Chika Madubuko is a biotechnologist/bioengineer from the University of Hertfordshire with experience in logistics, agricultural and the pharmaceutical sector and she is the Founder, Greymate Care.
In this interview with Woman.NG she tells us how she started her business.
Tell us about your business
Greymate Care aims to improve the lives of the vulnerable in Nigeria. It is an online platform that connects the elderly, weak, disabled and convalescent to a caregiver right in the comfort of their homes. We aim to take the stress of care off their family members who are busy, thus leaving with one less worry. Having a sick loved one is already enough strain financially and emotionally, it should not stress them physically too.
From having an idea to starting your business, share your journey with us
The journey has been really interesting, more like a roller coaster filled with high and low moments. I had my fair share of doubts and lots of people discouraged me saying Nigerians would not really key into the idea.
I took a dip, nevertheless, and have not had any reason to regret.
Why do you love what you do? There are so many other businesses you could have explored, why this?
I love what I do because it feels like I am creating my own future with my hands. I have always wanted to improve lives and create jobs, and nothing has filled that space like Greymate Care. The smile on the face of my service users makes it all worth it.
At what point did you know beyond all doubt that this is going to work?
I was a little bit doubtful initially even though I could see the market size clearly, but once my first service user signed up, referrals followed, and demand for the service kept growing. At that moment, I knew I was on the right path and things were really going to work out.
How did you raise the capital to start your business, especially with the high cost of running businesses in Nigeria?
My friends and family believed in Greymate Care, and they gave me the bulk sum of my capital
How soon did you start making profits?
It took me 7 months to start making profit!
Brilliant ideas don’t always mean great sales, how has it been marketing your services?
We believed an excellent customer service was the best form of marketing and that worked for us. We delivered perfect service to our first client and got loads of referrals from that. Social media and word of mouth helped us reach our target market too.
As a small business owner you can’t do everything, what has been your experience hiring staff and building your team?
Building a team is actually the most difficult business. You have to get sentiments out of the way to get things done. It has been really difficult but we finally managed to build a loyal team by adding perks no matter how small such as holiday packages, health insurance, career development and advancement opportunities.
Your greatest skill/strength that has particularly been of help in starting and running your business?
Did you have to get a formal training or qualification to be able to do this?
Yes. I got certified at Welwyn Garden, Hertfordshire for the caregiver bit. The business part has been self-taught, been learning on the job.
You have been running your business for some time now, what did you know now that you wished you had known before you started?
I wish I attended a business school, as I had issues with some terms, bookkeeping and tax, so I made mistakes. Thankfully, I have an accountant and about to enroll in a business school.
Any life experience that has particularly prepared you directly or indirectly for what you do now?
Working in a startup has helped prepare me for this stage. I have worked at multinationals such as Amazon Inc., but I learnt more from a smaller organisation as I was closer to the helm of affairs. The exposure taught me how to run a business and costly mistakes to avoid.
Change can bring out a part of us we never knew existed, what new things have you discovered about yourself in the course of starting and running your business?
Inner strength. I look back at the hurdles and I keep wondering how I got through.
The greatest challenge you have ever had to overcome to get to where you are now?
That would be the initial rejection I got whenever I reach out for a collaboration. Some companies did not immediately see the profit side of things. However, when I won some big contracts, I was able to convince them to travel the journey with me.
The greatest business advice you have ever received and by who?
Keep doing what you’re doing. It does not matter how silly you look initially. Once you’re solving a real problem, you will be fine- Chioma Ukonu, COO, Recycle points
What do you think are the most essential skills for women entrepreneurs especially in Nigeria?
Networking skills. Network as much as you can.