Innovation Is Key To Becoming A Successful Entrepreneur – Usman Nagenu Awal

Usman Nagenu Awal is a Civil Servant/Fish farmer based in Niger State. He talks about the pros and cons of marketing dry fish in Minna and Abuja. 

TMG> Tell us about yourself? 

Usman> I am from family of Barr. Mohammed Awal Bida and Hajiya Maimuna Larai Awal. I attended Model Islamic Primary School, Minna. I proceeded to FGC Maiduguri then GSS Suleja. I have a Diploma in Financial Studies and HND in Accountancy both from the Federal Polytechnic Bida. I did my national youth service at Oyo state and joined ICA Logistics Ltd Port Harcourt which is a shipping company. I was also a manager at Tagwai Bakery and confectionery Minna for 3 years. 

 

TMG> What made you go into fish farming and marketing?

Usman> Personal love for good food and hygiene. I realized that our artisan method of smoking fish is not hygienic and most times the taste of sand, dust and maggots due to flies and other things that settle on the fish made me think of other methods to improve on it. That gave rise to the idea behind Mashura dry fish.

 

TMG> What types of fish do you raise and sell? 

Usman> Dry catfish and extrovancus.

TMG> Which areas do you need to improve on in your company? 

Usman> The areas that need improvement are packaging, marketing and distribution. The cost of packaging and creating awareness to the consumers on the differences between the artisan method and our improved and better way of processing dry fish. 

 

TMG> What are some of the challenges you have faced in starting the industry? 

Usman> The challenges I face is raising of capital, publicity and how to strategise on marketing. 

Vehicles for distribution and cost is a major challenge.

 

TMG> What style of management do you think works in becoming successful at your kind of business?

Usman> Sole proprietorship works for me. 

TMG> Have you ever suffered loss during sales and what did you learn?

Usman> The profit margin is between 50 to 60% after expenses but spoilage due to lack of storage facility, issues of bad debt and delivery vehicle, if not properly managed, can lead to loss. The most important thing is that the source of raw material is readily available in my state.

 

TMG> Who are you comfortable selling to and why? 

Usman> I’m comfortable selling to anybody who can afford it. It is all about business. 

 

TMG> What motivates you? 

Usman> What motivates me is the need to make a living and to meet up with the challenges. 

 

TMG> What is your ultimate career aspiration?

Usman> My ultimate career aspiration is to see my fish farming business (mashura fish) go national.

TMG> How do you keep a smile on your face during a hard day to make sure your clients feel good enough to come back again? 

Usman> By letting my customers know that every thing is OK, and not being aggressive in my credit recovery (smile, saying sorry and thanks).

TMG> What role does marketing play in your selling process?

Usman> Marketing plays a very important role. It’s the only way that people get to know what you do.

 

TMG> What way can you encourage other youths not to depend on government for jobs?

Usman> I encourage the youths to look inward, especially agriculture and commodity business.

 

TMG> Do you socialise and when?

Usman> Yes I socialise; I enjoy watching movies, reading books and at times hanging out with friends.

Kogi West Senatorial Recall: Verification Holds October 14

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed Saturday 14, October 2017 for the conduct of verification of claims to recall the senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Senator Dino Melaye.

This was contained in a statement and timetable for the recall of the senator, issued yesterday by the Commission and signed by the Secretary to the Commission, Mrs Augusta C Ogakwu.

The statement read in parts. ‘Further to the statement by the Independent National Electoral Commission issued on 12th September 2017, the Commission today issued an amended timetable and schedule of activities pursuant to the petition for the recall of Senator Dino Melaye.

‘In fixing the timetable for the verification, sufficient time has been provided for the Senator to study the petition and accompanying materials to effectively prepare for the verification exercise in accordance with the order of the Federal High Court, Abuja.’

According to the timetable, activities related to the verification would commence with issuance of Notice of Verification on October 3rd, while Last Day for the Submission of Applications by Observers and; Publication of List of Accredited Observers were slated for October 5th and October 9th, 2017, respectively.

Stakeholder meetings to further sensitize and enlighten the citizenry on the procedures for the exercise were scheduled to hold at senatorial and Local Government Headquarters on October 10.

 The timetable also indicated October 12, 2017 as the last date for the member thought to be recalled to submit the names of polling agents he wish to deploy to for the exercise.

The verification exercise would hold in all the polling units across the constituency, while a minimum of more than 50% of total registered voters in the constituency was required to validate the claim.

Kogi West Senatorial Recall: INEC To Proceed With The Process

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said following the vacation of an order restraining it from conducting the Kogi West Senatorial recall, the Commission would now proceed with recall process.

This was contained in a statement issued yesterday by the Commission and signed by a national commissioner and member of the Information and Voter Education Committee of the Commission, Mallam Mohammed Kudu Haruna.

The statement added that the Commission would on Monday, today release a revised timetable and schedule of Activities for the recall.

‘All legal hurdles have now been cleared and the recall process can now proceed as envisaged by the Constitution, the Electoral Act and the extant INEC guidelines and regulations’ says the Commission.

Earlier, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has quashed a petition filed before it by the Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Hon. Dino Melaye seeking to restrain INEC from further proceeding with the recall process.

According to law and extant guidelines, the recall process would commence with a verification exercise to authenticate the signatories to the petition.

The verification was expected to hold at polling unit level throughout the constituency, while a minimum of more than 50% of total registered voters in the constituency was required to validate the claim.

The law further provide that the Commission would no longer proceed to conduct referendum if the outcome of the verification fails to satisfy the minimum requirement.  

 

Love For Servitude Prompted Me To Start My Business- Hauwa Idris Audu-Bida

Hauwa Laaibah Idris Audu-Bida is an Architect who imbibes creativity in every aspect of her life. The CEO of Sidri Foods Ventures Ltd. speaks with TMG on her food processing business and more. 

TMG> What made you start a processed food business?

Hauwa> Simply hospitality! The love for servitude.

TMG> Did you go to culinary or business school & What credentials did you earn through the training? 

Hauwa> Yes, I went to culinary school (in my mother’s kitchen!)Trust me, it’s one of the best trainings anyone can have but it took a period 10 to 15 years to perfect.

TMG> How did you actually start the business?

Hauwa> I began producing for the consumption of family and friends. At a point, I had to make a yearly production for my family living abroad and it was then the idea came to me to make a business out of it.

TMG> How many employees report to you?  

Hauwa> Five people report to me aside my marketing and distribution crew.

TMG> Apart from food processing business, what is your favorite cuisine to cook and Why?

Hauwa> Local Jollof rice made from palm oil, adequate daddawa(locust beans) and smoked fish. It is simply tasty- the kind of dish that leaves you wanting more.

TMG> What do you do to stay educated about new trends?

Hauwa> I am a research freak;  always on the verge and seeking something new. I attend seminars and conferences when I have to. I also do alot of internet surfing.

TMG> What do you do to ensure the best quality of your products goes out to customers?

Hauwa> My kind of products attract its own type of consumers; as much as I would like to do alot of marketing, it is still limited to those that know the exact quality of what Kunu is, those that appreciate its taste, and those who know the nutritional and health value. So my customers keep finding me. I also have distributors in strategic locations.

TMG> Tell us about an accomplishment that you are most proud of in your career? 

Hauwa> It depends on what field? I am a diversified person but my greatest accomplishment is being able to start up my little projects and finish them, whether it’s construction or production projects.

TMG> Tell us 3 things that you consider to be your strengths as a business person?

Hauwa>1. Faith 
2. Perseverance 
3. Extra attention to details

TMG> Tell us something you would like to learn or improve upon in your business? 

Hauwa> I would seriously appreciate it if I can pay more attention to marketing, also take an overview course on packaging and distribution.

TMG> What other things do you do as a business person?

Hauwa> I study and I write.

TMG> What are your challenges and how do you intend to handle them?

Hauwa> My major challenge is mechanization, which I and my team are working on vigorously now.

TMG> What other back-of-the positions have you previously held before going into food processing? 

Hauwa> I’m an Architect who imbibes creativity in every aspect of her life. 

TMG> Who are your role models and what inspires you about them?

Hauwa> My role model is my Rasul Muhammad (SAW), my faith inspires me about him. Others are my parents for all that they taught and have given me.

TMG> What way can you encourage other youths not to depend on government for jobs but to be self dependent?

Hauwa> The hustle today is out there on the streets. There is little to nothing left in the offices. And even if there was, I wonder how much of it can go round?

TMG> Do you have time to socialise and how?

Hauwa> Yes, I find time to hangout with my friends and family – we either go shopping, catch a movie or go for food exhibitions and funfairs.

 

INEC To Strengthen Public Enlightenment Programmes Through Radio

As part of efforts to enhance stakeholders access to the electoral process, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has scheduled a special meeting of Heads of Voter Education & Publicity Department from the 36 states & the FCT in Ibadan, Oyo state.

The meeting which is scheduled for Monday 11, September 2017 will discuss among other things; “Modalities for the implementation of weekly Radio Programmes slated for October – December 2017 in some radio stations across the state nationwide .

A paper on “maximizing Radio & TV programmes for Voter Education” is expected to be delivered by the General Manager, Kwara Radio and TV Corporation, Adewale Adebowale; while the Director Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, would present a talk on the “Expansion of Duties of Assistant Electoral Officers, Administration at LGAs to include Voter Education” and “Review of VEP messages towards 2019 general election”.

Dignitaries expected at the occasion include: the National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee (IVEC), Prince Adedeji Soyebi and Mohammed Haruna, also a National Commissioner and member IVEC.

The meeting is also expected to bring to the fold initiatives by INEC to strengthen public enlightenment programmes through radio with a view to ensuring voters across the country understand their civic and electoral rights. 

Good Journalists Shouldn’t Engage In Negative Stories For Popularity Or Monetary Gains- Ahmed Haruna Tswata

Ahmed Haruna Tswata is the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of Fortune World Magazine in Abuja. He speaks to TMG on how a childhood pastime became reality and he also shares what inspired a youth summit coming up soon in Mokwa, Niger state. 

TMG> How did you become interested in Journalism?

Ahmed> My interest in Media started while I was in Nursery Class in NEPA Staff School, Jebba Niger State where I read the news in Nupe during our end of the year graduation ceremony.

At that period, I used to look for old newspapers to read, in fact, there were times that I would buy old newspapers from the street to read. This really prepared my mind to go into journalism.

 

TMG> How long have you been a Journalist?

Ahmed> Informally, I would say I have been a journalist since my years in primary school, (laughs). but I took it up professionally since 2007.

 

TMG> Did you go for any formal media training or school? And what is it like to be a journalist?

Ahmed> Yes, I studied Mass Communication. Being a journalist is a joy, as the fourth realm, one is saddled with a lot of responsibilities to get people informed about the happenings around them.

 

TMG> What do you like most about your practice?

Ahmed> What I like most about journalism is the respect that is accorded to the profession by the public; we are the eyes through which the public sees or hears the happenings around them. This gives me so much joy.

 

TMG> Is it difficult to be a journalist and how hard is it to reach out to your readers?

Ahmed> It is not really difficult to be a journalist if only you choose to be honest and stick to the ethics of the profession.

 

TMG> What makes someone successful in journalism?

Ahmed> A successful journalist is one who is proud of his profession, and sticks to the ethics of the profession

 

TMG> How would you evaluate your work and what kind of feedback were you receiving from your readers?

Ahmed> I have been able to command the respect of alot of people in my social handles, mostly on Facebook and Twitter. I do not engage in cheap popularity, my posts are very neutral and I don’t engage in any kind of negative story for popularity or monetary gains.

 

TMG> Tell us about your social media and Youth programs you also established as a social media influencer? 

Ahmed> My stance on various social media platforms sts has been inspirational to a lot of people, most especially the youths. Majority of them look up to me as a motivating factor and they come for advice and encouragement.

TMG> Can you tell us how the idea to organize a Youths Summit came to be? 

Ahmed> It is a summit that is being organized by my magazine (Fortune World Magazine) for the youth in Mokwa Local government. Recently, there has been a lot of violence among and by the youths and this is organized to educate them on how to use non- violent methods to solve problems, to take the youths off the street, help them get back to school and the need for the youths to stop electoral violence and so on.

 

TMG> What are the biggest challenges facing journalists today?

Ahmed> The biggest challenges facing the profession in Nigeria today is funding.

Most journalists are living from hand to mouth, some media organisations don’t pay workers or their payment is very poor.

Non- availability of funds for journalists has been a factor that has militated research and investigative journalism. This trend has made some media outfits to churn out news stories that are not reliable and do not conform with the ethics of the profession. 

TMG> What do you do differently to ensure you deliver good quality to the public as a professional?

Ahmed> I make sure whatever I want to do should be in tandem with what can be obtained from journalists around the world. 

I make sure whatever I do is done with utmost responsibility that comes with intergrity and deep honesty.

 

TMG> Who are your role models and people that motivated you into this profession?

Ahmed> My role models are Dele Momodu, Haruna Mohammed, Dan Agbese, Sam Nda Isaiah, Ibraheem Dooba,Toni Kan, Ibe Kachikuwu and host of others

 

TMG> Tell us about an accomplishment that you are most proud of in your career?

Ahmed> When I started my own magazine, Fortune World Magazine.

 

TMG> Tell us about your management style and how you handle your co staff?

Ahmed> We are a little company that is growing – no boss/subordinate relationship – we work as a group to make sure our aims are achieved.

TMG> Tell us 3 things that you consider to be your strengths as a journalist?

Ahmed> 1- My ability to stay neutral.

2- My diplomatic nature of handling issues.

3- My nature of wanting to get facts right before going to press.

 

TMG> What motivates you as publisher? 

Ahmed> I have to make sure money is not the motivating factor to become a publisher. What matters is to be a goal-getter, get your priorities right, never get discouraged and never allow anyone dissuade you from aiming for the top.

When you make decisions, make sure they are well thought out before taking action.

 

TMG> What great plans and advice do you have for youths in your area? 

Ahmed> I have always been a youth activist. I’ve always nutured the younger ones on the need for them to show respect to their elders. We are Africans and that we cannot take away.

I have always advised the youths to stay off any kind of violence, that violence has never effected anything good, that they should never allow politicians to use them for thuggery, anyone that asks them to do so should be directed to bring his/her own children.

I have been an advocate of using non-violent means to solve problems. I say to my fellow youths that there is no need to stone or harrass any of our elected leaders. The theme for the campaign is “Drop The Stone and Pick the PVC.

 

TMG> What way can you encourage youths to be independent in any profession?

Ahmed> My magazine in conjunction with some youth organisations is organising a youth summit for youth in Mokwa, Edati Lavun Federal constituency. We will be bringing the youths together to discuss and fashion out a way to put a stop to youth restiveness. There have been a handful of youth violences in and around Mokwa of late.

We have approached the Niger State Government and stakeholders like Deputy Governor of Niger State, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Ketso; former Speaker, Rt. Hon Adamu Usman; Hon Ahmed Abu, Alhaji Abdullahi Ndafogi Nasiru and Hon Mohammed Baiwa Banshe and responses from them have been very positive. They all want the youth violence to become a thing of the past, create meaningful ways to engage them and to be useful in the society.

TMG> How do you spend your free time?

Ahmed> I spend my free time reading and watching soccer. I am an avid supporter of Chelsea.

Battle For My Life: Story Of A SCD Warrior

Emira Ukuta, a 17- year-old Sickle Cell Warrior granted TMG this inspiring interview on what it is like to live with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD), how she is fighting it daily and her hopes for the future.

Every year in sub Saharan Africa, more than 300,000 children are born with the sickle cell disease. Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disorder affecting the red blood cells. It causes the cells to lose oxygen very easily, turning them from round shapes to crescent shapes that cause painful episodes known as pain crises.

For Emira Ukuta, life is much better now compared to what she has been through since she had the disease. Spinal fractures in two places due to complications of the sickle cell disease had her hospitalised for a long time. She describes that period as a painful and miserable one.
“Upon my discharge from hospital, I was placed on total bed rest for three months. I had to wear a corset, use a wheelchair and missed two years of school. It was a painful and miserable time for me and I hope that no one ever goes through that.”

All she kept wishing for was that the pain would go away. The prayer was soon answered. Between the long stay in hospital, pain, numerous medications and facing surgery, she would find relief in some supplements that were introduced to them.

Emira was to undergo surgery on her spine when help came her way.
In between raising money for the surgery and dealing with agonising pains, some supplements were introduced to her which improved her condition drastically. She shares her experience.
“My life back then was pain filled. I had a crisis almost every two weeks, some of which lasted over a week and I missed school a lot.

I was supposed to undergo spinal surgery to mend the fractures but then I was introduced to these supplements: Arthrizin, Immunozin and Fortrezin (all products of Rahma). After taking them, the fractures in my spine were stabilized so the surgery was no longer a priority and I get to focus on school and life.

To Emira, going to school is very important to her actualizing her ambition of becoming a Psychologist. She wants to help people who have emotional and psychological challenges.

“My life is a lot better now that I take Immunozin supplements. Since I started taking it, I hardly ever have a crisis and I haven’t missed a day of school this year,” she adds positively.

Asked if her current method of treatment is commonly available to other warriors, Emira says:

“I would like to believe that it is, seeing that it (Immunozin) is produced in Nigeria. The challenge I see is that of exposure. By that I mean that not many other Sickle Cell Warriors know about it but between myself and my Mother, we have been recommending it to all those we know.”

Emira’s mother, Barrister Uche Ukata speaks on how her daughter’s condition has affected them and if any other member of the family had SCD.
“No other person has it in the family, she says.
Emira’s younger brother is very protective of her and always willing to lend assistance should she require it. Financially, it’s been rough paying for her treatments when she is hospitalized and especially now that we are trying to save up for her Spinal surgery which has been put at about $20,000. Emotionally, it’s heartbreaking to see her in such pain during a crisis. But luckily since she started taking Immunozin, she hasn’t had any major crisis.”

So how did she hear about these supplements by Rahma and what advice does she have for people suffering from SCD or their families?

“My older sister and brother were taking Rahma supplements and found them efficacious and recommended them to me. This was at the point we were told about the need and cost of surgery for her spinal fractures.
Parents should ensure their Warriors take the necessary medication and supplements to enable them live healthy lives. I’ve recommended the supplements my daughter uses to quite a number of such parents and have sent them bottles of the supplements to try out. They have since started ordering theirs directly and are very pleased with the results. As a matter of fact, one of the Doctors that treated my daughter at the Sickle Cell Clinic at UNTH has indicated interest in running a private clinical review of the supplements. He was that amazed at the difference in her between the last time he saw her (when they diagnosed the fractures) and today.”

Emira had this to say about helping sickle cell warriors even further.

“Firstly, find an affordable cure to the disorder; end the stigmatization of people with sickle cell disorder, and educate people on the need to know their genotype. In addition, provide affordable medical care for sicklers and keep researching and improving on drugs to manage the disorder.”

There’s currently no widely accessible cure for sickle cell. Advances in bone marrow transplant and gene therapy has altered the landscape of sickle cell suggesting a cure is on the horizon giving hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Entrepreneurship Can Be Better Than Employment – Amina Musa Suleiman

For Amina Musa Suleiman, taking a decision to bake doughnuts was a step to keeping herself busy. Now she has made it a full-time business. The B.A History graduate and CEO of Delight Doughnuts in Kano State tells TMG her story…

TMG> How did you pick an interest in becoming a pastry chef?

Amina> My first interest started when I graduated from Bayero University Kano before going for the National Youth Service Corps. I don’t enjoy staying at home doing nothing, so I decided to think of what to do that would keep me busy. Then l decided to start making doughnuts because of my passion for baking.

TMG> Did you go to culinary school?

Amina> No, I didn’t

TMG> If you did not attend culinary school, where and how were you trained?

Amina> I learned and trained myself through the internet; I also watch different tutorials on YouTube.

TMG> How many employees report to you?

Amina> Three employees for now.

TMG> Who do you run to when you have any problem in your kitchen?

Amina> I go to my mum and some friends of mine that also bake.

TMG> What is your favorite cuisine to cook and Why?

Amina> Both traditional and foreign cuisines

TMG> What do you do to stay educated about new trends?

Amina> I watch food channels and read online

TMG> What do you do to ensure the quality of the doughnuts going out to customers?

Amina> I make sure the ingredients are of high quality and I taste samples before they go out.

TMG> How do you ensure/test the quality of your ingredients?

Amina> I don’t change the products I use and always check expiry dates. I make sure I buy products from the same place too.

TMG> Tell us about an accomplishment that you are most proud of in your career.

Amina> I was featured in a food magazine due to the quality of my product and I’m going to co-sponsor a show soon.

TMG> Describe a problem you had with an employee in the kitchen and how you handled it.

Amina> There was a time I gave instructions to one of my employees to mix some dough but unfortunately, she made a mistake by pouring alot more water than measured. I ended up making a new dough myself.

TMG> Tell us about your management style and how you handle your Customers?

Amina> I make sure I’m involved in almost all aspects of my product and monitor the workers by being friendly. 

TMG> Tell us 3 things that you consider to be your strengths? 

Amina>

    a)-My cooking skills
    b)-My passion to succeed
    c)-My network

TMG> Tell us something you would like to learn or improve upon in your kitchen? 

Amina> I would like to upgrade my kitchen equipments from manual to automatic which will help me ease the stress.

TMG> What other things do you do as a Chef?

Amina> I’m currently doing a Postgraduate Course

TMG> Give us an example of someone you have trained or mentored. Where did they start and where are they now?

Amina> Her name is Maryam and she lives in Kaduna. She came all the way to learn how to make doughnuts from me and now she’s doing very well as expected and I’m vey proud of her.

TMG> How do you resolve the menu development and overall design?

Amina> I always try to create my own and make sure I present the best.

TMG> What are your challenges and how do you intend to handle them?

Amina> My worst challenge is when a customer places an order and when I call for them to pick up, they give excuses. Sometimes others will just cancel their orders at the last minute so I decided to change methods to payment when placing orders.

TMG> What positions have you previously held before being a Chef?

Amina> l have worked in a consultancy firm and as a classroom teacher before.

TMG> Who are your role models and what inspires you about them?

Amina> My role model is my Dad. He inspires me with his self- reliant attitude and he always encourages us to be self-dependent and to always read hard.

TMG> How do people react when they taste your doughnuts and what do they think of you as a chef?

Amina> People always compliment me after tasting my products and this spurs me to be better.

TMG> What way can you encourage other youths not to depend on government for jobs but to be self dependent?

Amina> The youth should try and discover what they’re good at and develop themselves. Over time, they could be better than employed people.

TMG> Do you have time to socialise and how? 

Amina> Yes, I do. I love watching movies and use my phone to keep me entertained. That, I can say, is key to my doughnut’s success story.