Aisha Ibrahim Kuchi is a young entrepreneur and CEO of HAKIMA INTERGRATED CONCEPT in Minna, Niger State. TMG recently caught up with Aisha after the first round of free skills acquisition programme she organised for women and youths. She says: “It’s all about giving back to society”.
TMG> Tell us briefly about yourself:
I studied Business Entrepreneurship in NOUN, I am an entrepreneur and also run an NGO called HAKIMA EMPOWERMENT CENTRE, where we give women, children including youths free training in various skills. I am happily married with children.
TMG> How did you begin your business? Did you have the idea for a while before starting?
Aisha> I have always been a business-minded person, way back in my senior year of secondary school I started a business with a little capital.
TMG> What were your customers’ initial response to your products? Was it positive/negative and did you have to make any improvements along the way?
Aisha> My customers’ response to my products was positive. And yes, over some time I improved on my branding.
TMG> Did you take any courses to learn about this venture?
Aisha> Yes I did. I took a course in confectionery making about 5 years ago and I’m also currently in College of Education, Minna taking a course in Home Economics.
TMG> Can you explain what drives you to choose the products that will move fast; customer’s suggestions, market survey or experiments?
Aisha> I always look at what products move fast and also take my customers suggestions into consideration. Of course, I also do my market survey.
TMG> What is your favorite product? Why?
Aisha> My favorite are my shoes and bags. We use pure skin for production and the materials are gotten in our local market here. I don’t need to travel out of the country to get the materials.
TMG> What are the risks involved in this business and can you share tips for maintaining top quality products?
Aisha> In every business there are always risks but as a business person you just have to face whatever the outcome is. Just give your best in whatever you are producing and timing matters too. You should also give your products a very good branding.
TMG> How accessible are the raw materials you need?
Aisha> We get our materials right here in Minna and we can get them all season.
TMG> How do you ensure your products stand out from others in terms of quality, packaging, etc?
Aisha> I try my best to give our customers what they ask for and by doing that, I give them the best quality and I don’t compromise. I ensure that only the best materials are used for production.
TMG> Are they factory produced goods and how have you been affected by challenges of running a factory?
Aisha> Yes, they are small factory goods and so far I haven’t faced any challenges.
TMG> How many employees report to you?
Aisha> I have 33 employees but in future I intend employing more.
TMG> You recently organised a training workshop where different skills were taught. What informed this, what was the response and do you plan on doing it again?
Aisha> Yes I did. I wanted to give back to the society because I believe you don’t have to have all the money in this world before helping the less privileged. We are undergoing a free training for 820 youth, children and especially women with the first batch rounding up soon. In shaa Allah, we intend to have more in future.
TMG> It must cost a lot to give skills training for free without sponsorship. How is the NGO funded?
Aisha> I use some of the profit from my business to fund the NGO.
TMG> Tell us about an accomplishment that you are most proud of in your career.
Aisha> I haven’t accomplished anything thing yet until I see the poverty level has dropped drastically within my community. That’s when I can say I have accomplished something in my career.
TMG> Tell us about your management style and how you handle customers.
Aisha> I give my staff the room to express themselves; I make them feel like I’m their big sister so with that, they give me the best. I place priority on my customers and give them exactly what they request for.
TMG> Tell us 3 things you consider to be your strengths.
Aisha> 1.God 2.My husband 3.My family.
TMG> Is there anything you would like to learn or improve upon?
Aisha> I’d like to learn how to improve on the quality of my products.
TMG> With government jobs becoming fewer and unemployment on the rise, how would you encourage youths to become self-reliant?
Aisha> By learning vocational skills in addition to getting good education.
TMG> Where do you see your enterprise in the next few years?
Aisha > I see it attaining unimaginable heights INSHA ALLAH
TMG> A lot of people are going into vocational training now but there isn’t enough focus on it. How would you advise the government to establish more vocational schools in Nigeria?
Aisha> I would advise the government to introduce vocational technical education (VTE) to primary,secondary and higher institutions for those that didn’t have the opportunity of passing through a formal education, also to provide them with starter packs to help them kick start their own businesses.
TMG> What skills are being taught and which ones are most popular?
Aisha> We train children, youths and women in: cake baking and confectionery, shoe/slippers making, make up, bags, bed sheet/ throw pillows, liquid soap, disinfectant and room freshener, perfume and body splash, events decoration, satellite dish and CCTV installation, bead making, tailoring, Adire making, bridal hand fans and so much more.
The popular classes people are enrolling for are: Confectioneries, bed sheet and throw pillows making, makeup and also perfume and local humra making.
TMG> What do you do in your free time?
Aisha> I spend it with my family and friends.