Who says your failures and fears are not your stepping stones? No one. No one at all.
I have always been a business enthusiast. I loved the idea of creating a means of value exchange. I still do.
I started my first business when I was about 10. It was a simple retailing business where I would get some common household groceries, such as detergents, in fairly bulk quantities and resell them in smaller quantities to my neighbors and family members (Of course, my family had to be my first clientele!).
I was doing fine until the day my open container of detergent fell off the cliff it was placed for greater visibility to potential clients. That ended the business.
Some years down the line, I picked up interest in making African beadworks that could be used by women for special occasions. This time, I got a better start: My neighbour who had a fashion outfit agreed to display my wares alongside hers. That way my target clients would be reached more easily. I felt I had hit my jackpot in entrepreneurship this time. Months later, not a single one was sold. I had to pack that up too.
The cake-making business I started after my national mandatory youth service (NYSC) didn’t fail. In fact, it can be called my jackpot, relatively. I already started building a very good client base and scoring some decent profit margin, but I had to let go of the business momentarily because my school schedule was not giving me the time the business demanded.
All these stories subtly but painstakingly registered in my heart that I was a failure when it came to entrepreneurship. So you can imagine my first reaction when the idea of setting up an initiative to help small-scale entrepreneurs scale through their grassroots stage.
“Toyin, you have got to be kidding if you think someone like you can pull that off!”
That’s like a summary of my thought process about it.
For two years, I tried to forget that idea ever came to my heart. In March 2018, when I could no longer pretend it wasn’t there, I prayed about it and spoke to a few friends about. They gave me ample advice on how to go about it and encouraged me I could do it. I pulled together a team of 7 persons to brainstorm together, and we officially launched out with a first meeting in May 2018 that had 12 entrepreneurs in attendance.
In an application for an advanced entrepreneurial training for African women, I shared my story of my failures and the fear that accompanied launching the initiative because of them. A while ago, I was contacted that I had been selected as one of the 200 African women for the fully-funded program, among over 1500 applicants.