Nigerians who found new vocations during lockdown

Nigerians who found new vocations during lockdown

The lockdown necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic didn’t mean lockdown of minds for many Nigerians, as the time saw the unlocking of potentials and talents. Five women who explored and birthed new skills and businesses share their stories with Dorcas Egede.

TOLULOPE Sasore ventured into egg supply and distribution during the lockdown. As a widowed mother of two, Sasore had to quickly come up with another money-making business to be able to cater to her family needs, as the coronavirus lockdown persisted.




Before the lockdown, Sasore said she was into “printing jobs for offices and office supplies from furniture to toiletries. But as the lockdown began, offices were not really doing much, and everything became slow.”

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This meant low cash for her. “I was running really low on cash, so I thought: what else can I do to earn daily income instead of waiting on companies to place orders?”

Sasore’s lucky break came when she saw a farm advertising eggs for sale. “I thought I could get eggs from farms and speak to people around who do wholesale. That was how I started with the money I had saved for my children’s school fees.”

What Sasore stepped into out of desperation has today turned out real good.  “So far, it’s been better than I expected.”

However, it’s not been all smooth and rosy. “At some point I got scammed. The first farm I saw wasn’t a real farm; it was all these scammers doing their thing. When I contacted the farm, I was asked to send 40% of the amount. I went ahead thinking it was a genuine farm. I was stupid though. That’s how I got scammed.”

However, that didn’t discourage her and she eventually got linked to an actual farm.

On why she decided to go into egg supply, Sasore said, “I had always thought that if I would do any business outside printing and office supplies, it’ll be food. I didn’t really have eggs in mind, I was thinking of other consumables. Besides, I thought food seemed to be the thing selling the most during the lockdown, and I wanted something that would bring in steady income.”

And now Sasore is already thinking of having her own poultry. “I went to a friend’s poultry farm recently and I asked a lot of questions. I’m really looking forward to starting something like that,” she said.

“I used to tell people that I cannot do buying and selling. But clearly, that’s a lie. If something doesn’t push you, you wouldn’t know how much you can do.”

Tolulope Sasore is therefore one of those for whom lockdown opened up new opportunities.

If anyone had told Modesayo Okeniyi before the lockdown that she would soon be designing websites, she would probably have laughed it off as a joke. But today, the educator with an entrepreneurial mindset is a proud website designer set to change the world – thanks to the hardship occasioned by the coronavirus lockdown.

But what inspired her to go into website designs, Okeniyi said, “Honestly, I was trying to solve my business problem. I wanted to do a website for my business, so, I enquired about the cost and was taken aback by the replies. One person told me N3.5 million for the type of website I wanted. The least I got was from a friend who offered do it at the rate N50,000 because of our friendship.

“I became very curious and checked online to see what this web design thing was all about. I saw someone who posted, “How to get a domain name.” I checked it out and started reading everything about web design. I did a lot of research about how to do it myself and I started doing it myself. I designed a website already and I am now learning everything there is to learn about it. Amazingly, I’m finding it really interesting.”

Having solved her business problem, Okeniyi says she is more than ready to start solving other people’s business problems. “Already, I have a client who wants me to teach him,” she said.

Though she had planned on learning other skills during the lockdown, web design came as a plus and she is grateful for it. “I learnt digital marketing and the use of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and course design. I was actually majorly interested in how to create courses online, so the lockdown period was a good time to do so. I learnt it on EdX, and now I can create a course online. But, I am particularly excited about this web design that I learnt,” she said.

“For the course creation skill that I acquired, I am an educator and I had noticed by December last year, that a lot of people were coming into the education industry digitally, so I wanted to take advantage of that opportunity. I also realised that some teachers didn’t know how to use digital tools, because some actually asked me to teach them, so I decided to learn these things to enable me solve other people’s problems.”

Ayo Bamgbade, a Biology teacher in one of the secondary schools in Amuwo, Lagos, founded Peculiar Food Mart, a foodstuff and fruit mart business during the lockdown.

“I started a month ago. Not to sound spiritual, it was birthed in the place of prayer and it was actually meant to meet needs, to help people do their foodstuff and fruit shopping and deliver to their doorsteps. We have different packages and can help you manage your budget. We also have our premium packages where we supply you based on subscription plans. So, it’s basically to help people with their shopping needs at rock bottom prices.”

She disclosed that taking off wasn’t so much of a challenge.  “The major challenge was how to find out where to buy in bulk. Once I was able to achieve that, I simply put myself in order and put out adverts online, and people have been placing orders. It amazes me how much has happened within the space of one month.”

Still working on a website to make placing orders easier for her clients, Bamgbade said, “We don’t have a website yet, but we have phone lines, social media handles, Instagram and Facebook through which people reach us to place their orders.”

Asaba-based teacher, Helen Iwebo, also falls into this category. She told The Nation how she started a new business of selling palm oil during the lockdown. “I started selling palm oil; before now I was into baking.” she said.

“I actually wanted something else and I knew that people always buy food items, but I didn’t want to sell crayfish or anything else. I also realised that food business boomed more than anything else during the lockdown. So, I bought in bulk and sent Whatsapp messages to most of my contacts that stay within Asaba. As I speak, I’ve almost finished selling the first batch and I’ve placed order for another.”

Right now, Iwebo is considering doing the business on a larger scale?

“I’m considering doing this on a large scale. I’m thinking of stocking up now, so that when it becomes very expensive, I’ll sell at moderate rate.”

Asked how the lockdown inspired this new move, she said, “I was at home for a long time doing nothing and running low on cash. I reckoned that since people were not celebrating events because of the lockdown, I needed something else to generate income.”

Kemisola Adeyeye, a Port Harcourt-based fertility nurse and mother of two engaged herself by doing an online course on Covid-19 and treatment regimen. She also learnt graphic designs.

“A colleague told me about animation and I became curious to learn. So, I registered for an online class on how to use the Inshot and the legend app, and I created some things for my colleagues at work, during our Nurses Week.

“I chose to learn these skills, basically to add value to myself and others. I didn’t think of this in the form of income generation. The motivation basically was to be able to do something monumental for our Nurses Week, which I achieved. Maybe the money part will come in much later.” She said.



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