Access to capital is arguably the biggest challenge facing Nigerian start-ups. Entrepreneurs in the country believe that near absence of cheap funds makes the business environment tough and challenging.
Every year, thousands of people with entrepreneurial minds give up on their business ideas and dreams just because they cannot find the needed capital to kick start.
But Jibola Jegede, founder of Stylewithjibs, a fashion business that operates in Lagos and its environment, proves that one can always start little without having to wait till the entire capital required is available.
Jibola had the dream of becoming one of Africa’s finest in the world of fashion and designs. The entrepreneur only had N50, 000, obtained from his personal savings. Jibola was not discouraged with the little amount he had, as he still went ahead to establish the fashion business.
“I started my business with about N50, 000. I needed more than that to start my business, but I realized that waiting to get the amount needed might lead to the death of my zeal and passion. So I started with what I had,” Jibola says.
The initial start-up capital was used to create a website for the company, a logo and a media campaign, as well as for registration.
Jibola was inspired to establish Stylewithjibs in 2017 owing to the constant accolades he got from friends and colleagues for his good fashion sense. Also, his passion and zeal to look good and make people around him look attractive also inspired him.
“People often complimented the way I dressed. Some of my course mates and friends had to nickname me then ‘Gbogbo Fashionista’ because of my stylish nature.
“I was not that guy with so many clothes back then on campus, but I could do wonders with the little I had. I had an insight and creative mind to combine wears together; I knew the shirt that would go well with jeans and the best shoes to rock on it. Oftentimes it usually came out great,” he recalls.
Back then, Jibola used his spare time to acquire more skills in fashion and designs. He took up courses on designs on the Internet and studied more about Africa’s fashion sector while also following some of the continent’s finest designers on Twitter and other social media platforms.
“Since starting, Stylewithjibs has been growing consistently. Considering where we started from, the business has grown reasonably well and it is still growing. I am amazed at the journey so far, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” he notes.
The economist-turned-entrepreneur says that lack of awareness of the need for a personal stylist has continued to limit the business.
“Not everyone is fully aware of the need for a personal stylist or a personal shopper. To look really good needs a form of extra attention and creativity. So the challenge is sensitizing people for the need of our service. We do not want to segregate because Stylewithjibs is accessible to everyone out there,” he explains.
He believes that lack of adequate funding has limited the business from growing at the rate it ought to. “Funding is another major challenge. We are not running at full capacity because we are yet to put some things in place due to inadequate funds.”
Jibola urges the Federal Government to provide the enabling environment that will aid businesses to thrive.
Similarly, he calls for the formulation of effective policies for the country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, while stressing the need for the involvement of governments at all levels.
“The formulation of effective policies for entrepreneurial ecosystems requires the active involvement of governments at all levels working with senior public servants who act as ‘institutional entrepreneurs’ to shape and empower policies and programs,” he states.
He also calls for inclusiveness of all sectors of the economy in government’s quest for diversification.
Jibola says that most start-up businesses fail after five years because they are not adequately prepared enough to run as businesses.
“So many people want to start up businesses because it is their dream, but many do not have the experience. For example, you want to open a restaurant because you are a great chef, but that is just one of the many skills required to run the restaurant business successfully. It should not end there,” Jibola explains.
The entrepreneur also identifies impatience among most start-ups as one of the causes of the high failure rates. “Start-ups must be able to have the fortitude to endure the hard times and push through with their businesses, but most of them are not patient,” he adds.
Answering questions on what he would tell his younger self, he says, “Never to be afraid of taking risks because without it you cannot grow your business.”
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Josephine Okojie and Bunmi Bailey