COINKWARA ENTREPRENEUR OF THE MONTH_OCTOBER
One of the cardinal developmental parts of the CoinKwara Programme is to pick our ‘Entrepreneur of the Month’ and hold an exclusive interview with him or her. This interview gives opportunity to the particular entrepreneur being chosen to evaluate him or herself and assess the growth of his/her enterprise. We also believe that this kind of interview will educate and motivate fellow entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs and the general public.
For the month of October, our Entrepreneur of the Month is Mr. Yusuf Shehu. Shehu and his partners manually manufacture textile material called “Aso-Ofi” or “Aso-Oke” in Yoruba language. His office is located at: No 124, Itakudimoh, Pakata Road, Ilorin, Kwara State. S.O. Yusuf can be contacted on 08180003474, 08080003474 or you can visit his webpage, Shehu Alaso Oke
My name is Shehu Olatunji Yusuf and I hail from Ilorin, Kwara State. I live and work in Itakudimoh area, Pakata Road, Ilorin. I and my other partners produce Historical Local Textile Material called “Aso-Ofi/ Aso-Oke”. I was a one time student of Kwara State College of Islamic and Legal Studies, and I presently hold a National Diploma Certificate in Public Administration from Kwara State Polytechnic, Ilorin. I am a youth and not married.
I inherited this profession of manually making this textile material called Aso-Ofi. I have been on this work since 2003. Just like most entrepreneurs in this industry, I inherited this profession from my father. My entrepreneurial training started with shadowing of my father and other elders in the industry till I started practicing what I saw before becoming an expert today. When I was younger, I combined the learning of this profession alongside the western and Islamic education.
Our company name is S.O. Yusuf Alaso-Oke, deduced from my name Shehu Olatunji Yusuf.
START UP CAPITAL
It is not really possible to say how much I used in starting this enterprise as the most important part of the profession is for someone to learn and know how to do it. It’s not about searching for any start-up capital. You can’t just start this company unless you learn it, but if you want to do it the easy way, you can become a distributor, wholesaler or retailer.
PRIDE OF THIS JOB
What gives pride in this profession is the fame we enjoy from other parts of the world as manufacturer of this Local Textile Material. Our product is popular and being sold in different towns and cities in Nigeria like Kaduna, Lagos, Kano, Abuja, Shagamu, etc. Last year December, for instance, some people living in California ordered for our (Aso Oke) textile material to use in sewing clothes to wear in a wedding ceremony. They did business with us because of the fame we enjoyed as producers of this Aso-Oke quality textile material. We also produce customized materials for politicians during campaigns. Nothing gives one more joy than this.
THE SECRET TO BECOMING SUCCESSFUL IN THIS INDUSTRY
This work does not really have any special secret except that this work is not for a lazy person. For you to be successful in this our industry, you have to be friendly (i.e. customer friendly attitude), manage your time wisely as its being tedious makes someone to feel like not working sometimes especially when customer demands for some specific patterns or designs that is time consuming and energy sapping. It even happens sometimes that customer might reject the design you made for him or her but requesting you to make another one for him. In that case, we will make a new design for such person and sell that one to another person since its quality does not depreciate easily.
TYPES OF ASO-OKE TEXTILE MATERIAL
We have different types. This one I’m holding is called Super Net. It is of high quality and doesn’t fade. This second one is called Coupon or Basket. This third one is called “Kuree”. Kuree is made plain. All these materials can be used in sewing any type of cloth from shirt to trousers. Fashion designers even paste stones on it.
USES OF ASO-OKE TEXTILE MATERIAL
If you use this Aso-Ofi material to sew cloth, you will so much enjoy it as it lasts longer than most other materials and the colour does not fade. We have also made different things from this material such as bag, belt and footwear like this sandal here. You know this Aso-oke material is a durable material, so anything you make out of it is everlasting.
ASO OKE CENTRAL MARKET IN KWARA STATE
I think it will be better for us to have a central market for this product in Kwara state. It will be of a great benefit to us and it will reduce our risk in travelling to sell it in other states; reduce our transportation cost and this will return the glory of this state as the seat of Aso-Oke textile material.
We will be very happy with this as people from other states will travel down here, thereby making our trade easy and also boosting the trade of other Kwara’s products.
If there is any organisation that wants to create such market in this state, we will support them. Such market will help us in being able to control the price of our products better than when we take our products to other states. We are usually at their mercy when we take our product to them as they get to dictate the price of the product without us having a choice but to sell at a reduced price or lose our transportation cost.
MOVING FROM MANUAL LABOUR TO USING MACHINE IN MAKING ASO-OKE.
No doubt machine will make the work easier but there is no machine that can make Aso-Oke as strong and good as we make it manually. The Chinese came and tried it but they did not succeed. What they did resembled Aso-Oke truly but it was not good.
If there is an opportunity to get loan to improve on our business, we will take it. You know the more capital you have the more the chance for your business to grow. We will be happy and grateful for such opportunity.
OPINION ON COINKWARA PROGRAMME
Coinkwara programme is a very good programme that I have even benefited from. When I joined the entrepreneurship community, I was given a page Shehu Yusuf_ Aso Oke on CoinKwara website where my details and pictures of my work were posted and also get my product promoted on their social media platforms. This has brought in more customers for me.
HOW GOVERNMENT CAN SUPPORT
What we want Government to do is to create a modern market within Ilorin, Kwara state where we can sell our Aso-Oke local textile material. This Aso-oke is traditional to Ilorin people and we still produce it very well, so people from other places suppose to be travelling down here to buy our product instead of us travelling to sell always. This kind of market should be for all kwara’s local products and this can make Kwara state a Trade Centre.
Hanafi Olanrewaju Rabiu
Yusuf Bukola Rasheedat
Hanafi Olanrewaju Rabiu