Ngozi is the MD of Noxie Limited in Nigeria. In 2020, she took part in our Road to Growth programme, which gave her the knowledge she needed to work out her profit margins and a fulfilling network of other entrepreneurs like her.
“My name is Ngozi Oyewole and I have a background in business administration. I’m also a certified interior designer. Being an entrepreneur is not for the lily-livered; you have to have a brave, strong mind, especially with what you’re faced with as an entrepreneur. I’m the MD of Noxie Limited, which was founded in 2001. Before then, we started as a little enterprise of retailers, and then in 2001, after staying home for 10 years bringing up my children, I decided that it was time to go out there and face it as an entrepreneur. We manufacture office furniture, and we are also do integrated safety facilities.
Being a woman, as far as I’m concerned, makes you a super strong person. I have faced a lot of difficulties, especially because my business is a male-dominated industry. You’ll have people thinking “Oh she’s a woman, what can she do”, so you are faced side remarks, you are faced with people not taking you seriously, you are faced with the banks being not very nice and telling you “I wish you came with your husband”. You are faced with people walking to an organisation and they are looking at you and go “Oh, we were expecting a man”. I remember when I tried to get funding; the banks toss me up and down, they almost wanted me to bring my grandfather’s birth certificates, that was how difficult it was. But you know what, here we are today. The story is totally different.
When we’re talking about what makes it harder for women to go into business, we have to think about the cultural and gender issues. A woman is expected to be home, while a man goes to work. A woman’s job is just bringing up the children. A lot of women are faced with domestic issues where the men don’t understand why their wives should be out there working. I’m not generalising, it’s not all men though. Apart from the cultural challenges, you also have the gender gap. When I was much younger, funding was difficult, and the reason banks didn’t want to give out loans was because they did’t know how the money would be paid; they would always prefer if a woman came with her husband. Most women also don’t get a chance to get trained to be competent enough to be able to match the skills of men. So, there’s a lot to consider that makes business easier for men than women.
Being in a male-dominated space gives me a lot of confidence. I often see men giving me a funny look, but I walk with my head held high. To women I say don’t give up, stand your ground because you know you are competent, and you know what to say.
I bumped into Road to Growth in a newsletter and read more about it. In the training, you never stop learning. It doesn’t matter how much you know, or how long you’ve been in business, there are always new things coming into play and as you grow, you expand. So I decided to give it a shot, and I am really glad I did. R2G is one of the many courses I have taken that really impacted my business and the tutors were just perfect for the job. Road to Growth is a literal road to growth and I would recommend this programme to everyone.
For me, Road to Growth is a family. We have groups on Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram, and the facilitators still keep in touch with all of us and everyone is supportive of one another.
Entrepreneurship can sometimes be lonely, but when you have other people who are there on this journey with you, it is fulfilling. Meeting other women at the R2G programme course has actually filled that void every entrepreneur feels. Everybody I needed to complement my business, I met at the R2G program.
What I learnt from R2G is the importance of a business growth plan. This has helped me put my business on the right path and measure the growth. In the past, we couldn’t properly calculate the profit margin but now, when doing costing, we know how to capture overheads and other business aspects and calculate our profits correctly.
The pandemic really didn’t affect us because we were innovative with our ideas and moved to the digital market. PPE has always been part of our growth from the beginning. But during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, I used some of the marketing knowledge acquired in R2G to boost my business.
Having a successful business to me means, resilience, perseverance, consistency and focus. Success is also innovation, learning and re-learning.
When you empower a woman, you empower a nation. If I am doing well, then everyone around me from my family to my community will be empowered, especially the women.
I am very happy to be an alumnus of Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. I would encourage every woman to be part of this Foundation. Like they say, your network is your net worth.
Join Road to Growth and meet women who will help you stand and support your growth.”
Road to Growth is highly scalable and adaptable. The Foundation is actively seeking funding partnerships to enable the programme to launch in, but not limited, to Rwanda, South Africa, 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!