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Diary of a working mother: Christmas no longer competes with my birthday

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Christmas

I was born on 26th December and growing up saw me always sad that everyone forgot my birthday due to the excitement of the season. It did not help that Christmas Day was a day before my special day. There were occasions when my mother would ask that we cooked beans on my special day. You wouldn’t blame her as we have all had our fill of rice, chicken and drinks less than 24-hours before my birthday.

I was sad, felt unloved and over time stopped attaching any special meaning to my birthday. If you asked my 12-year old self what Christmas meant to me, I would have promptly replied that it was a day set aside to compete with my special day. As an adult and coming to a full realisation that it is a season of love and gifting, Christmas has taken a whole new meaning in my thoughts. It is a day that I am reminded that the way I felt when loved ones consistently forgot my birthday on an annual basis could be how others would feel should I forget theirs.

Christmas is an annual reminder that I should always make the effort to remember to celebrate people. It means forgiveness as well as I have long forgiven everyone that ever forgot and will ever forget my special day. This brings to mind how we attach so much meaning to things that others might not even bother with. All those years of internalising thoughts that I could have simply had a conversation about. Communication is important and so is the very act of listening instead of assuming that folks will take one look at my countenance and magically understand that I was hurting.

I have a special diary that I go the extra mile to pen down the birthdates of folks that I attach a currency of importance and love, to. Once a name is in that list, be certain to get a call from me, a birthday song and an occasional cake to spice up the special day. I encourage us to make that extra effort to surprise folks on their special days. If peradventure you have no one to pull a sweet surprise on, you can start with me after-all, today is my birthday and a special one at that as I officially leave the youth demography.

I intend to spend the day with family and friends in the cinema as we watch and enjoy Mo Abudu’s sequel of the truly exciting The Wedding Party. A little bird told me that everybody’s favourite mother-in-law, Patience Ozokwor made an appearance and I am keen to find out the life of the individual she brought joy (read as torments) to. Loads of popcorn, soft drinks, smiles, laughter and photo moments should also be on the menu and hopefully, I get to cheat on my fitness coach and his really annoying diet plan for me.

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I wish you a merry Christmas and my prayer for you in the coming year is simply that your jollof rice will come complete with succulent and ripe tomatoes. I truly thank everyone that have joined me on this weekly journey of chronicling some of my deepest thoughts. If you are new to the fun, please click here to enjoy the prior takes.

Blossom is a personal branding enthusiast and has a day job at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation where she provides Technical Advisory on Media and Strategic Communication to the Honorable Minister of State, Petroleum Resources. During an academic leave in 2014, she founded Digital Media Development Initiative, focused on advancing use of digital media for sustainable development.

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Profiles

We started PiggyVest to digitize ‘wooden box’ saving method – Odunayo Eweniyi, Co-Founder

Inspired by the local wooden box piggy bank, the idea for PiggyVest was birthed.

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The Financial Service sector has rapidly evolved in the last decade; with several viable startups springing up with innovations, most people never thought was possible. One of the notable startups, currently redefining the FinTech industry is PiggyVest. 

PiggyVest is the first online ‘savings and investment’ app in West Africa, with one mission to give everyone the power to better manage and grow their own finance 

For a company started by six young graduates, their success story is truly inspirational 

Today, Nairametrics profiles one of the brains behind this ethical startup company – Odunayo Eweniyi 

READ: Nine finalists to profer tech solutions to COVID-19 challenge 

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Early years 

Born in Oyo statethe 27-year-old Odunayo spent her early years invested in reading books. She excelled with ease in all subjects at her primary and secondary schools. A feat not surprising, as she is daughter to two professor parents. 

Odunayo recalls that even though she wished to study Medicine and Surgery, she did not consider herself empathetic enough to thrive in the profession. She went on to study Computer Engineering at the prestigious Covenant University, graduating top of her class in 2013. 

READ: New crypto gains 1,633% in four days, catches Ethereum creator’s eyes

Finding her Co-Founders 

As an undergraduate, Odunayo had already taken an interest in Coding and Artificial Intelligence and expected to take further studies in it. However, this did not happen immediately, as she started with job-hunting after graduation.  

“The first thing that happened to me was that I went for a job interview, and I was asked to quote a salary and I did. When the offer would come back, the salary they offered was 80% lower than what I expected, so I rejected it, she recalled. 

Subsequently, she teamed up with a couple of friends from her university days, and they came up with the idea of PushCV. Recounting the decision to team up with them, Odunayo says,  

READ: Why Africans are fast using Bitcoin for payment transfers

We all were amazing engineers in schoolSomto once built a miniature airplane, so I was pretty confident that a joint venture with them would produce amazing results. 

The other team members were already working on a discount card startup called Parolz, and she joined them to work on this for some months, while simultaneously still jobhunting with Oluwafemiand Somto was working on something called CV Flash, to help people who couldn’t write CVs properly or did so with terrible English. 

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Odunayo became a Co-founder at CVFlash, helping to write the CVs for clients. She was also writing for TechCabalZikoko, and later worked as Editor of TechPoint AfricaAll of the income from these jobs kept her going, and was also being channeled into getting the startup off the ground.  

READ: CBN starts disbursement of N50 billion Covid-19 intervention fund

Soon enough, PushCV came to the forefront of their interests, when clients started requesting that they help them ‘push’ their CVs to employers. The friends decided to collapse Parolz, and concentrate their energies on the startup raving with the most attention from users 

To differentiate PushCV from others, they started pre-screening candidates, so that only the best candidates would be sent to employers. Their activities attracted attention, and by August 2014, they got their first investment from Olumide Soyombo’s Leadpath Nigeria – an office space in Yaba, and a cheque for $25,000 

READ: FG gives reasons for fuel subsidy removal, discloses alternative to kerosene

How Piggybank was conceived 

By the end of December 2015, the team came across a tweet from a lady, about how she had saved N365,000 by putting N1000 in a wooden piggy bank daily. They decided then, that finding a way to digitize the concept would help salary earners save towards their financial goals.  

They launched Piggybank.ng on the 7th of January 2016, as a ‘savings-only’ platform, and the fully tested version was ready for public use by April 2016. Gradually, the brand grew by user-recommendations and testimonialsThese free adverts were a testament to the team, that they were helping with a real need in our society. 

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Three years later, in April 2019, they rebranded to PiggyVestand started offering direct investment opportunities to users, allowing them to combine discipline plus flexibility to grow their savings and investments. 

Users can now use the Quarterly savings options, save towards financial targets, or lock funds away. They can also take advantage of investment opportunities on the platform. The company currently serves 350,000 users, helping them save and invest combine billions of Naira every month, that they would probably be tempted to badly spend.” 

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Not a roller-coaster experience 

About her several experiences as co-founder, Odunayo said 

“The journey was full of self-doubt, and it took a toll on my self-esteem. The first thing I learnt was that I had to be adaptable, people don’t give you money then use your own For the first two years of running the company, I had to work a side jobwith the entire proceeds invested into running the start-up. 

The team was made up of six-persons at start-up, although only three people are listed as Co-Founders – Odunayo Eweniyi, Joshua Chibueze, and Somto Ifezue. Each person on the team had their specialty and strength, so it was easy to assign responsibilities. There was no accountant in the team, so they managed their finances themselves, noting that there were months, when they could not even pay themselves. 

Further education, honours, and recognitions 

Odunayo got certified in Full Stack Web Development (Computer Software Engineering) in 2018, as well as an online certification from the Harvard Business SchoolOdunayo is also CISCO certified. The Oyo-born tech founder says that she has intentions of furthering her education. According to her LinkedIn profile, she is currently undergoing a Master degree in Finance (banking) at the SOAS University of London  

“I draw inspiration from my family. They believe in me so much, that it is hard for me not to believe in myself. she said in an interview 

In 2019, Odunayo Eweniyi was named one of Forbes Africa 30 under 30 – Technology, and one of 30 Quartz Africa Innovators. In the same yearshe was named SME Entrepreneur of the Year West Africa, by The Asian Banker’s Wealth and Society, and is listed on Forbes Africa list of 20 New Wealth Creators in Africa 2019. 

She sits on boards like thAdvisory board of TrainFuture in Switzerland, the Gender Lens Acceleration Best Practices Initiative – a collaborative effort of Village Capital US, and the International Finance Corporation’s, Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (IFC-WeFi). 

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Business Half Hour

The path to becoming a Chocolate giant is not ‘chocolatey’ – Femi Oyedipe, Loshes Chocolate

From trying out different ventures, Femi Oyedipe has found her success in chocolate making.

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In Nigeria, starting and running a business – any business, is no walk in the park, as countless entrepreneurs have failed repeatedly. Hence, starting and successfully scaling a business, is a feather only few can lay claim to.

Co-founder and CEO of Loshes Chocolate, Femi Oyedipe, was a guest on the Nairametrics Business Half Hour, where she shared her start-up story and succeeding in a field where she was entirely self-taught.

The graduate of Biochemistry from the premiere University of Ibadan, recalls that her decision to start producing chocolates locally meant that her office became her classroom. Her words described the satisfaction she has derived from this chosen path.

“The fun of trying out new recipes, making mistakes, learning and unlearning till you understand the best recipes is a huge reward,” she said.

The decision to start

Entrepreneurship is innate for her, since she always gravitated towards it. However, taking it as a full-time venture definitely seemed less attractive. So, she tried out other options, things she could do alongside a day job. She had a brief stint as a make-up artist, and then another in trading Ankara fabrics, before becoming a cake-maker.

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It was while making cakes, Femi picked interest in chocolates. As a caterer, she would use them in some cakes, sometimes breaking or melting ready-made chocolates.

“It did not make sense to me that we still had to import almost all the chocolates on the store shelf, even when we had cocoa locally available,” she recalled.

However, she was still hesitant to take the bull by the horn, until 2015.

“I had my eye on a job I was going to start when I came back from the U.S in 2015, and it was supposed to take me on a totally different career path. When it didn’t come through, I was upset and disappointed. It was in the midst of this disappointment, that the inspiration to make chocolates came.”

It dawned on her that the major ingredient for chocolates – cocoa, was locally available in large quantities, and decided to challenge the norm of importing chocolates for consumption. From her house, in that same year, she started Loshes Chocolate. The single-origin, bean-to-bar chocolate maker in Nigeria.

Early challenges

Capital is key to any start-up venture, and it was no different for Loshes Chocolate. Femi pooled resources with her husband, and started by sourcing cocoa from local farmers, then processing it into chocolate for direct consumption, and for use by caterers and confectioners.

“The drive was ensuring that we retain the natural flavors and health benefits of cocoa, as against the usual mass-produced chocolates which have lots of additives. People are becoming more conscious of eating healthy foods, and we try to meet that need while producing chocolates that are still yummy,” she said.

Being domiciled in one of the largest cocoa-producing countries, availability of the major ingredient had taken care of a lot of problems except for electricity – a possible deal-breaker.

“It takes about 36 to 48 hours to grind the cocoa beans into powder, and you can imagine how much power that consumes,”

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“We needed some machines to get started and could not lay hands on them at the time, so my husband being an engineer helped to fabricate some of them. We got some parts from local markets in Lagos state, like Orile and put them together to make the machines we needed,” she explained.

Femi understood early on that, variety is the spice of life, so She spent time trying out new recipes, with family members and friends also serving as ‘guinea pigs’ for each new recipe. This served as a great source of feedback.

Later on, they needed to get the specialized machinery, and Femi recalled how fluctuations in Foreign Exchange, and the availability of manpower to maintain and service the machines posed a serious challenge.

Yet, she remains graceful in her advice to would-be entrepreneurs. “Just start where you can. In there, is where the innovation lies, because you do not have access to so much, and the business environment in Nigeria is not easy for SMEs. Instead of turning your back, you stay and become creative,”

Scaling up

With so many milestones attained, the company is not resting on its laurels. Loshes Chocolates still serves the local market at the moment, but there are plans to raise funds, scale-up, and start exporting. Femi is optimistic in the possibilities that abounds for her company, as is evident from her mantra, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

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Billionaire Watch

Elon Musk now the third-richest person in the world

Musk has seen a meteoric rise in his wealth, with his net worth growing by $87.8 billion this year.

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Elon Musk, Tesla, SEC, Stock, Twitter, COVID-19: Tesla’s Elon Musk to produce ventilators as fast-spread of disease lingers

The recent surge in many leading U.S technology stocks have unsurprisingly created wealth for their founders, investors and stock traders.

What we know: Elon Musk just surpassed the co-founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg to become the third richest person in the world. Shares of Tesla Inc. continued its unrelenting surge after the recent stock split of Tesla stocks. Musk is now estimated to be worth about $115.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Musk is the present chief executive officer of Tesla, a maker of electric vehicles.

The Palo Alto, California-based company sells sedans, sport utility vehicles, and is the state’s largest automotive employer. He’s also CEO of Space Exploration Technologies, a rocket manufacturer tapped by NASA to resupply the space station.

Musk, 49, has seen a meteoric rise in his wealth, with his net worth growing by $87.8 billion this year as Tesla shares surged almost 500%.

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Also helpful: an audacious pay package – the largest corporate pay deal ever struck between a chief executive officer and a board of directors – that could yield him more than $50 billion if all goals are met.

On Monday, Nairametrics reported how Tesla’s share price rose to almost $500 following a 5-for-1 split. Nearly 70 million shares had changed hands as at then, two-thirds of the daily average over the past year.

Tesla’s $464 billion market value now exceeds that of retail behemoth Walmart Inc., the largest company in the U.S. by revenue.

Recall Nairametrics, about two weeks ago highlighted major reasons why Nairametrics believed the stock was a strong buy and could surpass the present most valuable listed technology company.

Tesla was founded in 2003 by a group of engineers who wanted to prove that people didn’t need to compromise to drive electric – that electric vehicles can be better, quicker, and more fun to drive than gasoline cars.

Today, Tesla builds not only all-electric vehicles but also infinitely scalable clean energy generation and storage products. Tesla believes the faster the world stops relying on fossil fuels and moves towards a zero-emission future, the better.

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