I sat down with Adenike Bamigbade, the founder of Closer to get to know her and how she’s empowering women to take charge of their menstrual health.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m Adenike and I work in the social development space; so I guess you can call me a social worker. I work on ideas and solutions that solve critical issues that affect young people and women. I am working on three things at the moment; raising young anti-corruption champions, improving access to employment for youth and building a sustainable way to end period-poverty in Nigeria.
What is your ‘why’ i.e. bottom line, and how do you stay motivated?
There are myriads of problems around us and this keeps my brain active. I am always asking; how do we solve these problems? Being an avid reader, I have read about how ordinary people create ideas that change the world, so this inspires me to keep creating, iterating and not give up trying to solve a problem I care about.
Period poverty is a real issue in our world, though the main problem is poverty. However, menstrual health should not be dependent on how rich a girl is, because she is only obeying nature’s call and it’s not her fault. I have seen lots of campaigns around period-poverty, but I feel most have short-impacts, we need to create a more sustainable solution to solve this big problem. This is purely what Closer is here to address, ensuring women and girls have access to good menstrual health.
What do you feel are your biggest achievements?
Closer is a new business and I am overwhelmed by the acceptance everywhere I had the opportunity to talk about the idea. Working on the idea and seeing the idea come to life is my biggest achievement so far. We took our time to work on the product, identify the best suppliers and ensure the experience is great. For us at Closer, every subscriber is a real woman, and she matters to us dearly. For every profit on each Box of Closer, 10% is used to help a girl from disadvantaged home to be out of period poverty. The smile and excitement on the girl is one I can’t buy. Also, each girl writes a ‘thank you’ letter to each subscriber that donated towards her period box.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
I enjoy the fact that I am adding value to people’s lives. Closer is all about our women and our girls. We are all about the impact and how valuable our products are to people’s lives, not the profit at all. As a business, we make profits, but the experience of our women and girls is fulfilling for me as the founder.
Introduce your company the way you would to a potential customer.
As a woman, you ought to be in charge of your menstrual health. Closer conveniently gives women access to the best-selected products specific to their menstrual needs through a subscription-based platform.
A woman’s lifecycle is largely controlled by her reproductive health starting from puberty to menopause. She is an egg-bag and her dreams can be tied to how well she is able to manage her reproductive health. With Closer, we are providing access to organic sanitary pads, organic panty liners and very important products women need each month to be in control of their menstrual health. Closer wants more women and girls to show up whether the red-visitor is around or her belly is pumped with a baby or she is in her grey-old-days enjoying menopause. We deliver the appropriate intimate care kits women in each category need without any worry.
Where can people find out more about your business?
At Closer, we want to take the stress off you every month. Start your subscription on our website at www.closer.ng. We also want to be with you all month round, so ensure you subscribe to our mailing list where we unfold the little secrets women shy about.
How have you carved a niche for yourself in your industry?
Quality, quality, quality. At Closer, we work directly with suppliers who are producing quality products. Our sanitary pads are safer for you and the environment. Our bikini shavers are healthier alternatives. We don’t do normal, we go extra to ensure we provide quality products.
This has made us distinct. Also, we are in the big e-commerce health industry, but we narrow it down to menstrual health only. This is a niche with low penetration in Nigeria at the moment, the ocean is still blue here and Closer is positioning itself rightly in that niche.
What challenges have you faced first as a founder and then as a female founder?
Human resource in terms of getting the right people to work on the idea. This would have been easier if there was enough capital to pay people, but I am willing to allow the business to grow and pay people at our own capacity. I do not want to take the risk of paying more than the business is making at the moment.
If you were given $1m to invest in *business*, where would it go?
Closer is a subscription business solving an important problem. It has the capacity to scale. With an investment funding of $1m, we will purchase more assets to aid logistics and distributions and also increase marketing budgets. With this investment, we can reach 1 million women per month and that means at least 100,000 girls will be out of period poverty every month.
What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our community?
Just start. I can be a perfectionist, so I always want everything to be perfect before I start. Launching Closer in March 2021 was not my ideal way of doing things but I obliged to the advice I got and I started. I noticed that I have learned so much from my customers than from the market research and survey I did in the past. So, I got real feedback which helped me tweak the products better. So, here is my advice to you as well, just start, it will get perfect along the way.
What key activities would you recommend entrepreneurs to invest their time in?
As entrepreneurs, we often create an idea that solves our own problem or someone we know. We then believe that other people are experiencing that same problem. When we are building a business brand, we make the mistake of creating a brand we love, not a brand that will appeal to our ideal customers.
So, I will recommend two things; research and feedback. First, research to understand if this problem is a common thing indeed and how people are already solving it. Also, research on who experience this problem, it is likely that those who experience it are not the ones that will pay for the solution. Also, ensure you get people to help you interpret the responses you get. Get your friends, people with different perspectives and get their insights.
Secondly, while you build, ask for feedback. Make feedback your food. Ask your customers to rate you, to share their experience and how they are using your product. Pay attention to the feedback and continue to tweak the products or services based on those feedback.
What business-related book has inspired you the most? (or, what is your favorite book) ?
I love Peter Druker’s books on management. What I have realized having read his books is that ideas are common, but a great manager is rare. As entrepreneurs, we are managing a lot of things at the same time. We are managing our customers, our staff, our finance, our suppliers, our market, etc. Each has its own tactics and ways of dealing with it. Peter Drucker spent most of his life studying management and he has broken it down through his books.
Adenike is currently on the High Growth Coaching Program scaling up Closer to keep on changing the landscape of menstrual health for women in Nigeria.