Hajiya Farida Musa Kalla is the CEO of FMK Clothing in Kano State. In this interview, she shares on how she ventured into business noting that women need to be courageous and determined to start a business.
Why did you choose to venture into business?
Actually business is not what I wanted to do; it only came my way by chance. Like every student, I had the ambition to study further and get a white collar job, but as God destined it, I got married to a businessman. I started selling things while in school at Bayero University Kano (BUK).
My husband used to give me some veils which I sold to my friends and relatives. But you know how such business is, people will buy things but don’t want to pay, so I found it difficult to recover my money. At that time it reached the point that I wanted to quit but my husband encouraged me to continue. So, I continue up to my NYSC days at Orthopaedic Hospital Dala. From there I started selling wrappers to my colleagues, so at the end of the month, I would retrieve my money from them.
How did you get capital to start the business?
When I was studying at Bayero University, my mum gave me N600,000 to purchase a car which I could use for my school runs, because at that time I had already given birth and I was going to school in commercial vehicles. My husband did not like the idea of buying a car then so he advised me to deposit the money in the bank. So, when I started selling some wrappers he advised me to use that money to buy wrappers from India. When I started selling Indian wrappers, the business boomed and expanded. Then, I used to collect some stock from a dealer in another market, but I started placing order to manufacturers in India and China on my own.
I opened a shop in my matrimonial home and today I have three other shops at the popular Kantin Kwari market.
What are the challenges you faced doing business?
I cannot say there were no challenges at all but Alhamdulillah. The only challenge is how some of my customers behave in terms of paying for goods they collect especially those that have shops in the market. But for managing the affairs of my shops, that is not challenging, as we have a software that eases everything. The software also connects all the shops. For instance, if a single item is sold in one shop, the other shops would be aware of the transaction. So with the help of the software I can trace all items in the shops.
What is the secret of successful business?
Consistency, patience and bringing quality products to the customers as this will make them to stay with you and have confidence in the things you sell. Also, if you employ staff, make sure you pay them on time and be nice to them, this will also help you to succeed.
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
The number one is to put Almighty Allah first in everything no matter how small. Second, is to be patient and stay focused, as this is what keeps a business running with ideas and innovations. You know, even for the things we sell, we create the design we want – I mean what we believe our customers want – and send them to the manufacturers abroad to produce.
What is your educational background?
I attended Kano Model Special Primary School. I did my secondary education at St Louise Secondary School, Kano. When I was in SS3 I was transferred to Crescent Secondary School where I finished in 2006. I got married same year. In 2007 I secured admission to Bayero University Kano where I obtained a diploma in Banking and Finance. Thereafter I proceeded for my BSc Economics. I did my NYSC at the National Orthopaedic Hospital Dala, Kano.