Chika got her footwear making skills during the annual mandatory National Youth Service Program in 2012. She has since used her work at NCR Design Shoemaking School to improve the lives of women and youths in Nigeria by enabling them to produce and export standard footwear products through training, job matching opportunities, mentoring, and access to quality and affordable raw materials.
In 2017, Chika participated in the YouWin (Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria) scheme, an initiative that finances outstanding business plans for the young, aspiring entrepreneurs in Nigeria. In 2019, she emerged among the top 100 semi-finalists in the Access Bank Womenpreneur pitch-a-ton competition. In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a lockdown and restriction of movements and social distancing, as well as an economic recession that resulted in loss of jobs, hunger and insecurity, Chika took to training 36 students (2 students each month) in the art of footwear making for free. She organized virtual meetings to speak on the importance of vocational skills and handiwork in these days of uncertainty when nothing is sure, with regards to securing a good job.
Chika also recently got shortlisted as one of the top 20 female entrepreneurs to participate in the She Leads Africa High Growth Coaching program. She is a member of the Bell-Africana community, YALI West Africa, She Leads Africa, and currently signed up for Female & More Africa in collaboration with Ford Foundation. Her designs have been featured in publications, and have been worn and commended by reputable icons.
Since the incorporation of NCR Design in 2018, Chika has through the business provided the needed skills that have pulled 1000 beneficiaries of the footwear making programs out of poverty and given them a new lease of life. Chika is working towards expanding the business to accommodate varieties of courses to enable the participants to opt for the one that suits them best.
What inspires Chika the most is her desire to help others by using her business to provide jobs for those with special needs. All I have ever wanted to do in my life is to help people especially women who do not even know why they are suffering, who are denied access to quality of life, who are willing to work to get those two pieces of bread for themselves and their families, who should not suffer.
She draws inspiration from the hardships of these people, to work her way out somewhere through which she can really help them.
They provide students with enough training skills and support that will enable them to establish a career in small and medium size businesses. NCR Design provides mentorship and internship opportunities, free accommodation and makes its training facility, tools, and equipment available to students who completed their training in the school.
Chika does not come from an entrepreneurial background, and her parents are disappointed chose Shoemaking over Medicine, Engineering, Law etc. In her own words, “I wanted to create value with something that I was passionate about. I have always loved shoes but became increasingly interested in shoes when I joined shoemaking CDS group during my days as a Youth Corp member in 2012. I started to dig deep into the art of shoemaking, read about master shoemakers, the business of shoemaking, its rewards, the challenges, and opportunities… just everything about it. It was fascinating to say the least. It had never occurred to me that I could make a living out of it because interestingly, I am a graduate of Soil Science so academically, nothing really linked to the career I have now. But growing up I loved making things. I loved art. I loved creating, but somehow had forgotten about it during my years as a student. My joining the shoemaking CDS group made me remember how much I loved crafts.”
What gives Chika the most satisfaction as an entrepreneur is knowing that she is contributing to something larger than herself. That I am solving problems and bringing a product and service to the world that people need.
Chika says to young women, “You can be anything and everything you set your mind to, with the right amount of ambition, commitment, dedication and of course, hard work – you will do it. First things first, you need to realize what that best version of yourself looks like. What does this woman look like to you? Who is she? What does she do? Did she build a business from the ground up? Or is she an amazing advocate for female empowerment? There are certain questions you must ask yourself to get to know yourself. Figure out her traits and see how many of them you have yourself. Chances are, you have a lot more in common than you may have originally thought. The only differences might be that this woman is recognized for her work and gets to do it on a larger scale. That is how you need to figure out how you can take the next step.It is all about your mindsets and reprogramming your mind for success. The women we admire and look up to and aspire to be all each have different mindsets.”