My journey from finance to humanitarian entrepreneurship in Nigeria
Editor’s note: Helen Asimegbe submitted her following personal story to Global Young Voices. You too can submit yours to us here.
I am a Nigerian mother of two with a passion for entrepreneurship and development. As a serial entrepreneur, I run a high-end quality children’s clothing and accessories retail shop; Stylemark Mall and Stylemark Pro Enterprise, a capacity development center. I also serve as a business mentor at the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Foundation, and Cherie Blaire Foundation for Women in Business. I had previously worked in the banking sector, so transitioning from banking to the retail and fashion business wasn’t the easiest thing for me; it was really tough in the beginning because both professions are somewhat different. I had to to go hands-on with marketing and sales which initially, were unfamiliar territory for me as an employee. During my time working in the banking sector, I was saddled with many responsibilities, tasks and deadlines I had to meet. In the course of working for someone for years, I learned a substantial amount of skills and knowledge that I wouldn’t have known had I started off as an entrepreneur and it has helped me be more disciplined in building my business.
I have no regrets over the time I spent as an employee because of the knowledge I acquired during that time. In the course of running my business, I began to discover how creative I could be. I woke up having so many ideas and inspirations on what I can add or do to make my business stand out. I have also realised a passion for mentoring and helping others turn their ideas into profitable ventures. This is why I set up my second business, Stylemark ProEnterprise, where we offer training platforms designed to assist small to medium enterprise owners in realising their growth potential, delivering access to market for their products, access to finances, and building capacity.
Being an entrepreneur in business has been quite a journey, an interesting road that has given me the opportunity to do the unimaginable and reach for greatness. I also believe it will take me places, and lately it has brought me the opportunity to be part of the Youth Assembly at the United Nations in August 2017. I feel this is an incredible feat and a dream achieved. I took it upon myself to start giving back to society rather than waiting to be featured on CNN or have my name listed in Forbes Magazine. If I am to impact my world, I must start now; I love the SDGs and believe in each of them wholeheartedly. My target area is Sustainable Development Goal 8: Promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. I have impacted many lives, and hope to assist more individuals fulfil their dreams and aspirations in life. I count this as a rare and awesome privilege to share my story and believe we truly can create a society for all!
Cover cartoon credit: Sergio Algeri/GYV
Photos credit: Helen Asimegbe