empowering woman


My first Economics class enlightened me on the difference(s) between human needs versus human wants and how humans can be quite insatiable. So, in order to effectively manage human resources to fit perfectly into these needs, it becomes necessary to draw a scale of preference and know opportunity costs to avoid frivolous spending.

Economics was no doubt one of my favourite subjects in Secondary School inasmuch as Mr Oyakhire made it seem cloudy and boring as more than half of the class were usually long gone in the dream world. The interest amazes me till date.

Some days back after close of work, my colleagues and I got talking on priorities. The topic basically centred on how we can’t make choices or ‘’help’’ people with their choices because choices and priorities will forever remain relative. Thankfully, parents are beginning to get the drift that they can’t force their choices on kids anymore.

Eventually, we all have to make various choices but with some wisdom. There’s nothing logical in a grown man putting his life savings towards the completion of the house his late father left behind in a village when he clearly has no investment in the city he lives in when as a matter of fact, he squats with his newly engaged fiancée and younger sister since he got fired from his banking job.

I also find it ridiculous about the struggle that goes in traveling habrod to have kids with no specific provisions of accommodation, hospital bills and other necessities. Or what do you think about someone who sold some valuables just to attain a Toyota Avalon? His priority, right?

You see, everyone suffers from setting wrong priorities ranging from work relationships, family relationship, boy-girl relationships, etc. Our government is not left out considering how well they concentrate more on unimportant and irrelevant issues rather than work towards the growth of the country.

Remember how long the government played well in the ‘’blame game’’? The constant disapproval and criticism of the past administration? Ok, we know the past administration must have gone a little over the top in misappropriation of bills but can we move on to more pressing issues in the country?

Personally, I think when humans devise means of setting right priorities, more than half of the problems will be solved

Now, we all tend to think increase in salaries automatically solves or accommodate all of our excesses. WRONG! An increment only increases and widens your taste. That’s when our taste buds yearns for rather expensive stuff and we think we’ve finally ‘’arrived’’. It’s not evil to spoil oneself with the good things of life, abi who no like good tin?

According to an Emotional Intelligence Speaker, you can’t manage your huge resources if you do not manage your little resources effectively. It’s no magic. That is practically the period you increase your general taste in fashion, feeding, location, school for kids and many more, to compete with people who can afford these luxuries in a snap. You go as far as going on expensive vacays when your bank account is crying. Some might even get carried away with little or nothing to show for after years of service.

Humans generally want to ‘’belong’’. Just as a peacock displays its beautiful tail, humans want to show off the newly acquired item to fit into their social cycle. Like it or not, adults get intimidated from time to time which eventually leads to esteem issues especially when an adult lacks the discipline to say NO to unnecessary expenses.

Discipline goes a long way to setting right priorities. Discipline shapes characters which is an important ingredient in saving for rainy days. You don’t have to be ashamed to tell your wealthy friends that you can’t afford a luxurious Abu Dhabi vacation. Real friends consider each other’s pocket in initiation of fun.

In one of Uncle Joro’s numerous letters of lamentation, a lady kept grumbling about her friend’s selfish wedding plans. This friend wanted her friends to look ‘’foreign’’ (esteem issues) by getting blue eye contacts and buying some floor-sweeping human hair. She also wanted them to buy red-bottom shoes. The estimate for these according to the grumbling lady was about 150-200k. All for Bellanaija.

If you can afford this for a friend’s wedding, spend your savings on it by all means. You’re an OBO and also ‘’self-made’’ after all. Lord knows I desire the good and beautiful things of life but I know the material I have. So I cut my style according to my available material, knowing that in HIS time, all things shall be beautiful.

Patience is all that requires to bridle your taste buds. Oh ye taste buds, you will get satisfied only with the available foods. You’ll get all that you want, all that you desire in good time.

I’d love to know how you’ve managed with your yards of material to fit your size. How do you set your priorities? What expense has cost almost your arm and leg?

By : Olwaseyi Efuntoye

Email : sefuntoye@gmail.com

Instagram : @seyyi_

Oshione Igwonobe resigned from her day job to start making pure juices using her mother’s blender. She moved from making juices in her mother’s kitchen to start her own brand; The JuiceLady , where fresh juices with no concentrates, preservatives, sugars or sweeteners, are produced, a business she started at a local Buka and at some point she and her team hawked the products just to make sales, today Igwonobe supplies big malls and outlets across Lagos. She shares her inspiring story in this interview.

My upbringing played a large role in my line of work. Growing up, my mother always sought to experiment with our meals introducing different healthy options. As kids, we’d grumble and complain but she created delicious recipes we all loved eventually. Baking and juicing were regular practices in our home and I took after that. After quitting my day job in 2009, I experimented with cooking healthy meals and preparing juices, supplying offices in my neighbourhood. After a few months I realized I would have to focus on one aspect as I didn’t have the resources to grow both aspects of the business. I stopped catering and focused solely on making juices using my mother’s blender in her kitchen. At the time it was pretty small scale but I’ve been able to grow it significantly.

Meet Me
My name is Oshione Igwonobe and I am the Juice Lady. I am from Edo state; the first child from a family of six (6). Most of my formative years were in Warri then my family moved to Lagos in 1997 where I continued my Senior Secondary School and University. I’m quite passionate about healthy living, I absolutely love food, traveling and adventures. I produce 100% fresh fruit juices under the brand The JuiceLady. Our juices are fresh, not from concentrates, no preservatives;, no sugars or sweeteners. Simply no additives: just juice.

My YOUWIN Grant Experience
It was an enlightening experience really. Beyond the grant, I gained a deeper appreciation of the business. We passed through intensive business training sessions organized by the Enterprise Development Center (EDC) and participated in the Youth Enterprise with Innovation Program and these training have helped me move the business forward. The people I met at the time also increased my network; I keep in touch with them today and I’ve done business with a number of them. YOUWIN boasted a number of innovative people and it was a creative space where you could tap off the energies of other brilliant minds. So yes, I had a great experience.

It’s been interesting. Starting off wasn’t easy. When I decided I was going to focus solely on juices, opportunity came in the form of The Lagos Carnival and I thought, here’s a huge crowd to test our product. My parents were out of town and had given me money for upkeep. I convinced my dear siblings to support my cause and we even borrowed extra money to produce our first ever large scale batch of juices. I mean, a large crowd of thirsty people under the Lagos hot sun, of course we would rake in lots of money. We were going to make a killing. We were all so excited. The challenge then was that our production process was largely manual so before we could finish up and head out it was already 2pm or thereabouts and we got to the carnival at about 3pm. Not surprisingly, the ceremonial activities had come to an end. Here we were, six of us with about 200 bottles of juice and no crowd (Laughs). I think we ended up selling about 15 bottles. It’s safe to say that for that period when our parents were away, my siblings and I drank juices until we were fed up of it (Laughs).

After this episode, I decided to scale back and convinced a neighbor to set me up at his office in TINCAN Apapa. I would set up a cooler at the Buka where the tanker drivers, bus drivers, and others came to eat. And from there I would haul my cooler bag into the offices. My clients ranged from tanker drivers to directors and executives at the company (MRS Oil) and they were very encouraging. There were times we had to literally hawk them on the road to sell out.

From Tincan, I moved to several offices in Victoria Island and now we supply key stores like Farm City in Lekki Phasse 1, Café Neo outlets and several other stores. Only last week, we attended our first major food exhibition (Flavours of Lagos) and we had a lot of people truly enthralled by the quality, taste and price for our juices.

On Giving Up
Only about a million times (Laughs). Truth be told, there is a limit to how far passion can take you. Many start-ups believe that passion is the balm that heals all wounds. The reality is different. If we are to discount the attendant challenges of any business across the world, the Nigerian system is designed to frustrate SMEs. This is because we are a society orchestrated to administrate and not to produce.

I remember when I was seeking machinery for juicing. I went to the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO). I paid for training and was told we had to wait to be a certain number. This was in 2013. I’m still waiting for that training. I was referred to a consultant technician who fabricates machinery and he gave me a bill of about N10million to set up my factory. I visited another agency to make enquiries about the process for certification, I was told by an official to ‘look for something else to do” as processing/manufacturing was too difficult for a woman.

There are periods where it just seems like anything that can possibly go wrong, does go wrong. Periods I made huge losses financially, or I’d see my peers and it felt like I was wasting time and everybody else seemed to be ahead. When faced with these trying situations, I dug into a reserve of strength I never knew I had and found the resolve to move on. Failure is just not an option. My Plan B is to find ways for Plan A to work.

Greatest Reward
Honestly, the praise of a new consumer. It is one thing to know that you have a good product, it is another to be validated time and again when someone tries the juices and they call me to rave about it. It is a new feeling every single time and that beats any achievement I’ve had thus far.

The High Cost of Setting Up a Factory
(Sighs). The challenges are many-fold and I touched on some of them earlier. Financing is a mammoth challenge. I got a break with the YOUWIN grant but there’s the timidity of our financial institutions when it comes to partnering with start-ups. Financing needs to be scaled to the level of the business but our banks simply don’t understand that. Also the lack of technical capability in Nigeria made it a nightmare to set up my factory. Sourcing for machinery is such a herculean task, especially when you’re an SME. Importing machinery is very expensive, then there’s the added cost of bringing in a technician to train your staff on how to use the equipment, maintenance and the rest. I ordered an equipment two (2) years ago that I’m yet to receive.

Nigerians View on Women in Your Line of Work
In my experience, there is an active conversation on women in business and this is increasing the perception positively. My line of work largely sees women as the forerunners and there has been an increased respect for the profession. I do understand that women in other fields may not be finding it as easy and that is the reason why I am actively engaging women for raw material supplies, production and delivery. The conversation is significantly bigger than me and I am consciously ensuring I play my part in the empowerment of the Nigerian woman.

I am a Woman of Rubies
One word: Tenacity. I have been through a lot in my line of work and I’m still standing. I believe firmly in the future and I believe that it can be shaped by the actions of the present. Regardless of the obstacles, I am determined to raise the bar for women in agro-processing and this is what makes me a woman of Rubies.