Felicia took part in our Road to Growth programme from 2019-2020 and used the HerVenture app.
“I sincerely believe there is a bright future out there for every woman in business.” Felicia Ohikere
Felicia is the Founder of Lille’s Pastries in Nigeria.
As well as being a HerVenture app user, she is one of the 22,500 Nigerian women entrepreneurs to have participated in our Road to Growth programme, which from 2019-2020 supported her to develop a growth plan for her business and gave her opportunities to connect with other women entrepreneurs.
“My name is Mrs Felicia Ohikere, I am from Kogi State, Nigeria and I graduated from Ahmadu Bello University in 1989, majored in Literature and lectured at a Polytechnic. I started baking as a hobby based on my background learning from my mom who as a home economics teacher. Progressively, my interest grew overtime. So, my baking business was basically a hobby turned business.
Lille’s Pastries started as a far back as 1998, it grew with time and now we offer different varieties of cakes, flavours and an array of indigenous pastries that has become some of our signature products like chin chin, scones and teatime cakes that have stood the test of time.
One of the challenges that affected me was the fact that I had to learn on the job, as I didn’t have prior business training or professional training as a baker. I also didn’t know how to go about employing people and the financial aspect of running a business. As a woman, it was also difficult to combine business with raising my children as well as performing my duties as a wife. Most nights were also busy for me because I had a lot to do.
I think more men than women succeed in business due to the many forms of government support they have enjoyed for a long time, the kind of support that women lack. Women also have a lot on their table, battling with duties as a wife and mother can be very exhausting. In recent times, there has been improvement given the creation of a lot of women focused groups, increased support from international organisations and the government of Nigeria implementing some policies that aim to see women grow their businesses.
I heard about Road to Growth through numerous women focused groups I belong to, such as Neca’s Network for Entrepreneurial Women, as well as the Enterprise Development Centre, which runs the Road to Growth Programme in Nigeria. Having these types of connections avails you information on opportunities so I applied when I heard about it.
Despite attending various entrepreneurship trainings, I still jumped on the Road to Growth opportunity because in business you cannot stop learning; I felt I had a business knowledge deficit that needed to be met. Road to Growth was designed to help entrepreneurs design a growth plan and it was an amazing experience.
The HerVenture app was like a game; a game that made you understand your business but in a salient way.
I enjoyed the Road to Growth programme, the HerVenture app was like a game; a game that made you understand your business but in a salient way. It made business seem less difficult, strange or like rocket science; running a business was brought down to the understanding of an average person. My favourite topics were cashflows and market projections and the fact that I had to reengineer my vision and mission statement to enable me actualise my growth plan.
The HerVenture app has been very helpful, and I still consult it from time to time. The app helps one develop a growth plan, helping you predict where your business will be in 5 years and the necessary steps that needs to be taken to meet those goals.
I think networking with other women was the most interesting part of the Road to Growth programme. We actually formed clusters based on locations and would sometimes meet over lunch to discuss business opportunities and collaborations.
Road to Growth has taught me how to be more innovative and strategic.
The pandemic stalled my business’ growth plan since we were closed during the lockdown period as result there was a total loss of business for most women. It made me return to the drawing board, and readjusted the growth plan to match the new reality. Since people’s purchasing power has dropped, we had to offer products tailored to the small change in their pockets. Those of our products which had COVID-compliant packaging were ordered more by people. It wasn’t much about the cost of the products but the turnover in sales we had.
Having a successful business for me doesn’t necessarily mean increased cash flow but rather the fact that my business now has a structure, processes have been put in place that I can travel and be away for a while and my business runs optimally in my absence. This is one of the many benefits of attending Road to Growth and that for me is the definition of a successful business.
When women are supported, it has positive impact on families, society and the overall economy.
Some of the benefits of attending Road to Growth are the fact that I have developed a growth plan for my business, the networking opportunities and the ability to share ideas with other women.
What these opportunities mean for women is growth; they now understand they can contribute meaningfully to their family and community. I sincerely believe there is a bright future out there for every woman in business.
I have experienced the ‘ripple effect’ of this programme first-hand as I have seen myself continually teach other women what I have learned. A number of women in some of the Women Focused Groups I earlier mentioned have benefited from the Road to Growth programme.
I think it is important to support women’s entrepreneurship because women are good in business due to our diligence. When it comes to accounting, when properly taught women are able to it very well. When women are supported, it has positive impact on families, society and the overall economy.
I see women’s businesses blooming in the nearest future, I see women developing structured and sustainable businesses and I see them becoming a strong force to reckon with in the business world.”
Find out more about HerVenture in Nigeria
HerVenture is one of the Foundation’s three flagship programmes. The business skills mobile learning app provides women entrepreneurs of micro and small enterprises with the knowledge and skills to successfully grow their businesses. It has reached more than 41,000 women to date.
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