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Building A Profitable Business

A Calabar-based entrepreneur, Rosemary Orok Oyo, followed her childhood dream of doing something on her own. She started her company. She shares her experience of dealing with challenges and pursuing a long-term vision. DANIEL ESSIET reports.
Rosemary Orok Oyo is among the most promising business women this year. She has turned her love for popcorns into a successful business. But its tryst with entrepreneurship started at a very young age as family members were fashion entrepreneurs.She later attended Federal Government Girls College, Calabar.
She got admission to study Environmental Education at the University of Calabar . She started fashion retail business while still in the university. She later graduated with a BSc Environmental Education, specialising in tourism and eco-management. After graduation in 2009, she didn’t bother to search for a job because it was actually a family business. Three years after, she took over the business and did some renovations to attract more customers.
In October last year, she enrolled at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Southsouth Entrepreneurship Centre, Calabar.
There, she realised that there is a difference between a trained and uninformed entrepreneur.
On graduation from the entrepreneurship programme, she was inspired to expand her fashion retail business into maternity and kiddies outfit .
Consequently, she did her business registration and changed the name of the business from Cita Exclusive Outfit to Teddies World.
Early this year, specifically in January, she employed a new sales representative who exposed her to the untapped fortunes in popcorn business.
She said: “I took out some time to pray about it and I had the leading to start the business with a different concept. That was how Teddies Popcorn started. She started the popcorn business with just N80, 000 and three months after, she got a seed fund from the south south entrepreneurship center. She has been running the fashion retail business for seven years now, but the popcorn business which is nine months old is making more waves more than the fashion retail business. Chocolate popcorn is her flagship product. Right now, the buzz is about Teddies popcorn. She began coming up with formulations. They produce up to 10 varieties of popcorn.
On the worth of the business now, she testified: “You wouldn’t believe the worth of the business now but I’ll say it’s quite impressive and our turnover in nine months is in six zeros and still counting.”
Her popcorn is a brand in Calabar, Cross River State. Her exposure has helped her to explore spices, nuts, cheeses and other whole ingredients that are a wonderful compliment to popcorn. But expected, new popcorn entrepreneurs are emerging, making new investments. To stand out, she is determined to create better-tasting, healthier flavoured popcorn. Consumers are happily buying them, because the love for the snack seems inexhaustible.
One thing that has stood in her favour is the constant and unwavering support of her family, friends and customers who believe in her and the products.
Between producing popcorn, and raising kids, every day presents a new challenge. In addition to managing the brand and overseeing marketing, she spends a lot of her time raising the kids and trying to spend quality time with the family. She has now five members of staff and will still recruit more before the end of the year.
One of the problems she had when she started was insufficient funds to expand her business and her second problem was human resource. She related a pathetic experience: “Last year just before the general election campaign started, the economy nosedived in Cross River State. Businesses couldn’t survive and some were struggling to stand. I took a loan from the bank. It was the biggest mistake I made. Early this year because of the high exchange rate, prices of goods were high and customers couldn’t really shop and that really affected my business. I saw failure staring at me but despite all odds I was able to pay back that loan from our popcorn sales and both businesses are doing well today regardless of the economic situation.”I’ve learnt not to invest or take loan when there is economic crisis in the country,” she added. She is proud of what she has accomplished so far. Teddies popcorn was among the top 50 most innovative businesses by Etisalat EasyBusiness Millionaire Hunt Programme season 2.

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