By Betsy Ramser Jaime
Kolawole Orowole is an entrepreneur in Nigeria, and he knows what it means to pivot, and to be innovative and forward thinking. In addition to being a business owner, he also serves as a Communicators Facilitator staff member.
In describing his business he shares, ‘I trade in various goods for babies and children, including Pampers (disposable diapers), footwear, school bags, foodstuff, lunch bags, etc. I also produce affordable sanitizer, and I purchase face-masks in large quantities to resell.’
Most importantly, Kolawole is a man of integrity as he shares, ‘I am convinced that integrity is more important than any financial gratification.’ Throughout his time with Zidisha, he has managed to raise 10 Zidisha funded loans, all raised since the beginning of 2002. With his first few loans, Kolawole was able to complete some roofing repairs to his office building and increase his stock on hand.
Because Kolawole primarily provides children’s products in his shop, he’s been essential to many parents and families, especially during the unpredictability of the pandemic this year.
As a small business owner, Kolawole prides himself on his customer service and the close relationships that he’s able to build with his clientele. This certainly has served him well, as he’s even provided home delivery for his loyal customers so that they don’t need to leave their homes during the pandemic.
By June 2020, Kolawole had raised an impressive $823 loan from Zidisha lenders as he shared an update, ‘My business has grown with the help of loans funded by lenders at Zidisha. With the loans, I have been able to invest in face-masks and sanitizers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and have been selling them in the major markets around me. I further have been given a contract to supply sanitizer to banks and other nearby organizations, because my prices are more affordable than competitors’ prices. Additionally, I have pursued school contracts for disinfecting/decontaminating their premises before school reopenings and, in fact, I have been given a school contract to do just that. I am hoping to get more similar contracts to expand my business and increase my profits.’
A few months later, in September, Kolawole was able to raise another large Zidisha funded loan, of $1,482 as he explained, ‘We have successfully secured a contract in seven states in Nigeria as schools gradually reopen. We have contracts to fumigate and maintain concurrent decontamination of government school premises due to our previous private schools contract we executed. These states are Kwara, Oyo, Ogun, Ekiti, Osun, Lagos, Ondo that has trusted us to prove our ability to manage their school decontamination team. So we hope to boost our profitability by 85% by the end of our 1 year contract. We hope the money if given will be invested in purchasing chemical and training personnel to carry out the job.’
While Kolawole didn’t initially set out to offer fumigating, sanitizers, or masks, he’s been able to alter his business offerings to meet the current needs of his community.
In Kolawole’s own words, ‘Our business revolves around the economy crisis and we have built trust and expanded our services delivery. We continue to do a business survey to see the basic needs and how we can offer them in affordable means and boost our profitability in every way. We have built the business brand that is trust and our client had maintained a good relationship to trust them with their needs.’
Would you like to help entrepreneurs making big changes in their community? Make sure to head on over to our Browse Projects page to read about Zidisha business owners around the globe.