Arewa’s story

Arewa is the one of the 1,700 Nigerian women entrepreneurs to have participated in our Road to Growth programme. From 2019-2020 we supported her to develop a framework for planning her business and to grow her network to include like-minded women in her community.




Lagos, Nigeria

The growth of my business has had a tremendous impact on the people around me.

Arewa Tobiloba, Founder of Adire World, and Road to Growth alumna

My name is Arewa Tobiloba, I am the only woman in my family because my parents separated when I was three. I started my entrepreneurship journey back when I was in university as a way to get an extra income.

My business is a textile design business called Adire World. We started in 2016 and we design fabric patterns. We work with fashion designers and individuals to create custom prints. We also create custom prints which we sell online. I started my business as a result of my love for art and fashion.

One of the major challenges of being an entrepreneur in Nigeria, especially being a woman in my field, is the belief that men are supposed to be the creative designers and women are not. Also, generally, there’s gender inequality in the entrepreneurship space in Nigeria.

One of the things I’ll say that makes it harder for a woman than a man to grow their business is the emotional “double burden”. Growing up as the only woman at home, I had to do all the chores and also run my business, unlike men, who can often solely focus on their business.

I heard about Road to Growth when surfing the internet. I applied and was selected for the programme. One of the reasons I applied was because I wanted to acquire more business knowledge. I had no prior knowledge about business before applying.

I really did enjoy the whole programme. My favourite part was the class around balancing priorities of business and family, and how this is critical for your wellbeing as an entrepreneur and for the performance of your business.

The HerVenture app was a very easy app to use and get things done.

The Road to Growth programme has really helped me a lot. Meeting people that are in the same business line as me and networking with other people feels great. Some have even mentored me and this helped my business to grow.

Through the Road to Growth programme, I have learned to position my business better, communicate with my target audience, and get their attention. It also helped tell my story, which has attracted so many customers. We had a class on how to separate our sub-accounts and because of this knowledge, I was able to save a lot to help me get my new workshop space.

I have an academy where I teach textile designing, and COVID-19 affected our classes. But thanks to what I learned from Road to Growth, I was able to move my class online.

Having a successful business to me means peace of mind, integrity, business structure, having team members who are happy to come to work, having satisfied customers, and constantly making a positive impact.

One of the best things that has happened as a result of attending Road to Growth would be how I have been able to grow. I used to work on my own at home but now I have team members and a fully functioning workshop.

The growth of my business has had a tremendous impact on the people around me. Now I have more time to teach others for free. I have been able to employ paid team members and we also have a sustainable project called “Project Clothe Me” where we get clothes from others, recycle them and give them out.

I do believe if you support a woman, you support a family. The growth in my business has really helped my family in many ways, like supporting them with my salary, helping people around me, and being impactful to society.

I would strongly encourage other women to join Road to Growth. It’s a programme which every woman trying to grow her business should apply for. After attending, my business has grown massively.

My future vision is to place my business on a global market and to promote Nigerian prints on a global scale. I also hope to have a textile academy where people from different parts of the world come to learn how to make Nigerian textile designs.

Find out more about Road to Growth in Nigeria

Road to Growth is one of the Foundation’s five flagship programmes. It is highly scalable and adaptable. The Foundation is actively seeking funding partnerships to enable the programme to launch in, but not limited, to Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania and Mozambique, with each iteration carefully adapted for a local context. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss potential partnerships!

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