Editor’s note: The rate of unemployment in Nigeria is greatly alarming and this is reason Nigerian universities are enjoined to make entrepreneurial studies compulsory for all the students regardless of their courses so that they could become job creator rather than job seekers after their graduation.
In this article, Great Austin, the NAIJ.com reporter interviewed Mercy Onyeka Obah, a graduate of computer science from Benson Idahosa University, Benin City, Edo state on why she opted for shoe making after her graduation.
Miss Mercy Onyeka Obah is a 2013 graduate of computer science. She studied at Benson Idahosa University, Benin City, Edo state. Miss Obah hails from Umuogbe in Aniocha north local government area of Delta state.
Our reporter ran into her on Thursday, September 21, 2017 at Asaba, the Delta state capital. The meeting was accidental but it provided an opportunity to know about a university graduate who, though a computer graduate, is into shoe making.
She said: “I make and sell sandals for men.” She was courageous and bold. Her approach tells of a business oriented individual who is interested in winning customers and seek their patronage.
And truly, she did. She won my heart. And being a journalist, coupled with her sincerity, I decided to inquire into how she fares in the business of shoemaking and why she opted for shoemaking as a lady and thereafter a graduate of computer science.
Obah told our reporter that she graduated in 2013 from Benson Idahosa University in Benin City and did her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Rivers state. But while in the service, she discovered a shoemaking skill that could fetch her living and stand her out among her peers.
She used the opportunity. She said she learnt the skill of shoemaking during the compulsory service year in Port Harcourt.
In her words: “I learnt shoemaking when I was serving in Rivers state. And when I came out of the service, I went to learn more about it. That was when I developed real interest in shoemaking. Thereafter, I proceeded to Agege in Lagos where I was brought up to continue the training after my service year in 2015. It was a skill I liked; hence I opted to go for it.”
Although shoemaking seems to be a man’s world, Miss Obah said she found it interesting making shoes for both men and women. She said after two years of making shoes in Lagos, she moved over with her parents to Asaba and now she is used to it and does it well.
“I’m coping with all the involvements. I have the strength and zeal for it. I get encouragement from other people, my friends around me and family members. Yes, my family members are giving me the needed encouragement and support. They give me their support, that is what is making me going and pushing forward,” Obah said.
Although she studied computer science at the university, she said she has liking for shoemaking. She explained that she finds shoemaking more interesting and appealing compared to the computer science she studied at the university.
“I have always liked fashion when I was a kid. I used to look up all fashion sections of any magazine or paper I saw. The styles and designs fascinated me. That was why I was quick to enroll myself when I got the opportunity during my NYSC.
“My vision is to get my own fashion label for male and female leather works like shoes, sandals, bags and belts and will also like to go to fashion school to improve my skills and to meet international standards,” she said.
When asked whether she could leave the shoemaking for another job if opportunity comes her way, she said leaving her shoemaking would depend on the pay coming from the job.
She would rather prefer working for herself to working for someone, who would be utilizing her creativity to enrich themselves. But if government opens opportunity which is favourable to her, she agreed she would quit and key in. The shoemaking business she started in October 2015 in Lagos, she said, is fetching her money for her living, though yet to be married.
“I make money out of it, people are patronizing me from everywhere. I tell people myself and they come and buy. People in Lagos call me for sandals. When I’m through with it, I waybill it to them. Even from Port Harcourt, people call me to make sandals for them. I have filing machines, I have stamp, I have industrial machines to do the job,” Obah further explained.
She said she travels to Lagos on regular basis from where she gets her raw materials for the shoes. For her, she is comfortable as she could take care of herself from her earnings.
Comparing her industry with other girls who prefer hanging out with men for quick money, she said it pays to work hard and make a living for oneself, rather than hanging out with men and depending on them. She abhors letting herself down for whatever reason. And she is willing to stand by it.
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“I prefer working for myself than selling my body to make money. I’m happy that I’m into a shoe making business, working for myself. By next year, God willing, I see myself moving to a new level.
“Girls or boys looking for easy ways to make money should turn around. They need to work for themselves, they need to find something doing to help themselves out and their families. I don’t like surviving through someone but by my sweat and the grace of God.
“I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I’m doing it at home for now but before next year ends, I should be able to get a shop for it. The computer science I studied is aside for now,” Obah said.
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com had previously reported a graduate of English and Literary Studies from the Ekiti state University prides herself in making uniquely different foot-wears for both men and women.
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