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‘Many Men Feel Uncomfortable Having Successful Wives’

Posted: Jul 12, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By all standards, she can be described as a successful woman, but life was not a bed of roses for her. She began her career as a civil servant at Department of Food and Drugs Administration in the 1980s and  left to start a business of her own under the aegis of Daily Fashions with specialisation in garment making which was to become the Tailoring Affiliate of The Kofsol Group of Today with a couple of other businesses under the Group. Over the years three more companies have been added to the group. Kofoworola Olaosebikan  recently opened up to Anthonia Soyingbe on different issues.



You are one of the pioneers of branding in Nigeria. Could you share with us your foray into this line of business?

We have been in this business as far back as the early 80s. Though it was started just that I have something to fill in my time and have an avenue to dissipate my energy because I was working with an agency of the Federal Government: Food and Drugs Administration, but naturally I am a very restless person, always looking out for what’s next to be done. I started the tailoring section while with the agency, but I found out that I wasn’t meant for an 8am.- 3:30 regimen of work, my sole aim was to raise my children and move on to my God Given Assignment.

Immediately after the compulsory national youth service, I decided to register a company KOFSOL Enterprises, a general service company which was meant to be doing ALL businesses! We later got in Daily Fashions which specialised in making garments, when I started getting directions on exactly what path to take in business. After a while I realised that tailoring for ladies was not a worthwhile venture because we made clothes for many customers, but they never came back to pick them up; due to their inability to pay even after fitting and being satisfied, they wanted to pick on credit, so we moved on to Uniforms making which was basically what one of my children who gave the name had in mind even as young as she was then- Daily Fashions was meant to be the Fashion for staff who are expected to turn out Daily in Fashionable well tailored wears.

Didn’t you then consider closing that line of business and start another?

Not at all, I don’t give up, I am one of those who believe that Crisis Is Too Expensive To Waste…It was a crisis we had in our hands as we were cash crunched at the time, easily I could have given up and face my Civil Service job, but we decided to go into Corporate Uniform making which actually became a vehicle God used to bring us into Core Branding. This is because even though individual corporate organizations could be differentiated with their uniforms, but we thought we could do more by putting their unique logo properly and some we started differentiating with the staff names and factory numbers for easy administration,I remember we started with PZ Industries Ilupeju.

Branding of uniforms was not in vogue when we started, but it’s all about art, creativity, ingenuity and innovation.

How did you get start-up capital?

I didn’t need much capital until I started branding; before then, I was managing with my salary. I approached some relatives to help when I was going fully into branding. It was quiet easy getting family support most especially from my siblings,I am very grateful today to my sister who gave what today would be millions of NAIRA today which we used to take an office space and to my mother whose sewing machine I took over,though she was an educationist, but she loved to sew. Fortunately one of my daughters though a Pharmacist has also taken over the same machine and she does Runway Fashions right now with her Pharmacy business to raise funds for Charity.

You are a pioneer, but like monopolist when you started many years ago. How is uniform branding business now that it has become competitive and a business of many people?

It is better now because there is competition and healthy rivalry. In business, you must be able to think and be creative,and of course one must not forget to involve God in everything one does. Thankfully to God,He takes us a step ahead of our competitors,showing us what to do next. So rather than the low barrier entry affecting us negatively,I would say it sharpens our thinking and helps us to run better by the day.

What are some of the challenges you encounter as a female entrepreneur?

I don’t really like to be seen as a female entrepreneur, rather I will like to be seen as an entrepreneur. When you look at yourself as a female entrepreneur, you may then be about throwing a pity party. If anything happens to me in business, I manage it as an entrepreneur and not necessarily as a woman. Things happen to men too and if we all keep complaining, then nobody will get anywhere because at the end of the day, your success depends totally on God and your commitment to whatever you are doing although with a cooperative man as a husband, the sky might just be the beginning for a focused and hardworking woman.

I have always said it and I will say it until things get better, that the only challenge I have in business is Human Resources (HR) and this boils down to the Nigerian educational system.

Believing that we should stop complaining and expecting only the Government to do it, the management of Kofsol has come up with running some programs with a couple of Colleges, giving them talks on Entrepreneurship for free, and pledging to give scholarships and employment placements to those who yield to our efforts. The Challenge methinks is that people run through academics without thinking about the work ethics and the business in what they are teaching or being taught.

Do you mean your HR Challenge is because of your sex?

No, it is not about being a female entrepreneur, but it is about running a business in a climate like this where nobody pays due attention to what the children are taught in schools. You find it very difficult to have business partners who really have understanding of where you are coming from; people who are ready to have ownership mentality in business that can make them prosper in it. It is a big deal; we have the businesses, we know how to get the jobs, you would be quick to observe that finances are not the problem in business, but the fact that there are limited number of people most especially for an Small and Medium Enterprise ,who can’t stand the NAIRA power of the Multinationals in scouting for talents to work with,I ncidentally, one can’t do it alone. If you want to do it alone, then you are limiting your business. This challenge stems from poor education in schools. If you assemble 100 applicants, hardly will you get two that are employable. We try to train, but some of them are quite untrainable. Most workers in Nigeria think leaving homes and commuting to the various offices is what translates to working even when no value was inadvertently added, they look forward to being paid. No intellectually engaged thinking and strategizing,t hey want the business owners to do all the work and share the money with them as salaries, when this is not done, you see a very high staff turnover, absolutely no work ethics, but like I earlier said, we as a business endeavor has started doing our bits about this, We are appealing to government on all levels too however to do something about our educational policies in order to make products of our institutions employable.

How did you cope with raising your children and at the same time growing your business?

Aside the fact that I was very uncomfortable with the lethargic feeling I was having in the civil service, It was obvious also that my creativity could not be contained in such a set-up. I got married about a year after I started work and my children started coming almost immediately. By the time I resigned, I was almost done with child-bearing and my children were not infants anymore. Being a civil servant also afforded me a lot of time to stay with the family and that really helped in creating a good bonding among us. With the kind of parental background I had, it wasn’t too difficult for me raising family and my building my business. I don’t think I will be fulfilled if I had continued in the civil service.

Between your home and your career, which one comes first for you?

Don’t let anybody deceive you; it is not easy running a business you envision to be sustainable being a married woman with children. It only takes the grace of God through answered prayer for a woman to be able to manage home and family together. I had options working in a bank when we started out, especially with the lofty working conditions would not condone the hebetudes which was the order of the day in the civil service, they would make you work for every dime collected, and besides it is not in my character to feel fulfilled not paying my dues for money received as a salary. Going back to your question, I would say it’s half here, half there, with good reasoning and planning and of course the God factor, I was able to put the family first during the teething stage to have a solid foundation and this worked in my favour as by the time my children were growing to see me as a businesswoman, hardly having time to sit down to a comfortable meal before dashing here and there, they respected my life of toil and cooperated with me in responding positively to the home training I was giving them. Also, they appreciated me as a mother who always had their intrest at heart, thinking about their progress, as they were grown up enough to understand that good things come to those who get up and go for it, they were responsible enough to understand that it was to the advantage of all of us if I did not get distracted. It has not been easy, and I don’t really expect it to be easy as an average African man is egoistic and a woman rubbing shoulders in business with them is therefore not part of their idea…..but with the help of God, coupled with determination and hardwork, success is guaranteed for a woman.

But do you think it works for every woman simply like that?

I truly know it doesn’t work out for a lot of women simply like this, most especially in this part of the world, many men don’t want their wives to be successful, some are even inimical to their wives’ happiness, so if your business is growing they are very sad since this brings you happiness, in their minds, they believe that when women are successful, they can’t be easily controlled, forgetting that in the plan of God, women are meant to be loved to get the best out of them, not to be controlled, women are helpmates and so men should take them as mates in everything. If you as a man is successful, you should attribute it to your wife and vice versa, and be glad and accomplished thanking God for making you a complete Success, however Problem comes when the man sees himself as the boss. If you are a leader just like God as ordained you to be, then you will have no problem coping with a successful woman. No woman goes out of track if she is truly loved by her man. Most of them want unloved but submissive wives, attributing this to God’s injunction in the book of Galatians, forgetting that God is not an author of confusion, He equally puts unequivocally in His word that apart from the man loving the wife like Christ does to the church, giving His life for us, men are not allowed to be embittered towards their wives, not wanting your wife’s progress is being embittered towards her, and unfortunately being embittered towards yourself as in marriage, two has become one.

But I advise women being persecuted from home as they climb the ladder of success not to give up on their dreams, but to prayerfully sort the situation out with constant and effective communication, there is nothing difficult for God to sort out but they should never give up on their dreams as they may live to regret it, an embittered man most likely will not live up to his responsibility of taking care of his family, even though he has stopped you from being fruitful just because of his low self esteem and insecurity.

What has been your guiding principle?

We are here by the grace of God and it’s only by his grace and mercy we shall reach our goal, as we are still far from where God is taking us, so we apply the word of God in everything we do. Humanly speaking, there is nothing that suggests we could get this far looking back to where we started from, it is simply God. I don’t give up once my inner mind says this is the way because I know the one who controls my mind. I also keep learning, I embrace whoever has any good offering to bring into our business, and I am an unapologetic proponent of do as I do not as I say, I also believe in 360 degree leadership style. I will like to add here that I am a very result oriented person, the grace of God is available to whoever desires and believes, but I don’t take that grace for granted, as such I try as much as possible to do whatever I find myself doing well, achieving results.