We met her fully dressed in her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) sitting astride an earthen firewood cooker with a large gari-frying pan on it, frying gari this Saturday afternoon. Ekwutosi Chikwado Ukwueze is an NYSC Member serving at Edwin Clark University, Kiagbodo, Delta State. With a good degree in Library and Information Science from the prestigious University of Nigeria (UNN), Nsukka, she should rather be preparing herself for a post-NYSC white collar job, so why the heck is she burning her nails and letting smoke choke her in the name of frying gari? In this chat with PAT NNADI at Alor-Uno, her hometown in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, Ms. Ukwueze lets AbeyaNews into her world of entrepreneurship, a trait and passion she inherited from her mother.
My name is Ekwutosi Chikwado Ukwueze. I am from Alor-Uno in Nsukka LGA Enugu state. I studied Library and Information Science at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. I am currently doing my National Youths Service Corps programme at Edwin Clark University, Kiagbodo, Delta state. I grew up knowing that hardworking is a virtue. I grew up without any silver spoon. My mother is a good, hardworking woman who doesn’t joke with her children. She inculcated the spirit of hard-work in all her children. She is a big time gari producer and that made us know how to do gari business, from processing to sales.
Why people scramble for white collar job
I see white collar job as an alternative means to survive. You cannot be rich being a civil servant. The ritual of waiting for the month to end before you can solve your financial problem because you are a civil servant is not ideal at all. I prefer entrepreneurship and good business to meagre salaried job. This is because if you are an entrepreneur, you will be able to make a maximum use of your skills and knowledge. But as a salary earner, you just confine yourself to the rules and policy of the organization you work with. You cannot bring out the best in you because you don’t have much say.
Challenges of entrepreneurs in Nigeria
Entrepreneurs in this country are faced with a lot of challenges. One of such challenges is finance and huge taxation. Many of us entrepreneurs do not have even half of the capital we need to run our various businesses. Again we are faced with huge taxation by the government. We also suffer high cost of raw materials. For instance, I am also into catering work and I know how costly our materials like floor, sugar and other things have become. It is very discouraging but we cannot afford to quit.
Advice to the youths
After my NYSC, I will continue with my catering and gari business. I need like N2m to N3m to take my gari business to the next level. I will establish gari-processing plant. Equally I need about N2m to strengthen my catering business.
My advice is that our youths should acquire skills, be they female or male. Don’t feel that you are too big for this or that. Once you have something you are doing that puts food on your table and solves your problems, you are a boss man or boss lady. The richest man started somewhere with little but today he is happy and has employed thousands of people. Don’t feel that you have small amount to start with. The truth is that if you are given the huge amount you want, you may not be able to control the money and the business may eventually collapse.