuja. And because of the activism I do, I have attended a lot of conferences and trainings on conflict resolution, women/gender emancipation and girl-child development in Tanzania, Sudan, Namibia, UAE, and also in several states in Nigeria, including Abuja, Kaduna, Jos, Kano and Sokoto.
I am the CEO BB’s Fura da Nono. I am the chairperson of Women in Leadership Initiative, a non-governmental organisation that caters for women and girl-child. I am also a book reviewer, a mentor and a motivational speaker.
I am a serial entrepreneur. I always love to solve societal problems.
I started my Fura da Nono business because I believe there are people like me looking for pure natural ‘kindirmo’ (yoghurt) and from a hygienically trusted source, so I took up the opportunity.
What makes your fura da nono special?
My products are natural. I make my yoghurt from pure cow milk known as kindirmo and the fura, is made from millet or sweet potatoes. I don’t trust the ones made by the roadside vendors and malls in Abuja as they put different additives, like powdered milk, flour etc to it which is not healthy.
I decided to expand my business to the three states – Jos, Abuja and Kaduna – with the hope that the business will grow to other states in the future.
How much was your starting capital?
The good thing about small start-ups is that with very little one can start the business. I started with N10,000. I wasn’t waiting until I had so much money to start big. I have always known I would start small and invest more as the business progresses.
The capital came from my other businesses and I chose to dedicate the profit of this business to the empowerment of women and the girl-child. So all profit from fura da nono goes to Women in Leadership Initiative I earlier mentioned.
How lucrative is the business?
It is very lucrative. Especially now that we do make customized BB’s fura da nono for events like graduations, naming ceremonies, coronations, weddings, appointments and meetings, the turnover depends on the orders we get. So 25 litres can give us a profit of N5,000 to N7,000.
How do you advertise your products and have you employed anyone at the moment?
We sell them at selected shops. I also try to advertise using the different social media platforms I am in. I have seven people working for me and when we have large orders, I employ local staff because delivery service is very important. My mum is the overall manager.
What major challenge do you face?
Power supply has been my greatest challenge as we have freezers to keep our product chilled but power is just unreliable in this country. I have also trained some people to run the business in other parts of the country but they instead spend the capital. It has been very challenging.
What advice will you give women starting business like you?
Start small, any business idea you have, explore it. Don’t wait to gather a lot of money. Perseverance and focus will keep you going and do not relent, it may not be rosy in the initial stage but after a while it will pick up. Sometimes it takes long before I get orders. And sometimes it even takes a longer time before I sell the ones stocked. But when the orders begin to come they come in bulk and that makes it worthwhile.
Why do you think women should embrace leadership roles?
Women leaders bring something different to the table. We have been known for our transformative leadership styles which are in line with qualities such as empathy, inclusiveness and an open negotiation style. When mothers take leadership roles, young girls see that and can believe that anything is possible and the sky is the limit.
Our organisation tries to encourage women to be more confident in their work because research has shown that women at work suffer from lack of confidence not incompetency. We try to encourage them to be knowledgeable about what businesses or fields they are entering, because only that will help boost their confidence and make them excel.