Aysha Tofa is a 24-year-old entrepreneur who is not afraid to try her hands on several, diverse business ideas. She discovered her passion for business as a young girl in college and even now, is an inspiration to many young women in Northern Nigeria, where she resides. Aysha shares with SLA her experience and the driving force behind her entrepreneurship.
How did you become an entrepreneur?
My first brush with the business world was in my 3rd year in college. I often bought clothes to sell to other students and my friends. However, my biggest and scariest opportunity was when a friend was getting married. I had assured her I could supply 400 pieces of fabric for family and friends even though I had no idea how. Fortunately, things panned out; I made good of my word and some good money too.
That first big opportunity opened up more business doors as I invested the profit in other ventures. At the time I was done with school, I was already a known name -an entrepreneur in her own right!
You are an entrepreneur involved in a lot of things. Tell us about them.
Yes, I am involved in a lot of businesses. My scope covers just about everything – textiles, traditional caps, electronics, properties, food, fashion, etc. I also own an advertising company called Waves Advertising Limited.
I am, in fact what they call a hustler in the Nigerian parlance. I believe that for any business idea, no matter how novel, a detailed research would tell me exactly what to do.
Away from business now, we understand you had a project called Pink Waves. Tell us about it.
Pink Waves was another of my many projects. Our focus was on creating awareness on the cancer scourge, starting with northern Nigeria. Twice, we were on Voice Of America’s radio show, Yau da Gobe, to discuss the project. We reached out to influential people, government agencies and organizations soliciting support and sponsorship, but that never came through. It was a good project but sadly, it had to be put on hold.
How are you inspired?
I have a solid support system. My parents believe in me and that alone keeps me going. I want to keep making them proud.
How do you keep yourself going as an entrepreneur?
I read books on both successful and failed businesses. Through them, I have learned and mastered the act of taking risks. For someone who has tried her hands on many things, I believe failure in business can be a learning curve.
The entrepreneurial route can be tough, but I try to be as focused and patient as possible.
What is the business climate like in Northern Nigeria where you live? Are there challenges? How are you overcoming them?
Around here, people are more amenable if you are able to convince them of a product’s usefulness. But of course, a prevalent preference for quantity over quality negatively affects sales.
Also, due to religious and cultural beliefs, there’s the erroneous belief that successful women tend to be arrogant and may never find husbands. Notwithstanding, I never let these things stop me from reaching my dreams. I believe an empowered woman is not only a gift to her family but the society at large.
What is your driving force?
Through my various ventures, I want to inspire other women to reach heights they never thought possible. The ultimate goal is to add value to my society and I am taking it, one day at a time.
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