Oby Igodan: I’m teased for all the business ideas I come up with

oby igodan she leads africa

If you’re a #MotherlandMogul and a mom, you know the struggle of finding the right kind of daycare facility for your young kids while you hustle. For Oby Igodan, what disturbed her was that the facilities she came across did not feel like home. Running a daycare can be a profitable business but as a mom, your child’s development is of utmost importance.

Looking to start a crèche and daycare that’s a home away from home, Oby launched Home Also Crèche & Daycare. She runs this while also working as a Managing Partner at VIL Consulting. As the children in her crèche grow, she is looking at expanding into a preschool to cater to our older kids who love it at the crèche.

Oby spoke to us on the challenges, joys, and satisfaction of providing children with a secure and stimulating experience in a comfortable and relaxed setting.


Why start a crèche?

While raising my own children as a career woman, I realized something interesting. The facilities I took them to in their early years didn’t really provide the feel of a home environment or afford them the gradual transitioning into the academic arena.

A lot of those outfits were run purely for business with little or no consideration for the unique developmental needs of each child. I set up Home Also to identify every child’s uniqueness and help foster proper development.

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What challenges did you face starting your business and how have you overcome them?

Majorly, it took some convincing to get my family to surrender the living room space. In fact, I wanted the entire ground floor of our home to run the crèche. It sounded ludicrous.

With persuasion and the knowledge that this was my dream upon retirement, they agreed to let me use the space. Secondly, finding the right staff that has been difficult. My staff has to be well-trained to offer young children —from 12 weeks to 3 years— a fun and educational experience.

And of course, there was raising the required capital to start paying staff without having a single child enrolled. Then, paying for staff training while anticipating that it would translate to enrollment.

I will say that God has been gracious to me and I give Him all the credit for helping me overcome these challenges.

Has it been any difficult working with other people’s children?

Actually, it’s been really rewarding and thrilling to have these little angels kept in our care. We feel that their parents trust us and we must guard that trust jealously.

We’re grateful that they trust us enough to leave us their babies at such tender ages. Some are as young as 3 months. It’s a vote of confidence that we uphold.

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From your experience, what does one need to have covered to open a crèche in Nigeria?

First, ensure you have the passion and the required aptitude for the business. Then, good, knowledgeable and experienced staff.

A safe, secure and hygienic environment is also very important. Be sure to meet the requirements of regulatory bodies.

And of course, there’s the all-important start-up capital.

What keeps you inspired in hard times?

My life has been dotted with ups and downs. Through it all, God has helped me. The knowledge that I have a father who loves me gives me inner strength to weather storms. His mercy and grace have brought me this far and will see me through the years ahead.

When it looks like there is no way out, the voice inside will read out relevant scriptures to give me confidence and hope. That’s just it.

On occasion, I’m inspired by stories of people I admire. People like Joyce Meyer, Stormie Omartian, and Oprah Winfrey.

If you weren’t running a crèche, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t running a crèche, I would be working full-time running a consulting firm. This is something I am engaged in at the moment, but on a part-time basis.

It’s called VIL Consulting and it’s a homegrown management consulting firm set up by a team of experienced professionals. We have the best from businesses and institutions who help to provide expert advice and assistance to clients. I participate as a managing partner, providing the required strategic direction for my partners.

My daughters always tease me about all the business ideas I constantly go on about. So, if I didn’t have my hands full with two start-ups at the moment, I’d be working on starting another.

You see, I need to prove to them that mummy’s not all talk!


If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Beyond the passion – What you need to get into the caregiving business

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Are you a woman who wants to ensure that her family and community is well looked after? Are you passionate enough to sacrifice time and energy? Do you have some basic administrative, managerial or business skills? Maybe you’re thinking none of these requirements apply to you, but are you ready to be spat on, clean washbowls or change thousands of soiled diapers? Then the caregiving industry might just be the revolutionary business idea that you have been seeking.

Mind you, it’s painstakingly hard but it is one way to give back to society whilst paying the bills. Interestingly, a famous African saying says, regardless the source of the income, money is money. I am sure that at this point your heart might be doing cartwheels at the thought of the coolest business idea ever. The fact is that home care is one of the fastest-growing businesses in the world. You can be rest assured that without a large capital and clients, you can feed your passion by starting a daycare for children or a nursing home for the aged.

Location

If you have a roof over your head, then you have the space to start and work with. Is your child in preschool? Are you a divorcee living alone? Or are you an elderly couple with kids off to university? You can always make space with what’s available.

It could be a nursery turned into storage, a den that no one sits in anymore, an empty garage or a basement without piles of laundry. It will surprise you just how well, using the right colours, textiles, paint and partitioning can transform a space.

Furniture and equipment

Getting your initial set up furniture and equipment can be as easy as reaching out to friends and family, A lot of times, families hoard furniture in the hope of re-using them, but most times, they don’t.

If you have a network that is accommodating, reach out to them for their old stuff. Most of these items are barely used and have minimal damage. They can be repaired at little cost.

Staff

Hire retired nursing aides, nurses, and early-year teachers because, with their experience, they are typically patient, may have less responsibility or financial needs and will be willing to help you grow your business.

Recruit young people who are willing to work as volunteers for the first couple of months till you settle your financials.

Acquire knowledge

The worldwide web has a multitude of free resources and courses for business owners in the caregiving industry. Sign up for these courses as often as you can, acquire knowledge on creating a business plan, new trends and best practices in the caregiving industry.

Research successful businesses in the industry, you can target studying one business a day. Learn new skills to minimize calls to experts for help with things as basic as installing a nursing station. Train your staff on acquired skills. Create a dynamic team. Give yourself space to grow!

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Your clients are right here

Your clients are never in space or in the next city. They are the people you meet within the marketplace, at the hospital and at your place of worship. Familiar people will feel more relaxed because they think they know your story and can relate to it. They will feel safer around you than some savvy business owner who launches a similar start up in your area. These are your clients; be sure to invite them to your open house. Seek their ideas before implementation.

Also, find out what their immediate needs are. Would they work full time or would they prefer a full day care? Are they more focused on the social interaction a group setting will offer?

Furthermore, the elderly might just need to be tended to at different times or a group where they meet and discuss. That cozy setting might be your house. You can set up games and make homemade goodies, to create the perfect setting for old stories of love and war.

Marketing and advertisement

Design and print catchy flyers. Distribute them at supermarkets, playgrounds, schools, and hospitals. Also, volunteer for community engagements. These will increase your visibility and increase your trustworthiness.

Remember that your most valuable marketing tool is word of mouth communication. This will get people talking positively about what you do.

Registration and legal requirements

Always ensure that you do a research on the requirements of registering a business in your country. You would want to create an atmosphere that is loving and devoid of stress.

Seek advice within your network. You might just know a lawyer willing to assist with the registration procedures at a discounted value.