Someone once said, ‘you have to be dogged to match up the energy of a Nigerian woman who is determined to win at life.’ I totally agree, and this is the message behind Moni’s story of resilience and hope.
Moninuola Akinwale Juliana is a mother of six Children (one of them being a special needs child) who currently caters for the family. She has a National Diploma Degree (ND) in Accounting and Auditing. She opened a low-income school, Brighter Joy Nursery and Primary School in 2002, which was located in Mushin. Because of the many responsibilities on her as the primary breadwinner in the family, she wasn’t able to continue to pay the rent for the school; it folded up in 2016. She had to let go of the 78 pupils in her school.
After her school packed up, she started washing clothes for whoever needs her service; she got paid anything they offered. She also did other odd jobs to make ends meet. When she came to The Wivesroundtable Foundation in March 2019, we saw her enthusiasm and decided to give her a chance at something better.
The Wivesroundtable Foundation set up a yam/potatoes frying business for her. She was taught how to run the business, how to fry and how to make the tomato sauce. In less than two months, she was talking about expansion.
She had dreams of having a proper canteen and was already working towards it. She had set a target to start a canteen three months after she started the frying business. She was going to run the two together – fry in the morning and afternoon and cook rice in the evening; she had it all planned out before misfortune struck.
The woman, who gave her a space to do her frying business, saw how well she was doing and suddenly decided that she wanted to start frying yam/potatoes too! And so, Moni should leave the position she gave her. Moni begged and begged, but the woman was adamant. So, she had to leave.
Today, she makes petroleum jelly, liquid soap, hair cream and candles for sale. Moni is a definition of drive, resilience, gratitude and a determination to keep moving. She has been hit by so many things, but she remains committed to putting food on her family’s table. She shares her Inspiring story in this interview with Esther Ijewere
My childhood prepared me for what I do now. This is because I lived with my aunty when I was a child. She taught me how to be hardworking, although I used to think she was just making me suffer for nothing. She was also a teacher; I believe that living with her influenced my decision to become a teacher too. The things I learnt from her led me to opening my own school before it folded up. I went to Oye Nursery and Primary school in Lagos, before I gained admission to Eko Girls High School in Isolo. After that, I went to Kwara State Polytechnic, where I had my National Diploma.
Inspiration behind My Jelly and liquid soap business
I got the opportunity to learn how to make Jelly for skin, hair cream and liquid soap when my aunty asked me to join her in the training. She was going to learn how to make them and she asked that I come along too. I didn’t have a job after I graduated from the polytechnic, and I saw it as an opportunity to empower myself with this skill while I wait to get a job. I also thought that it would be nice to make some money by the side even after I get a job. But right now, after everything went down, my school, my food business, I decided to go back to that skill I invested time to learn and that’s what I earn the majority of my money from right now. My major inspiration for starting this business is to be able to put food on the table for my family and to teach other women so they can contribute to their families too.
The Journey so far
I thank God; I have no regret. It has not been so easy but I just have to keep pushing. I have children to feed.
Washing clothes, frying Akara, being an entrepreneur, and how it shaped my journey
I appreciate this handwork. The different experiences have taught me that, as long as I do not give up, things can get better. Life is a journey, and we can never predict what will happen to us or what our future holds.
Being a mom, wife and business woman
I do production three days in a week and use the remaining days for family. With the help of my children, we distribute the things I have produced. They also join me in labeling the production. Since I work from home, I’m able to spend more time with them.
The society and female breadwinners
Women should continue to support their husband and try to keep it from the children. Don’t make it too obvious that you are the one carrying the family financially, especially if you have a supportive husband who is also trying his best. I think society does not have to know anyone is the breadwinner. It also should not determine how one is treated in the society.
To women walking in my shoes
They should focus on God and their handwork. God will lead them up.
Challenges of being an entrepreneur
Money is my biggest challenge. I want my products to be known across different states in Nigeria, not just in my locality. I want my business to scale up and not remain small. I am very hardworking but I have little funds to expand my business.
Wivesroundtable Foundation and It’s impact on my journey
I feel grateful. They always stand by me even when things are tough. I can never forget them throughout my life.
Three women who inspire you to be better and why
Number one is Amaka Chibuzo-Obi, the founder of The Wivesroundtable Foundation. She is a hardworking woman who gathers women together in order to empower them. I appreciate her so much. I see how she stands by women. I am inspired to make the lives of women better too.
Mrs. Awolumate; she is the one who trained me with the skills I currently have. She has really inspired me. She is really hardworking. Mrs. Bolaji who is my mother. My father died when I was about nine years old and she made sure her children did not suffer.
Advice for women in undeserving communities who need support
I would say they should never take opportunities for granted no matter how little they might seem.
Being a Woman of Rubies
My hard work and my faith in God make me a woman of rubies. I am also contented with what I have
The pandemic and its effect on my business
This pandemic really affected my business; prices of things have gone up in the market. Raw materials are more expensive and customers won’t buy if I increase my prices. So, I sell at the same old prices in order to retain my customers.
Support my business
I would like to ask people to patronise my business; buy liquid soap, hair cream and body cream from me. My products are fantastic. They are of good quality and they smell nice.